Activity 1: Overview of social risk and protective factors

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For many of you, the concept of social risk and protective factors will not be new. However, it is worthwhile to remind ourselves of the importance of the knowledge about social risk and protective factors, since this is an area in which many substance use workers intervene. Dr. Liddle, a world renowned researcher and therapist, has published numerous books and hundreds of peer reviewed studies in the field of substance use disorders and youth. His video is a succinct overview of the importance of understanding the broad concepts of this field of study.

If the psycho-social literature on risk and protective factors is relatively new to you, you may want to start with the Alberta Health Services (2009) review, which is from the grey (non-peer reviewed) literature. It is well researched and written for a lay audience.

Stone et al. (2012) present an academically peer reviewed comprehensive literature review of the known psychological (sometimes called behavioural) and social risk and protective factors of problematic substance use. This article organizes the findings of many studies in useful tables.


  1. Read the following articles in your textbook:
    • “Racial and Gender Differences in Substance Abuse: What Should Communities Do About Them?” by H. D. Holder
    • “Family and Other Close Relationships” by B. S. McCrady
  2. Read Substance Abuse in Canada: Youth in Focus by the Canadian Center on Substance Abuse (2007).
  3. View Risk and Protective Factors with Dr. Howard A. Liddle at
  4. Read “Review of Risk and Protective Factors of Substance Use and Problem Use in Emerging Adulthood” by Stone at al. (2012). (Available through TRU library).
  5. Develop a table, or chart, for yourself that identifies questions about risk and protective factors that you need to be aware of in your practice. If you are not currently working professionally, create a chart that may be useful to an elementary or high school (Grade 8) counsellor or teacher. Ensure that you identify whether the factor is risk or protective, and include both interpersonal and intrapersonal factors.