Teenager Case Study: Substance Abuse

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For youth leaders, this is a study of a teenager who has a substance abuse problem and was released from a detention center. It involves a seventeen old male who abuses marijuana, alcohol, and ecstasy; and is also the son of two ministers. This story should help readers understand the dynamics involved with a teenage drug user and will also help youth leaders develop effective skills for reaching out to a troubled teen in need of support, especially after incarceration. A seventeen-year-old male, "Jimmy," lived in a middle-class suburb. Jimmy was referred to me by his sister, because she felt my knowledge and past experiences might be helpful in reaching him. Later on I decided to meet and conduct an interview at his house, with his sister present in an adjacent room. During the conversation, several facts emerged. Jimmy had been in trouble with the legal system, mostly for drug possession and motor vehicle infractions. He said he had been kicked out of high school because of his drug use. He had been using alcohol and marijuana since he was about 13. He had more recently been taking ecstasy. When asked why he used drugs, he claimed it reduced his boredom and provided a way to escape and have fun. Additionally, it was discerned that his father worked long hours (in the mental health field), and was basically absent from the family. Later, I learned that his father denied his son’s habits. The family, which also includes a younger 16-year-old brother, had gone to see a therapist but Jimmy was an unwilling participant. Jimmy noted that he does have a problem with authority figures, like the police, because he believes they are corrupt. Jimmy did admit that police have a job to do, in terms of protecting people from harmful practices. Jimmy also realized that there are consequences of drug use and that he was headed for a state prison sentence if he did not improve his actions. He learned that his mother could be arrested under law if he had drugs in her house;...
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