StudyCorgi Sociology

Caring for Vulnerable Population: Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is a rampant problem in the current society despite the availability of information regarding the consequences of drug abuse. Studies show that 10% of Americans aged 12 years and above are likely to experiment with an illegal drug in a 30-day period (Johnson et al., 2015). Extrapolating this value into the lifetime of the U.S. population provides astonishingly high rates of substance abuse. The prevailing surroundings have been reported to increase or decrease an individual’s risk of becoming a drug addict (Wheeler, Crozier, Robinson, Pawlow, & Mihala, 2014). For instance, the community attitudes surrounding drug use are directly proportional to the misuse of drugs (Polonsky et al., 2015).

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The selected community for this survey is Miami Gardens, which is a suburb area situated in the Miami City, Florida. The main ethnicities of people living in this area are African Americans and Latinos aged between 16 and 65 years (Allender, Rector, & Warner, 2014). However, adolescents constitute the bulk of the population. The community is characterized by diverse groups that closely related, for example, Latinos from different regions such as Mexico and the Caribbean. There are aspects of communal living as indicated by the frequent sharing of public spaces during meetings and worship activities. The population is healthy though isolated cases of obesity can be identified. The purpose of this paper is to describe a community, its key features, available resources and a specific vulnerable group identified in this community.

Vulnerable Population Overview

The main vulnerable population identified in the community is characterized by drug and alcohol addicts. Most of the affected individuals are homeless who lack jobs and struggle to make ends meet. Consequently, they are unable to realize their potential. The available rehabilitation services cannot meet their needs. The affected individuals are also unable to pursue their potential.

Strengths, Risk Factors, and Barriers

The first community strength identified is communal living as marked by frequent meetings, which is an indication of cohesiveness. According to a study conducted by Clontz and Gibbs (2017) indicates that cohesion improves the effectiveness of group work, which improves the efficiency of substance abuse treatment. The availability of factories and business firms is another strength of the community because of the provision of employment. Employed individuals are likely to spend their time on income-generating activities, thus reducing the available leisure time that is likely to promote the abuse of illicit drugs (Kissin, Tang, Arieira, Claus, & Orwin, 2015). The area is served by several operational recreational facilities, for example, dedicated playgrounds for children, which discourage children from playing in the alleys and parking lots (Allender et al., 2014). The streets, alleys and parking lots re also well-lit. The avoidance of alleys is good indication that the problem of alcoholism and substance abuse can be addressed successfully.

The common risk factor identified in the community is homelessness. The windshield survey indicated a large number of women with children in the streets, which is an indication of homeless families. Homeless individuals are likely to abuse drugs (Tompsett, Domoff, & Toro, 2013). The community also has a small fraction of unemployed individuals. Unemployment is also linked to substance abuse (Melchior, Chollet, Elidemir, Galéra, & Younès, 2015). The identified community barrier is inadequate institutions for the homeless to address the problem of homeless individuals in the community.

Community Resources

The community has sufficient healthcare facilities such as nursing homes, mobile clinics, and health departments to address the people’s health problems. Additionally, the Internet shows that there are a variety of drug rehabilitation facilities in Miami, Florida. These facilities are ranked based on the cost of treatment and the prestige of the facility. For example, AA Alcoholics Anonymous Central Service, Capital Rehabilitation Center, Safe Landing Recovery among others (, 2017). These resources are aimed at helping individuals to break free from substance abuse. The resources are adequate to address the needs of the community. However, the cases of substance abuse could be attributed to inadequate knowledge regarding the existence of these services or the prohibitive costs required to be admitted into some of the facilities.

Community Health Problem Diagnosis

One priority community health problem that should be addressed by a community health nurse is substance abuse. One of the goals of Healthy people 2020 (2017) is to eliminate substance abuse to safeguard the wellbeing and quality of life of all people. Substance abuse has a detrimental impact on people, their families and the entire society. Some of the consequences of substance abuse include increased crime rates, infections of HIV/AIDs and other sexually transmitted infections, domestic violence, child abuse, suicide, and road carnages. As a result, the Federal Government has begun to execute health reform legislation to provide services such as treatment and prevention for people with substance use problems. Therefore, a community health nurse can address this issue by identifying cases of substance abuse, providing patient education and referring the affected individuals to available community resources for additional help.

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The identified vulnerable group in the community includes the victims of alcohol and substance abuse. Most of these people are homeless and unemployed. Unemployment affects their socioeconomic status and their capacity to meet their daily needs. The priority problem identified is substance abuse. Even though the community has adequate rehabilitation facilities to address the problem, there appears to be a knowledge gap in the utilization of these resources to overcome substance addiction. Therefore, community health nurses in this area could address the problem of substance abuse by increasing awareness about the problem and promoting the use of the facilities.


Allender, J., Rector, C., & Warner, K. (2014). Community and public health nursing: Promoting the public’s health. New York, NY: Wolters Kluwer Health.

Clontz, N. S., & Gibbs, A. L. (2017). Factors that affect group work: group cohesion and therapeutic alliance in substance abuse treatment and personal growth groups (Doctoral dissertation, Brenau University).

Healthy People 2020. (2017). Substance abuse. Web.

Johnson, R. M., Fairman, B., Gilreath, T., Xuan, Z., Rothman, E. F., Parnham, T., & Furr-Holden, C. D. M. (2015). Past 15-year trends in adolescent marijuana use: differences by race/ethnicity and sex. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 155, 8-15.

Kissin, W. B., Tang, Z., Arieira, C. R., Claus, R. E., & Orwin, R. G. (2015). Women’s employment outcomes following gender-sensitive substance abuse treatment. Journal of Drug Issues, 45(2), 166-179.

Melchior, M., Chollet, A., Elidemir, G., Galéra, C., & Younès, N. (2015). Unemployment and substance use in young adults: Does educational attainment modify the association? European Addiction Research, 21(3), 115-123.

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Polonsky, M., Azbel, L., Wickersham, J. A., Taxman, F. S., Grishaev, E., Dvoryak, S., & Altice, F. L. (2015). Challenges to implementing opioid substitution therapy in Ukrainian prisons: Personnel attitudes toward addiction, treatment, and people with HIV/AIDS. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 148, 47-55. (2017). Florida inpatient drug rehab clinics. Web.

Tompsett, C. J., Domoff, S. E., & Toro, P. A. (2013). Peer substance use and homelessness predicting substance abuse from adolescence through early adulthood. American Journal of Community Psychology, 51(3-4), 520-529.

Wheeler, A., Crozier, M., Robinson, G., Pawlow, N., & Mihala, G. (2014). Assessing and responding to hazardous and risky alcohol and other drug use: The practice, knowledge and attitudes of staff working in mental health services. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, 21(3), 234-243.

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StudyCorgi. "Caring for Vulnerable Population: Substance Abuse." December 19, 2020.


StudyCorgi. 2020. "Caring for Vulnerable Population: Substance Abuse." December 19, 2020.


StudyCorgi. (2020) 'Caring for Vulnerable Population: Substance Abuse'. 19 December.

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