The Vicious Cycle: Problematic Family Relations, Substance Abuse, and Crime in Adolescence: A Narrative Review

Several studies, including a meta-analysis of thirteen studies, have indicated that childhood ADHD leads to increased risk of developing a substance use disorder during adolescence or adulthood [70–72]. Furthermore, the aforementioned meta-analysis concluded that ADHD can specifically lead to increased risk for alcohol or nicotine abuse [70]. However, the meta-analysis of the results regarding the link between marijuana use and ADHD was inconclusive [70].

  • Age, though, shows consistent patterns, with older adolescents participating in substance use more often than their younger counterparts, with risk increasing each year from ages 10 to 17 [29, 30, 33, 34].
  • Half of the families had at least one parent — usually the father — with an alcohol problem.
  • Intracranial cocaine self-administration into the medial prefrontal cortex increases dopamine turnover in the nucleus accumbens.

Conversely, adolescents whose parents have negative attitudes toward alcohol and disapprove of underage drinking, show lower levels of alcohol use, are more likely to engage with peers who do not drink and have a higher level of self-efficacy for alcohol refusal [15]. A legal definition of child neglect includes any situation where a child’s caregiver does not provide adequate living necessities, including protection, clothing, health care, and/or food [31]. Studies have consistently shown that victims of neglect are at increased risk for substance use [41–43].

2. Physical and Sexual Abuse

However, the method used in the present study is very similar to the one used in previous studies.12 Another limitation is that only 73–82% of eligible individuals at baseline could be included in the analyses. An attrition analysis indicated that baseline substance use as well as deviant peers, delinquency, parental drinking and smoking were more common in excluded subjects. Thus, our final sample may represent a group with less problem behaviours and risk factors than the average, and that our results may not be generalisable to groups with higher risk of problem behaviours. However, in the sensitivity analysis, assuming that dropouts were either positive or negative for all outcomes had minimal impact on the outcomes. In the post hoc analyses on census-weighted data, the results remained largely unchanged with the exception of the influence of authoritarian parenting style on regular smoking.

BWM conceptualized the study objectives, design, analyses, interpretation of the data, and drafted the paper. MMLDS supervised the study, and assisted in data interpretation and finalisation of the paper. The datasets used and/or analysed during the current study are available teen drug abuse from the corresponding author on reasonable request. The proportional odds assumptions were assessed using a full likelihood ratio test comparing the fitted model to a model with varying location parameters where p-values greater than 0.05 are considered acceptable.

High-Risk Substance Use Among Youth

However, individuals who join their peers in using illegal substances do not do so by accident; many factors draw these individuals toward friends or peers, who abuse substances, such as family issues, or behaviors and attitudes that they have in common with these groups. However, peer factors are not just about influencing others to use illicit substances; they could also influence a person to start smoking and drinking alcohol when socializing, which could, in turn, lead to the use of illegal drugs [16]. Risk factors for teen substance use include low levels of parental supervision and/or communication, family conflicts, inconsistent or severe parental discipline, and a family history of substance use disorder (SUD).

what family factor is not associated with teen drug abuse?

Deviance and Pearson goodness-of-fit tests were performed with an indication that the model was a good fit to the observed data whenever p- value was greater than 0.05.

DOMAIN: individual factor

If you are starting a conversation about substance use, choose a place where you and your teen are both comfortable. Substances that teens may use include those that are legal for adults, such as alcohol or tobacco. If those friends are older, teens can find themselves in situations that are riskier than they’re used to. For example, they may not have adults present or younger teens may be relying on peers for transportation. Alcohol and nicotine or tobacco may be some of the first, easier-to-get substances for teens. Because alcohol and nicotine or tobacco are legal for adults, these can seem safer to try even though they aren’t safe for teens.

  • The CDC reported that, in 2009, 20.2% of high school students had misused a prescription drug [3].
  • Your teen’s personality, your family’s interactions and your teen’s comfort with peers are some factors linked to teen drug use.
  • This study offers a pilot exploration of important family management risk and protective factors that affect alcohol and other drugs use problems amongst adolescents in South Africa.

In fact, both legal and illegal drugs have chemicals, which can influence the behavior and cognition of individuals. Within the individual factor domain, nine articles were found to contribute to the subdomain of personal/ individual traits [27–29, 37–40, 43, 44]. Despite the heterogeneity of the study designs and the substances under investigation, all of the papers found statistically significant results for the possible risk factors of adolescent drug abuse. The traits of high impulsivity, rebelliousness, difficulty in regulating emotions, and alexithymia can be considered negative characteristic traits. These adolescents suffer from the inability to self-regulate their emotions, so they tend to externalize their behaviors as a way to avoid or suppress the negative feelings that they are experiencing [41, 47, 48]. On the other hand, engaging in such behaviors could plausibly provide a greater sense of positive emotions and make them feel good [49].

Data analyses

In fact, the etiology of the substance abuse can be described as the triadic reciprocity influence of the behavioral, environmental and personal factors. Despite the copiousness of studies on the risky behaviors of adolescents, we cannot establish with certainty the leading aspects involved in teens’ substance abuse and criminal actions. This review aims to explore the interplay among the family system, substance abuse, and criminal behavior. An analysis of the main results of the 61 articles published between 2010 and 2020 shows that adolescents whose parents are justice-involved and often absent from home are more likely to perceive lower cohesion, support, and poor family communication.

  • Though many risk factors for adolescent substance abuse and dependence are external, there are some individual factors that can contribute to the risk of developing a substance use disorder.
  • However, a plausible explanation for this link could be the indirect effects of posttraumatic stress (i.e., a history of maltreatment) leading to substance use [53, 54].
  • The results showed that a family history of substance abuse was among the risk factors that made individuals prone to misuse any subtype of substance [13].
  • The dynamic nature of society and new trends in substance use necessitate the identification of risk factors as an on-going process.


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