Health professionals have used years of experience and research to put together a list of reasons teens use drugs; the answers are called "root causes" or "risk factors" (depending on the group you talk to).  We can stop a damaging behavior, if we witness it taking place, by using enforcement.  However, if we use the same resources to reduce a "root cause" then we might stop a lifetime of damaging behaviors.


The list on this page demonstrates that there are risks throughout life; some come from the people we know, some from the places we go.  It was provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Center for Substance Abuse Prevention and the National Prevention Network.

Risk Factors



  • Lack of knowledge of negative consequences of Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug (ATOD) use
  • Favorable attitudes toward use
  • Early onset of use
  • Biological or psychological disposition
  • Antisocial behavior
  • Sensation seeking
  • Lack of adult supervision



  • Peer use
  • Peer norms favorable toward use
  • Peer activities favorable to use



  • Parental and sibling drug use or approval of use
  • Inconsistent or poor family management practices
  • Lack of parental involvement in children’s lives
  • Family conflict
  • Generational differences in family acculturation
  • Low family bonding



  • Lack of commitment to education
  • Poor grades/school failure
  • Lack of attachment to school
  • Negative school climate
  • Lenient school policies or unclear norms regarding use of substances



  • Lack of bonding/attachment to social and community institutions
  • Lack of community awareness of substance use problem
  • Community norms favorable to use and tolerant of abuse
  • Insufficient community resources to support prevention
  • Inability to address substance abuse



  • Norms tolerant of use and abuse
  • Policies enabling use and abuse
  • Lack of enforcement of laws to prevent use and abuse
  • Inappropriate negative sanctions


Why do Minors

Want to Try Illegal Drugs?



It's not easy for most teens to "Just Say No"

Our Mission:  To reduce risky behaviors through prevention education, community collaboration and other Drug-Free Community or similarly evidence-based strategies.

MARPC   Manhattan Area Risk Prevention Coalition

1221 Thurston | Manhattan, KS  66502 | (785) 539-8763