June 10, 2009
Lessons To Be Learned From History About Youth Substance Abuse
My topic in this research paper will talk about adolescent substance abuse in America. I chose this topic because I have a personal involvement and I desire to gain more insight on prevention and intervention. Dick Shaefer, a chaplain working with chemically dependent youth, points out that every parent today worries about substance abuse. Every teacher knows that some of his or her students are experimenting with drugs and/or alcohol. The good news is that we all can do something (1). In today’s economy, substance abuse may be on the rise. I believe though, if education and interventions begin early, our students can identify and resist pressures to understand the social, emotional, and physical consequences of using harmful substances.
I think readers of this paper would be interested to know the statistics, trends, and lifestyles in depicting the onset of substance abuse in adolescents. Bruce Bower’s article, Parenting Shapes Genetic Risk for Drug Use, argues the reasons surrounding why one would begin abusing and people may have different ideas suggesting possible biological or genetic reasoning. The purpose of this paper is to explore the obstacles adolescents’ today face in dealing with causes of their substance use. We will also examine the history of substance abuse and how our nation got to where it is now. I will tidy it all up by discussing how we, as a society, can meet the needs of our nation’s most vulnerable youth that fall victim to the economic and social hardships of today. As a parent and new grandparent, it is hard for me to imagine that a child I love could end up using drugs. Chances are, though, most children will be faced with, “should I, or shouldn’t I?” Instead of, “I shouldn’t, and I won’t.” We all know adolescence is a time of transition and change. It is a time when youth work toward educational and vocational goals, take on exciting new responsibilities, and prepare for their transition to adulthood. Today, with the national economy rocked by instability, what messages should parents, schools, and government anti-drug agencies deliver to those adolescents? I know this problem well enough to understand that the most important battles need to be fought at home. I can attest that what happens across my kitchen table or in my living room, that I, as a parent, have the greatest influence on whether my children will smoke pot, snort cocaine, take meth, or binge drink. I tend to look for “teachable moments” when an alcohol, tobacco, or a drug-related event has caught my eye. If we are watching a show that portrays alcohol, tobacco, or other drug use as funny or grownup, I would say something like, “this program doesn’t show the other side of drugs. Some of the bad things that could happen are...” This will provide them with my views and hopefully empower them with knowledge as well. Substance abuse among our young is a complex personal, social, and political issue that will continue to offer much opportunity for debate (Aue 17). Smoking, drinking and drug use among young teens is higher in rural America than in the nation's large urban centers, according to the article No Place to Hide: Substance Abuse in Mid-Size Cities and Rural America. Science author Margaret Hyde and Yale University School of Medicine physician John Setaro agrees and contributes that our youth also needs to know that substance abuse causes more deaths, illnesses, and disabilities than any other preventable health condition (74). Why then do our youth use drugs/alcohol?
At some point, we all have to ask the question: what is it that makes Americans, particularly our youth, so much in need to escape from the psychological environments in which they are situated? Another question parents ask when faced with the fact that their son or daughter is using drugs or alcohol is, “WHY?” “He knows...