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Substance Abuse Literature Review

People often abuse substances such as alcohol, drugs tobacco for many varied and complicated reasons. It is very clear that our society plays an important role in the existence of this vice. The major indicators of the increase in substance abuse are the daily cases of health damage in hospitals and the many police reports of crime related to substance abuse. The judiciary has had to rule over cases that show the direct connection between the crime committed and the dependence and abuse of substances in the country. Some drugs are more abused than others and they all affect how society functions. This document through considering prominent authors of the subject of substance abuse will outline the aspects, strategies of the authors in establishing conclusions. The major conclusions discussed by the authors will also be looked into and then thereafter, my personal reaction to how the conclusion reached affects the practice will be given.

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There are many people who are in the practice of rehabilitating the American society from the hard hits of substance abuse as stated by Tarter (2002). These practitioners write books and journals to explain and outline the methods through which society can reduce the many substance abuse cases. The personal and social damage that substance abuse inflicts on young people compels the school, the family, and the nation to develop new strategies for treatment and prevention of the substances. According to Deas & Thomas (2001), drug abuse is the use of any chemical substance that causes physical, mental, emotional, or social harm to an individual or to the people close to him/her. America poses the highest level of drug use among young people among the other developed country of the world.

Abused substances produce some form of intoxication that alters judgment, perception, attention, or physical control. This has to lead many of the practitioners to write on the concept and details of Alcohol and other drugs abuse. This is also known as AOD. This part of the document will focus on the details of the drugs abused and alcohol. The abuse of alcohol is the most prevalent in American society. Teenagers and young adults are the main flag bearers of this abuse. Alcohol is viewed by the young in society as a personality enhancer since it leads one to think of themselves as more confident than in normal conditions. According to Glynn, Leukefeld, and Ludford (1984), the American society has a 10% of the population as alcohol dependent or abusers. Alcohol is a brain depressant. Its effects such as lessening of inhibitions, a slurred speech, the decrease in muscle control and overall coordination of the human body are just a few of the many outcomes of its consumption. Alcohol is highly addictive and often leads to alcoholism. In the event that a person wants to quit alcohol consumption, they will experience what the practitioners know as withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms include a lot of anxiety, irregular heartbeat, seizures, tremor, and hallucinations. The withdrawer ought to practice nutritional feeding or else they may suffer from a life-threatening malnutrition ailment known as delirium tremens (DTs) as stated by Fisher & Harrison (2009). The many cases of liver failure are attributed to alcohol consumption. Other ailments include heart enlargement and cancers of the stomach, pancreas, and esophagus. The drug often creates impaired vision. This according to many reports is a major cause of road accidents in many states. The overall result of this is the breaking of a stable family and in most cases creates single parenthood.

Tobacco, which is the second most abused substance in America. The common reasons for tobacco use include a source of pleasure, improves performance and vigilance, helps bring relief of depression, curbs hunger, and is used to help weight control. The health hazards that come with cigarette smoking include heart disease, lung cancer and emphysema, peptic ulcer disease, and stroke. Those who opt to withdraw from the abuse of this substance, suffer various Withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms include anxiety, hunger, sleep disturbances, and depression. The smoking of tobacco is responsible for many deaths in America annually and the high direct or indirect medical care costs.

There are many other drugs that Americans abuse. Any non-prescribed drug that is meant to enhance human ability or emotion is illegal. The assessment and treatment of substance abuse is necessary in any society. Substance assessment involves the identification of the drugs that are abused and by which society. Treatment on the other hand often occurs after the individual has come to an understanding that he or she needs to stop abusing the substances. Treatment includes therapies and rehabilitation programs. These are not easy as discussed by many practitioners since the clients have a tendency to have a defensive approach to the problem. The client may decide to withdraw from the treatment and waste time in their cocoon of escapism.

Substance abuse assessment is necessary to proceed in treating the victim of the abuse. In order to assess the individual, the social worker or school counselor must acknowledge the reasons that lead to the abuse. The assessment process involves interrogation of medical fraternities on the cases per drug abused that they handle and making a valid report. The report should identify the age groups, sex and at times race of the patient. These factors help to determine the troubled group in society. There are family factors which affect the child who ends up abusing substances. These factors include: Chaotic home environment, ineffective parenting and lack of nurturing and parental attachment for the child. There are other factors beyond the family that lead to development of the tendency to abuse substances. These factors are inappropriately aggressive or shy behavior in the classroom, poor social coping skills, poor school performance, association with a deviant peer group, and perception of approval of drug use behavior as cool and popular. All these factors in one way or the other lead to the addition of the child to what they view as the relevant substance to solve their problem. According to Fisher & Harrison (2009), there is an increase in the number of adolescents who are entering treatment for various substance abuse. These adolescents have social and developmental deficits of great magnitude. At school according to (Fisher & Harrison, 2009), the students display deterioration in academic performance, increased absenteeism and truancy, fighting, verbal abuse, defiance, or withdrawal are visible indicators.

The treatment procedure includes the social worker for example becoming part of the child’s daily activities in order to develop a clear insight of what may have lead to the abuse and how to counter it. The substance abusers are often resistant to change and do not always follow through to the set programs and arranged schedules of treatment. They need to be brought to an understanding that their problem is not unique and that other individuals are experiencing the same and have taken the initiative to make appropriate changes as stated by Owen & Nyberg (1983, p.254). At this juncture, group counseling is viewed as the best alternative for the substance abusers. They will interact with fellow victims and work together towards becoming free from their addictions. There are many key groups that deal with these groups such as the A.A. the grouping ensures that there is a supportive environment for one to express and recover from the addiction. Most substance abusers are known to be dependent and show great levels of manipulative traits. They will often deny, blame others and find a rational excuse for their substance abusive behaviour. The group helps the abusers recognize and confront these defenses, it should offer both support and confrontation. The end result will be the resocialization of the individual as stated by Tarter (2002, p. 172). Most social workers and counselors acknowledge that interventions work better than treatment. Interventions are the fore warnings of a substance abuser for example of the dangers of the substance and the results of its addiction. Interventions are based on the observations that have been made and the recommended changes that the counselor sees as fit for the abuser.

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The treatment procedure may be informed of counseling or inform of medical care. The substance abuser in most cases faces other problems and these problems need to be solved concurrently with the cause of substance abuse. The abuser may suffer from health, occupational, legal, familial, and social and financial problems. The American government has made its priority to curb the great levels of substance abuse and create a drug-free environment for the generations to come while maintaining a clean generation of young people. The government has continued to invest heavily in keeping the program on its toes. The social worker ought to know when to intervene on the addict or abuser he or she should choose to address the issue when the addict is calm and not under the drug’s influence. The social worker then should lay out the consequences of the addicts actions by making them understand the value of the changes they ought to make. The key steps of the intervention include: the family of the individual should stop what the social workers call the rescue missions. Most family members see interventions as ways of victimizing their family members and hence they protect them against confrontations and rehabilitating procedures making the process slow. The family members may also play the role of enabling the addict to continue in the trend by fixing all the problems they cause and bailing them out of jail and misfortunes for example. The social worker has to consider the best time to intervene. The social worker should be specific and address the issues head on. The worker should also state the consequences to the addict hence justifying the need for the intervention. The family and friends of the addict should be brought in to help the worker find strength in numbers to be able to deal with the addict all around. The worker should listen to the addict or abuser in order to administer relevant treatment. The worker should not base their judgment based on their personal experiences but rather on the situation at hand.

The media and the society at large are responsible for the many misleading concepts of substance use and the pursuit of fame and greatness in the world. In the treatment process, the abuser is educated on how to make quality judgments from the pressures of his or her environment and from the media. A major boost to the fight against substance abuse is education on substance abuse. Schools programs and clubs ought to have an awareness module that helps the young in society to know the consequences of substance abuse. The students will also get a chance to meet individuals who have encountered substance abuse-oriented problems and relate what they have learnt. To most students, the encounter with such individuals is experienced daily from home. Every family in America has had an encounter with a substance abuser either directly or indirectly. Most of the clients social workers meet have problems that are linked to substance abuse as stated by (Fisher & Harrison, 2009). There is a need therefore for the social worker to embrace the changes in society regarding substance abuse. The social worker must understand the frame of thought of the addicts and relate to their problems from a professional point of view. The practitioner has to separate humane reactions from the professional expectations. The worker has been bound to legally protect the expressions of the client and in the event that the worker exposes the details of the client to help them out they may be sued or their license may be revoked.

Personally, I perceive the conclusions by substance abuse workers as relevant and informative. The authors have made it clear that there is need to educate children and their families on the vices of substance abuse and addiction. The addict is a product of his or her environment. The social worker has a great role to play in rehabilitating the individual. The social worker should play the role of a counselor, friend and confidant, to the victim for there to be effective change. The family of the victim should also provide a supportive structure for the victim without creating room for excuses and withdrawal tendencies from the rehabilitation program. The conclusions of the authors have greatly affected the practice of social work or counseling. The professionals are now forced to consider the patient or client from a personal involvement without necessarily getting into a personal rapport. The problem is viewed from a broader perspective hence bringing in more team players. This move may lead to great dispute among the involved people and lengthen the rehabilitation procedure.

The social worker has a duty to create an understanding in the addict of the consequences of his or her actions. The addict should view the effects of the consequences as personal and affecting society at large. The social worker should address the problems that exist in relation to the substance abuse to get effective results. This tends to limit the social workers time per client due to the many agendas per client that he or she has to deal with. Every patient ought to receive specialized treatment. The social worker has a duty to every of his client. They ought to maintain a code of silence while at the same time help the institution that has hired them to maintain a drug-free environment as stated by (Fisher & Harrison, 2009). These aspects require a lot of intelligent judgments and actions.

The family also plays a big role in the development and treatment of substance abuse. Study shows that individual from families that experience substance abuses tend to follow suit. The teenagers in those families experience at times violent encounters from parents and siblings and may take it out on the students in their institutions of learning. This may be the leading cause of bullies in schools and the pulling of hateful pranks. The social worker has a duty to make the child not to blame themselves for the problems that exist in his or her setting to a point of seeking refuge in substances. The worker has the role also of making the parents realize the intensity of their addiction problems on their children’s progress. The social worker in a high school for example has the duty to create awareness on substance abuse against the popular messages of the kids who are viewed as cool and who use drugs. The American government has also lend a hand in the fight against substance abuse by providing enough material to educate the society on drug abuse. The government has also set up rehabilitating programs for substance abusers.

In conclusion, there are various ways of substance abuse assessment and treatment. The models of approaches help the social workers to be able to relate to the substance abusers. The drugs that are commonly abused are alcohol and tobacco. The two substances have brought many health and social problems to American society. The main reasons assessed to be the causes of drug abuse include parental problems, peer pressure, stress and personal development issues. There is need however for every individual to identify that drug abuse is a current problem that needs to be addressed. Treatment occurs in two types namely behavioral treatment or medicinal. Behavioral treatment will lead to an analysis of social issues that affect the person leading them to substance abuse. The document has looked into the various ways that social workers address the treatment procedures and how the problem of addiction can be tackled. Substance abuse is related more to the social needs and occurrences of both society and individual and hence should be handled by the relevant societies. Millions of Americans lose their lives to substance abuse and these need to change. The state authorities and the society of various parts of the state should work towards making America a drug-free state. These will result to a society that has an almost ideal state of existence.


Deas Deborah, Thomas E. Suzanne. (2001). An Overview of Controlled Studies of Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment. American Journal on Addictions 10:2, 178-189

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Fisher, G., & Harrison, T. (2009). Substance abuse: Information for school counselors, social workers, therapists, and counselors (4th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Glynn, J., Leukefeld, C., & Ludford, J. (1984). Preventing Adolescent Drug Abuse, Intervention Strategies. Rockville, MD: ERIC Clearinghouse.

Owen P. & Nyberg L. (1983). Assessing alcohol and drug problems among adolescents: Current practices. J. Drug Educ. 13: 249–254

Tarter, R. (2002). Etiology of Adolescent Substance Abuse: A Developmental Perspective. American Journal on Addictions 11:3, 171-191

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