Research over the past two decades has tried to determine how substance use begins and how it progresses. Many factors can add to a person’s risk for substance abuse. Risk factors can increase a person’s chances for substance abuse, while protective factors can reduce the risk (NIDA, 2013). People have biological and psychological characteristics that can make them vulnerable or resilient to substance abuse problems. These characteristics are classified either as a protective factor or a risk factor (SAMHSA, 2015).
- Protective Factor: a characteristic at the biological, psychological, family, or community (including peers and culture) level that is associated with a lower likelihood of problem outcomes or that reduces the negative impact of a risk factor on problem outcomes. Protective factors might include: belief in a moral order, religion, family, social skills, and community connectedness.
- Risk Factor: a characteristic that is biological, psychological, family, community, or cultural level that precedes and is associated with a higher likelihood of problem outcome. Risk factors might include: academic failure, perceived risk of substance use, rebelliousness, parents attitude favors substance use, family conflict, friends use of substances, and sensation seeking.
Through the Wyoming Prevention Needs Assessment (PNA), the Wyoming Department of Health measures a wide variety of attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions that have been shown to be related to alcohol, tobacco, and drug use along with violent and problem behaviors. Explore the Prevention Needs Assessment by Topic, including both protective factors and risk factors, here.