It is a sad time for all levels of society when children who are just at the age when they can perceive the larger world are exposed to the drug life and to the culture of drugs and alcohol. It is not just that the parents, members of the extended family and most of the neighborhood are serving as examples of drug abuse as a normal and routine fact of life, it is that the celebrity multimedia and literary world have normalized substance abuse as a fact of lives that children idolize and dream of having.
Any lifestyle that constantly and consistently surrounds a child is “normal” to them. They do not know of any other way of life until (or if) they travel, visit sober relatives, visit neighbors and friends, or attend schools where drug abuse is not rampant.
As a result, exposure could be seen as the first major factor that leads to childhood substance abuse. Children in the entertainment field can be as over exposed as children in an impoverished urban or rural drug culture. The elements of this overexposure include the major authority figures, role models and peers who routinely abuse drugs and encourage, force or pressure others to join them.
Access and opportunity could be seen as the second major factor that leads to early substance abuse. With the plethora of mood altering drugs that are freely prescribed and openly stored in household bathrooms, young people can easily become dependent upon having a ready and steady supply of drugs to pilfer, sell, trade and use.
Older children who are not supervised and who attend flash parties, rave parties and who travel freely to hook up with anyone that they wish to are sitting ducks for the first drug abusing acquaintance or seller who wants a new companion in drug abuse or a new client.
When celebrities are seen as continuing in their work, making new films, getting paid a million dollars for one interview after repeatedly being arrested or thrown into rehabilitation, young people see that the consequences are not serious at all. But when the poorer and darker skinned counterparts are sentenced to longer terms in jail, children are easily convinced that jail is just fine. They may be lied to or sheltered from the horror stories about life in long term jail sentences.
In summary, lifestyle, exposure, access and opportunity and minimizing or lying about consequences all serve to create a very easy road to a truncated lifetime of drug abuse.