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Encouraging Resilience as A Way to Prevent Substance Abuse

A study from 2014 adds an interesting component to the mental health literature on resilience. The researchers surveyed more than 2000 adults who had suffered childhood abuse and other trauma. They found that those who showed higher levels of character traits associated with resilience showed much lower rates of problems as adults with alcohol problems or illicit drug use. This finding tells youth-serving organizations that, even if we don’t directly treat substance abuse problems, we can help children avoid future problems by encouraging traits of resilience. Ways to help children become more resilient include building positive relationships and encouraging goal-oriented attitudes.  Faith-based organizations also can promote spirituality, another factor that encourages resilience.

Our findings add to a nascent body of literature suggesting that resilience characteristics mitigate risks not only for PTSD, major depression, and suicidality, but also for substance use problems in adults exposed to childhood abuse or other traumatic experiences.


resilience, youth serving organizations