Treating Adolescent Substance Abuse

Topics: Drug addiction, Addiction, Heroin Pages: 6 (1924 words) Published: November 5, 2013
Experimenting with alcohol and drugs is nothing new for adolescents, but there is an increasing trend that more and more teens are abusing alcohol and drugs. According to the Colorado Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division of the Department of Health (1989), Colorado exceeds the national average in per capita consumption of beer, wine and liquor. These statistics are not exclusive to adults. As many as 65 to 75 percent of substance abuse in Colorado are between the ages of 12 to 29. Furthermore, 33 percent of teenagers experience problems at home, school, work or in the community stemming from substance abuse. The fact that teenagers become addicted more quickly than adults contributes to these problems (Office of Substance Abuse Prevention, 1989). There are some teens that experiment and stop but there are some adolescents that do not see the negative health consequences that come with abuse; this is where treatment comes in. No one person can be treated the same for alcohol and drug abuse, therefore adults and adolescents cannot be treated the same way either. Treatments need to occur early in life because if substance abuse problems are not treated they can develop into worse and more dangerous conditions. Rising substance abuse problems among adolescents is on the rise. From the 1980s to the 1990s, the percentage of American youth ages 14-18 who require treatment for substance abuse doubled. Although rates of substance abuse have decreased since the 1990s, American secondary students have one of the highest rates of illicit drug use in an industrialized country (Alcaraz, 2010). Society should recognize that this is a serious problem. More research needs to be done on trends of substance abuse, risk factors, and treatment options for adolescents and families. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), illicit drugs include marijuana (includes hash), cocaine (includes crack), heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, and non-medical use of prescription pain relievers, tranquilizers, sedatives, and stimulants (Alcaraz, 2010). Among these drugs marijuana is the most commonly used and the second most is prescription drugs. A study done by the University of California Riverside shows a correlation between frequency and severity of drug use and frequency and severity of juvenile delinquency (Alcaraz, 2010). In addition to legal problems, substance abuse can lead to health concerns.

Substance abuse can lead to physical health and mental health concerns. Numerous studies have demonstrated associations between adolescent drug use and abuse and symptoms scales on measures of low self esteem, depression, antisocial behavior, rebelliousness, aggressiveness, crime, delinquency, truancy, and poor school performance (Armstrong, 2002). The only way to prevent substance abuse is prevention. The best way to prevent something is to identify the risk factors. Research indicates that youth most likely to engage in substance abuse exhibit a range of dysfunctional and antisocial behavioral and are poorly bonded to school, families, or prosocial peers (Eggert, 2006).

One of the most recognized and a common form of prevention is a school based program called DARE. This acronym stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education. This program was created in by the Los Angeles Police Department in 1983 along with local school districts. Since its inception, DARE has been adopted by approximately 50% of local school districts nationwide, and it continues to spread rapidly (Ennett, 1994). DARE typically is offered to older elementary grade students, before moving on to middle school. But how effective is the program? Susan Ennett, PHD, conducted a study on this topic. She concluded that DARE’s immediate effects were short lived and long term effects of the program were almost nothing. There is no evidence that DARE’s effects are activated when subjects are older. Most long term evaluations of drug abuse prevention...
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