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NIDA. (1997, June 1). Children on The Brink: Youths at Risk of Drug Abuse. Retrieved from

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June 01, 1997

As youths at risk, these young people may exhibit problem behaviors such as school failure, delinquency, and other antisocial behaviors. Sometimes they suffer psychological problems such as depression and suicidal behavior. These youths even may be exhibiting early signs of drug use, although they may not have reached the point at which they can be diagnosed clinically as drug abusers.

Young people whose social and psychological problems put them at heightened risk of abusing drugs represent a complex challenge for NIDA-funded researchers who are looking for ways to protect them from drug abuse.

These daunting personal problems are likely to be paired with any number of other difficulties in their lives. They may be on the verge of dropping out of school or already have dropped out. Their family lives often are chaotic. Sometimes their parents themselves abuse drugs. The young people may actually be living on the streets or in shelters.

How can these youths be prevented from abusing drugs? What are their special needs and what kind of drug abuse prevention programs can help them?

Field InterviewerPhoto by Michael ChiabaudoA field interviewer gives a young man who lives on the streets of Hollywood, California, a referral card listing health clinics and other places where he can find help.

NIDA-funded research on youths at risk is seeking answers to these questions. In this special report, NIDA NOTES will look at some of these studies and the information and strategies they are using to help bring these children back from the brink of drug abuse.