Preventing Substance Abuse and Addiction

  • A. Jordan WrightEmail author
  • Rachel Henes
Part of the Advances in Mental Health and Addiction book series (AMHA)


Beyond the obvious social benefits of preventing substance abuse among teenagers, studies have shown that substance abuse costs America hundreds of billions of dollars per year (Harwood, 2000), and implementing effective prevention programs would save an estimated $18 to the nation for every dollar spent on prevention programming (SAMHSA Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, 2008). Adolescence is the developmental period that can be clearly identified as the most “sensitive period” for the onset of experimentation with drugs and alcohol, as well as the risk for transition from use to problematic use to dependence (Jordan & Andersen, 2016). Studies have found that by 12th grade, and certainly by college, many adolescents report binge drinking and using marijuana (Degenhardt et al., 2008; Johnston, O’Malley, Bachman, & Schulenberg, 2010). The earlier this binge drinking, often considered alcohol abuse in the literature, and drunkenness occurs in life, the more likely these individuals are to develop significant functional (such as behavioral) problems and alcohol-related disorders, a finding that has been replicated in many different countries (Kuntsche et al., 2013; Lee & DiClemente, 1985; Parrella & Filstead, 1988). While there are many risk factors for developing substance-related problems, including genetic, personality, attachment, and environmental (e.g., Meyers & Dick, 2010; Ormel et al., 2012; Schindler & Bröning, 2015), much research (both brain research and longitudinal research) has supported the fact that delaying the onset of experimenting with substances, including cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, and concurrent use of multiple substances, is the most effective strategy for preventing both problems and addiction later in life (Buchmann et al., 2013; Gillespie, Neale, & Kendler, 2009; Grant, Stinson, & Hartford, 2001; Hingson, Heeren, & Winter, 2006; Lisdahl, Gilbart, Wright, & Shollenbarger, 2013; Moss, Chen, & Yi, 2014). In fact, Bukstein and Kaminer (2015) found that when the use of substances was controlled at age 18, there was no significant link between major risk factors and either the rate/intensity of use in adulthood or the negative consequences of use in adulthood. Thus, targeting adolescent substance use (and abuse) can effectively curtail problematic consequences and addiction later in life.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Applied Psychology, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human DevelopmentNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Freedom Institute, HallwaysNew YorkUSA

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