As revealed in the presented Lot in Life, truant behaviors start to be manifested as early as at the age of 14, a situation that parents expect the least from their teenage children. It is crucial to point out that several issues pave the way for teenage drug abuse. The case provided reveals parental ignorance, peer pressure, and drug availability as some of the key issues that trigger teenagers to engage in drug and substance abuse.
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The case also makes it apparent that drug and substance abuse among teenagers has devastating impacts that range from poor academic performance and health issues to withdrawing from society, among others. Hence, it is crucial for governments, not just the U.S., where teenage drug and substance abuse are on the rise, but also other countries, to establish mechanisms that can help to fight the menace. This study seeks to link what researchers have examined with the above issues.
Parental Ignorance and Teenage Drug and Substance Abuse
Parents play the biggest role in shaping the behavior and the ultimate life of their children. In fact, they are the first people who children get to know and/or interact with from their very early stages in life. Hence, children learn from what they are presented with by their parents. Hence, any failure on the part of parents to raise their children, for instance, being ignorant or too busy with other matters such as a job, is bound to interfere with a child’s behavior.
The case presented confirms the validity of this claim whereby the parent who is narrating the teenager’s issues seems much occupied with work to the extent that he or she cannot manage to do close day-to-day monitoring of the teenager in question. Nanninga, Jansen, Knorth, and Reijnevel (2015) conducted a study to examine the various factors that inform the placement of young children between four and eighteen years old in psychosocial care settings, owing to their heightened behavioral problems.
Although the authors do not specify some of the problems that children demonstrate to warrant such a step, it is probable that the issue of drug and substance abuse is among them. The study findings reveal the lack of proper parental support as one of the major triggers of teenage behavioral problems such as the engagement in illicit drugs, including alcohol that is evident in the teenage understudy.
In the context of the case provided, the issue of parents being busy with work and their failure to closely monitor their children’s behavior during and after school has contributed substantially to the observed drug abuse. In fact, it is possible that the 14-year-old teenager has been abusing alcohol and other drugs for long to the extent of taking some when in the comfort of his or her room at home. This situation is indicative of lenient parents who never bother to examine routinely the activities that take place in their children’s rooms. Young (2015) presents a category of ignorant parents who live with the assumption that their children cannot abuse drugs.
The article terms this assumption as dangerous and among the key contributors to the heightened teenage engagement in drug and substance abuse. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (as cited in Waithima, 2017), almost 10% of the global 12-17-year-olds have been reported to be abusing drugs. The teenager under study lies in this category, with the lack of proper parental attention having contributed considerably to the situation.
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Peer Pressure Among Teenagers Facilitates Drug and Substance Abuse
Many children grow in an environment where they are free to interact with their peers. Such interaction may be constructive or counterproductive, depending on the agendas that the respective peer groups seek to achieve. Such goals subject teenagers to a substantial pressure whereby they strive to conform to any demands raised by their peers. Boruah (2016) carried out a study on the role that positive peer pressure plays in molding a child’s healthy social and psychological behavior.
In the context of the given case, one would expect positive peer pressure to have played a key role in ensuring academic excellence that the parent reports having been demonstrated previously by the 14-year-old child. Probably he or she was formerly a member of study groups that embraced group work or discussions in class to help one another in their studies. However, the parent reveals a worrying situation where the teenager is depicted going out for parties with his or her peers and coming back home drunk.
This situation is indicative of negative peer pressure that has ruined the teenager’s behavior. Lakon, Hipp, Wang, Butts, and Jose (2015) paint a picture of the extent of destruction that negative peer pressure can bring to a teenager. The authors acknowledge the receptiveness of minors to peer pressure, where they end up establishing networks of engaging in illicit behaviors such as smoking. It is possible that the 14-year-old also smokes in addition to abusing alcohol.
Drug Accessibility Contributes to Teenage Truant Behaviors
A case was reported in Kenya, where police seized more than 500 adolescents abusing drugs such as bhang and alcohol in a club (Mwirigi, 2015). Barely a fortnight later, another group of at least 200 teenagers was caught in a similar incident in the same country. From this occurrence, it is apparent that the teenagers abused alcohol and bhang because they had the financial capability to acquire them. Some teenagers either do part-time jobs, especially if they are in school or get money from their parents.
This Kenyan scenario reflects the situation for the parent-teenager drug abuse issue under investigation. First, the parent clarifies that the 14-year-old has access to money from the allowances he or she gets while at home. Secondly, the scene depicts another issue where other drugs seem to be available in this family as evidenced by the parent’s statement that he or she will lock up all other drugs accessible from within the home compound as a way of ensuring that the teenager does not get a chance of using any drugs.
In another study conducted by the University of Michigan, the results reveal that many teenagers abuse prescription drugs because they can effortlessly access them at home, following the lack of close supervision by their parents (Wadley, 2013). In fact, as Wadley (2013) reveals, “Three in four teens who were prescribed medication during the last six months had unsupervised access to them at home, likely increasing the risk of overdose, substance abuse, and drug diversion” (para. 1).
These drug accessibility issues are apparent from the given case. The family not only has drugs that are easily reachable to the teenager but also can afford to give him or her some allowance where nobody follows up to see how the money is spent. Hence, drug accessibility is one of the key factors that contributed to the truant behavior observed in the adolescent.
Impacts of Drug and Substance Abuse Among Teenagers
The scenario provided reveals that indeed drug and substance abuse has devastating impacts on a teenager’s health, academic performance, and even social life. In terms of health, the study done by Brown University Child & Adolescent Psychopharmacology Update (2017) presents depression as one of the health issues that teenagers who abuse drugs go through. The 14-year-old is indeed depressed. The teenager’s life is characterized by anger and loss of interest in activities.
The adolescent is depicted, locking himself or herself in the room where he or she probably stays for long without the presence of other people. The teenager’s state of mind is in line with what Brown University & Child Adolescent Psychopharmacology Update (2017) find in the study where “Many young people experience feelings of sadness and helplessness or somewhat withdrawn” (p. 5). In addition, young people under the influence of drugs end up ignoring their roles in the family.
For instance, a responsible teenager is expected to be a role model for others. He or she may be at the forefront initiating constructive programs such as class discussions, assisting parents and siblings where necessary, and even attending to his or her assignments thoroughly and promptly. Unfortunately, the teenager presented in the scene takes the opposite of the above expectations. Firstly, the teenager’s grades are going down, a situation that is indicative of his or her irresponsibility in school. It is arguable that he or she no longer participates in class affairs. Secondly, the parent makes it apparent that the 14-year-old is not attending to his duties at home.
Parents’ Role in Addressing the Issue of Teenage Drug Abuse
The study by the National Crime Prevention Council (2017) confirms that, indeed, parents have a key role to play in addressing the issue of drug and substance abuse among teenagers. In fact, the article recommends to parents to talk to their children beginning from their 4th grade. Although the teenager’s parent seems to be aware of this fact, he or she may have been late in implementing the plan at home and hence the reason why the teenager accessed illicit drugs.
The parent is aware of the need for close and consistent communication between him or her and the teenager. In addition, he or she appreciates the need to ensure that no drugs are made accessible to teenagers. Therefore, from the scenario given, parents who supervise their adolescent children are less expected to encounter such irresponsible behaviors.
Conclusively, all parents wish to raise their children in a manner that will make them responsible adults. In fact, parents go the extra mile to invest huge financial resources in their children’s education with the hope that they will excel academically, secure well-paying jobs, and give back to the community, among other anticipations. Responsible children also anticipate taking care of their parents and the society as a way of appreciating the combined efforts made for them to reach such milestones. However, not all children or parents live to see the actualization of this dream. Some children’s long-awaited bright future might be interfered with following their engagement in drug and substance abuse.
Boruah, A. (2016). Positive impacts of peer pressure: A systematic review. Indian Journal of Positive Psychology, 7(1), 127-130.
Brown University Child & Adolescent Psychopharmacology Update. (2017). MH treatment not keeping pace with rising increase in youth depression. Web.
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Lakon, C., Hipp, J., Wang, C., Butts, C., & Jose, R. (2015). Simulating dynamic network models and adolescent smoking: The impact of varying peer influence and peer selection. American Journal of Public Health, 105(12), 2438-2448.
Mwirigi, T. (2015). Why drug abuse is on the rise among teens. Daily Nation. Web.
Nanninga, M., Jansen, D., Knorth, E., & Reijnevel, S. (2015). Enrolment of children and adolescents in psychosocial care: More likely with low family social support and poor parenting skills. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry, 24, 407-416.
National Crime Prevention Council. (2017). How parents can prevent drug abuse. Web.
Wadley, J. (2013). Most teen have easy access to prescription drugs. Michigan News. Web.
Waithima, C. (2017). Substance use assessment among school going adolescents in Kenya. African Journal of Clinical Psychology, 1, 23-35.
Young, K. (2015). Teens and drugs. What parents can do – The signs. The conversation. The response. Web.