Developmental Risk Factors - Essay Example

Published: 2024-01-01
Developmental Risk Factors - Essay Example
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Psychology Healthcare Childhood Drug abuse
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 1017 words
9 min read


According to the National Institutes of Health (2007), developmental risk factors for drug abuse related to the various social and emotional challenges that are faced by an individual due to drug abuse. Such risk factors are likely to produce varied side effects depending on the environment, individual's traits, and development phase. My niece was exposed to several developmental risk factors. For instance, she was exposed to the early aggressive behavior, which resulted in her intake of the medication leftover in the bathroom. The early aggressive behavior made her buy similar prescription drugs from a kid at school. Based on the class readings, early aggressive behavior indicates the lack of impulse control, which is a key protective factor in the lives of the children. Again, lack of parental supervision is another developmental risk factors that my niece could have faced. My niece's father is absent from her life due to alcoholism, and this could result in a lack of parental monitoring.

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Again, home and family have a significant influence on drug addiction such that when older family members or parents abuse drugs, there is an increased likelihood that the child will also develop drug problems. Such developmental risk factors often influence drug abuse in several ways. For instance, it could be addictive in the sense that the more the risks a child gets exposed to, the more the likelihood that the child will abuse drugs. For example, my niece simply started by using prescription drugs before she became addicted to similar prescription drugs. My niece became so addicted that she was afraid of the likely withdrawal symptoms.

Developmental Protective Factors

When the developmental risk factors are not addressed in time, the children could experience immediate risks of drug abuse, such as association with kids who abuse drugs as well as skipping school (Glaser, 2020). My sister employed some developmental protective factors to protect her daughter. For instance, my sister ensured that she provided a stable home for my niece, ensured that she participated in religious services and that she attends a good school. My sister also ensured that her daughter lives in a tight community.

My sister also employed impulse control as a developmental protective factor through being too close to her. She had also tried to keep her daughter by ensuring that she participated in games with other girls from the other teams. Even though the intake of drugs at any age could result in addiction, research indicates that the earlier an individual begins to use drugs higher the likelihood of developing serious problems (Sloboda, 1997). It is also essential to note that acquaintance and friends can have a significant influence on drug abuse. As such, my sister tried to protect her daughter by ensuring that she had good friends around. However, upon addiction, my niece cut off from her friends and became friends with other drug addicts.

Four Theoretical Perspectives

Based on the Social control theory, strong bonds with family, school, friends, religion, work, and other aspects of traditional society motivate people to engage in responsible behavior or refrain from deviant pursuits such as substance abuse (Moos, 2007). In the event where such social bonds are absent or weak, individuals tend to engage in undesirable behaviors. As such, it could be that there is a weaker bond that my niece experiences in with the neighbors, friends, peer groups, and the family (Rowe, 2012). The fact that her father is absent from her life due to alcoholism could have contributed to substance abuse by my niece. Research indicates that the weak attachments are mainly caused by weak attachments, inadequate monitoring, and lack of coherence within the family (Glaser, 2020). Friends who engage in deviant and disruptive behaviors can also result in weak attachments.

In behavioral choice theory, individuals are motivated by the alternative rewards provided by the activities other than substance abuse (Moos, 2007). As such, engagement in substance abuse is due to the lack of effective access to some alternative rewards. Thus, my niece could have engaged in substance abuse due to a lack of alternative rewards in participating in games and religious services. Substance abuse and physical activity are likely to decrease anxiety and elevate moods, making them functionally similar, thus substitutable (Sloboda, 1997).

In social learning theory, substance abuse emanates from some substance-specific behaviors and attitudes, especially of the peers and the adults who should act as role models. As such, the theory suggests that one could develop substance abuse from the friends and the family members who engage in such abuse (Moos, 2007). For instance, my niece could have developed substance abuse behavior by observing her alcoholic father.


Stress and coping theory suggest that the stressful life experiences that emanate from friends, family members, and schools result in distress and consequent alienation. For instance, my niece could be engaging in substance abuse because of stress emanating from alienation from her friends. She no longer on the volleyball team, and her friends have changed. Research indicates that stressors are likely to increase substance use among people who lack coping skills and self-confidence.


Alcoholics Anonymous vs. Other Approaches: The Evidence Is Now In. (2020). Retrieved 6 October 2020, from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (, 2020). preventing adverse childhood experiences (ACEs): leveraging the best available evidence.

Glaser, G. (2020). The Bad Science of Alcoholics Anonymous. Retrieved 6 October 2020, from

Moos, R. H. (2007). Theory-based active ingredients of effective treatments for substance use disorders. Drug and alcohol dependence, 88(2-3), 109-121.

National Institutes of Health, & the United States of America. (, 2007). Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction.

Rowe, C. L. (2012). Family therapy for drug abuse: Review and updates 2003–2010. Journal of marital and family therapy, 38(1), 59-81.

Sloboda, Z. (1997). Preventing drug use among children and adolescents: A research-based guide (No. 97). National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health.

Volkow, N. D. (2010). Drugs, brains, and behavior: The science of addiction. Retrieved on March 23, 2011.

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