I am taking Substance Abuse, Alcohol, and Addiction class right now, and there was something that came to mind while I was doing my reading for the class.
Youths (and elderly, actually) have higher risk because of the higher level of needs. People these days are not as reserved when it comes to experimentation either. There are mixed social messages around youths in regards to drugs and alcohol. Well, I'm sure that these people know that these substances are not good for them, but they still take them nevertheless. I wonder what can be a universal protective factor (factors in their lives that decrease the likelihood of getting involved with these substances)?
I'm an experimenter; I like to try new things, random things, anything that comes my way, and in an extreme fashion (mostly good and sometimes bad for me). It's either all the way (unless I really dislike it), or none at all, so I've had my share of drinking too much and getting wasted, taking my first puff (which I discontinued because I hated the taste), and things that are less critical, like doing too much of something. That's my trait, I think.
Anyway, drugs are the only thing that I never touched in my life. Ok, I touched the stuff before, physically, but I never consumed or used any. My protective factor: my older brother, or more specifically, his trust and love for me. He told me once that it is okay if I want to try drugs, he understands that it is natural to be curious, but he explicitly states that if I ever want to take drugs, I must take it in his presence, so he can ensure that I don't hurt myself in any way (overdosed, irrational behaviors, etc.). And you know what? I kept that sentence of his real close to my heart, and knowing he trusts that I won't touch these stuff without him really helped. (Even though when I think about it now, he probably must be taking a huge risk, because if I did get interested in trying, he would be responsible for the ruin of my life; but I guess he knew me well).
That person in my life was my brother. I wonder, if youths experimenting with substances are lacking that person in their lives. I want to be that person in another person's life. Call it a friend, a mentor, or whatever. But wouldn't it be great if our presence in another's life is a protective factor against the things that bring destruction to that life?