Alcohol and other drug abuse has become a root cause of many of the serious problems facing Canadians and is conservatively estimated to cost millions of dollars each year. The problem strains our health care, social service, education and legal systems, and takes an immeasurable emotional and financial toll on families. (Saskatchewan Health, 2004)
Substance abuse prevention programs have been successful in reducing substance abuse. However, making progress is not always easy. Many of the problems are intertwined with societal values, norms, attitudes, and beliefs that run counter to reducing problems and strengthening families and communities. Factors within our environment, such as employment and racism, also contribute. (Saskatchewan Health, 2004)
Risk and Protective Factors in relation to Substance Abuse and Addiction
Risk factors are life events that increase behaviours such as alcohol or other drug abuse, chemical dependency and problem gambling.
Protective factors are life events that decrease the exposure to risk factors. The end result is the reduced occurrence of behaviours such as alcohol and other drug abuse, chemical dependency and problem gambling.
Studies have identified that risk factors and protective factors for substance abuse can be categorized under Individual Influences, Interpersonal Influences and Community/Societal Influences. When working with addiction promotion and prevention it is important to place a heightened emphasis on developing programs that improve protective factors, as well as working towards reducing risk factors.