Substance abuse refers to unsafe or hazardous use of substances that are psychoactive. Such substances may include alcohol or illicit drugs (Nisse, 2008). With repetitive use, these substances become addictive and it becomes hard to control the desire to use them. Juvenile justice is part of criminal law that deals with persons who are under the age of eighteen. The major objective of the juvenile system is to rehabilitate and not punish the young ones (Nisse, 2008).
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Substance abuse in the young people may be attributed to the social disorganization theory where the community is unable to attain its core values and solve problems adequately. Based on this theory, it is likely that most young persons will indulge in substance abuse because they have not been taught the core values of their community. The inability of the community to deal with initial problems of substance abuse results in subsequent ones and in such cases, the law has to step in (Farabee, 2009).
The juvenile justice system has several programs that aim at arresting substance use in the young persons. The drug court is one of the major programs (Johnson, 2009). The aim of these courts is to monitor drug use and most often, they offer a team of professionals who provide the services. These services include vocational training, recreation, health care, mentorship, drug and mental care treatment. These courts offer continuous supervision to the drug victims and thus reduce subsequent arrests. One shortcoming of the drug courts is that they do not improve family relationships and disciplinary practices.
Family-based and multisystem drug treatment is also used in juvenile justice to reduce substance use. This program provides treatment on most of the drugs while the victim is at home (McKay, 2010). The main emphasis of the victim being at home is to foster family relationship and also provide moral support. Multisystem drug treatment is preferred over individual drug therapies since it helps in arresting the addiction of most of the drugs in a short time. With this therapy, a victim’s desire for another substance is maximally reduced. The major challenge in this program is victim drop out and negligence in taking the required treatment.
Another program often used by juvenile justice is the Alumni help program where the former victims who have been rehabilitated are used to mentor the addicted victims (Bobo, 2010). This program is more preferred by the victims because they have more things in common with the mentors and thus are able to cope up well.The mentors have a responsibility of assessing the best remedy in terms of treatment for the victims. The mentors also provide moral support to the victims.
There are multiple causes of delinquency that have been addressed by these programs. Peer pressure which is the major cause of delinquency has been largely handled especially with the alumni and drug court programs (Farabee, 2009). The young persons are given training in various aspects of life and thus they are able to withstand peer pressure. These programs have also helped in addressing crimes that result from socio-economic conditions such as poverty, race and child abuse. The trainings provided by this program help the young people to know their rights as children (McKay, 2010). This avoids the delinquencies that arise from racism and child abuse. The vocational training offered by the drug courts are helpful in ensuring that the young people remain committed most of their times. This in turn helps to eradicate idleness among them which is also a major cause of delinquency (Bobo, 2010).
Bobo, J. Y. (2010). Effect of smoking cessation counseling on recovery from alcoholism: findings from a randomized community intervention trial. Addiction, 93 (1), 877– 87.
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Farabee, D. (2009). Reductions in substance use are associated with reductions in offending among adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Research, 16 (6), 79–96.
Johnson, T. G. (2009). Treatment need and utilization among youth entering the juvenile corrections’ system. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 26 (3), 17– 28.
McKay, J. (2010). Continuing care in the treatment of addictive disorders. Current Psychiatry Reports, 8 (5), 55–62.
Nisse, L. K. (2008). The reclaiming futures initiative: improving substance abuse intervention for justice involved youth. Juvenile and Family Court Journal, 57 (4), 39–52.