Prevention experts say there are indicators that youth may either develop or be protected from developing problems with alcohol, tobacco, other drug or mental health problems. Becoming familiar with risk and protective factors is key to effective prevention planning.
Risk factors are characteristics that occur statistically more often for those who develop alcohol, tobacco, other drug or mental health problems, either as adolescents or as adults. Recent research points to a considerable number of such factors, including individual, family and social/cultural characteristics.
Many youths and adults, although living in high-risk environments, seem to possess personal resilience that helps them avoid alcohol, tobacco, other drugs (ATOD), and other risk behaviors. Prevention research has been able to identify many of these protective factors and prevention programs are being developed making use of this important and relevant information.