Medical Perspectives | Others

July 30, 2021

The discussion and focus on putting a stop to drug abuse has been a trending topic both online and offline over the last few years. While government estimates on the prevalence of illegal drugs range from 4 million to 8 million users[1], the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report 2003 figure was at 1.8 million drug users, or 2.2 percent of population in 2003.[2]


Studies on the process and progression of drug abuse have identified various factors that may impede or encourage drug abuse. Risk factors are those that “increase a person’s chances for drug abuse”, while protective factors can help minimize the risk.[3]


The National Institute on Drug Abuse provides a table (below) that shows risk and protective factors in five settings, as a template to show where interventions or processing can occur.[4]



  • The more risk factors a child or person is exposed to, the greater the chances of falling into a drug abuse habit.
  • If risk factors are not addressed or resolved, there is more likelihood of negative behavior which increases the risk of drug abuse.
  • Risk factors such as peer pressure may be overwhelmingly powerful during teen or adolescent years.
  • On the other hand, protective factors, particularly strong relationships between parent and child, can be a deterrent to the risk of drug abuse.


The list of risk factors includes the following[5]

  • Lack of nurturing and interaction during childhood, arising from lack of attachment between parent and child or ineffective parenting
  • In the school environment, poor social skills or deviant classroom behavior, academic performance or failure, and exposure to or interaction with drug-abusing schoolmates
  • drug availability, trafficking patterns and tolerance of drug abuse within the community also contribute to increasing risk


Protective factors that shield people from the risk of drug abuse are as follows:[6]

  • family attachments, strong parent-child bonds, proper family management of concerns and issues involving family members
  • solid belief and standard system that establishes healthy and clear standards for social involvement and encourages career advancement
  • healthy interaction among peers
  • strong spiritual foundation

Protecting the youth and society in general from the risk of drug abuse begins with a concerted effort to establish a community that encourages healthy behavior and stands united against drug abuse and related activities. Knowing the risk and protective factors helps the community prepare and plan the proper actions to prevent the menace of substance abuse from wreaking havoc among the youth and within the community

[1] De Santos, J. [2019, February]. PNP, PDEA, NBI agree: Duterte’s estimate of 8M drug users has basis. Retrieved from

[2] National Institute on Drug Abuse. [2004]. Social, Political and Economic Context of Illegal Drug Abuse in the Philippines. Retrieved from

[3] National Institute on Drug Abuse. [2003, October]. Preventing Drug Abuse among Children and Adolescents. Retrieved from

[4] National Institute on Drug Abuse. [2003, October]. Preventing Drug Abuse among Children and Adolescents. Retrieved from

[5] National Institute on Drug Abuse. [2003, October]. Preventing Drug Abuse among Children and Adolescents: What are the early signs of risk that may predict later drug abuse. Retrieved from

[6] [2017, February]. How to Prevent Substance Abuse: Learn About Risk & Protective Factors. Retrieved from

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