Currently, the prevalence of substance abuse among the youth is quite alarming. Substance abuse has a significant influence on youth across the world. Substance use and abuse are leading to unwanted pregnancies among teens, delinquency, increased school dropout rates, poor performance, stress, and injuries among other harmful factors (Koehn & Cutcliffe, 2012). This paper will provide a case of Taylor Seeman, who is addicted to alcoholism and in need of counseling assistance. The study will handle two main aspects. First, this paper will look at the primary prevention for youths who are yet to begin using drugs as well as those who are addicted. The essence is to enlighten the youth with relevant information so that they can abstain from drug abuse. The second issue will seek to establish an advocacy for rehabilitation for youths who are currently dependent on drugs by analyzing various approaches that can help prevent drug abuse.
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Substance abuse among the youth is a swiftly evolving phenomenon as many drugs have become readily accessible and affordable for young people. Current studies in the US indicate that alcohol, tobacco products, and cocaine have become commonly used drugs by youth (Pitts & Shrier, 2014). Within the US, drugs, and particularly alcohol has been deep-rooted into the mainstream culture. Alcohol is culturally used as a symbol to celebrate success, and mark every achievement of an individual’s life (Tanner-Smith & Lipsey, 2015). This cultural acceptance of alcohol has created a kind of social normalization of alcohol consumption for all ages. New users are easily induced into this culturally recognized pattern of consumption. Therefore, if the newly induced user persists with alcohol use, s/he is said to be deviating from the cultural norms and is said to be suffering from alcohol addiction.
This study used the qualitative method to conduct in-person interviews targeting the population aged above 13 years and residing in New Jersey. The research timeline was one year. The first 2 months of the study were used to design and frame research questions, acquire Institutional Review Board approval, and conduct a pilot study. The data collection involved two stages -first obtaining informed consent from the parents or learning institutions. Stage 2 involved interviewing the youth within the selected sample frame. The sample design targeted a sample frame of 100 participants from different households. However, only 60 respondents were reached for this study. All the youth recruited had knowledge about drug use and 40% confessed to had a sort of relationship with the rehabilitation services.
Interviews for this study were conducted in a private place to ensure the safety and confidentiality of the respondents. Data analysis was conducted using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). The limitations of the methodology in this study involved accessibility to the youth. The research failed to target a diversity of gender and race. Out of the 60 respondents, only 7% were women, and 10% were non-whites. The study attained its goals by observing that drug abuse was a prevalent problem that needed immediate attention from both researchers and policymakers. However, this paper singled out the case of Taylor to examine the causes and effects of substance abuse among the youth.
The case study
Taylor Seeman is a 16 years old male born and raised in New Jersey, where he schools with his older brother. Taylor’s mother stays at home helping with household chores while his father is a plumber and is often out for work most of the days. Taylor started drinking alcohol at the age of 13 due to ease of accessing alcohol within the house. The father and the mother also drink often in the presence of their two boys. Taylor now drinks five beers every night but on the weekends, the number triples. Taylor is currently not considering stopping alcohol use despite being aware of various risks related to substance abuse. Unlike his brother, Taylor does not see the benefit of going on with studies and intends to drop out of school. Taylor likes mixing alcohol with other drugs like cocaine and tobacco though not often.
To assess Taylor for his level of substance dependency, one needs to obtain details such as the varieties, amount, and frequency of drugs he uses. From this case, Taylor can be viewed as dependent on drugs because he has transitioned from recreational to the habitual phase of consumption. He has been using alcohol for a long time, and it has resulted in an addictive pattern that seems very okay to him since his parents are using. Even though it needs medical screening to determine if Taylor has a genetic element for alcoholism, the fact that his parents consume alcohol could suggest so. Besides, at a tender age of 13, Taylor confesses feeling better after using alcohol. This aspect implies that Taylor may also be living in a sensitive environment and thus he might have sought solace in drugs to adapt to the environment he is exposed to.
In many instances, different cultures abuse readily available drugs. The availability of a drug is an essential aspect that influences how society defines a substance. Culture also influences the expectations of response that society attaches to a certain substance. However, this cultural acceptance has profoundly influenced the youth to embark on drug use at a tender age. Living in an environment such as Taylor’s can easily lead to the problematic use of drugs. A study by Koehn and Cutcliffe (2012) targeting youth involvement in drug abuse indicated that youth who had a good relationship with their parents were less exposed to drug use. Similarly, positive father-mother relationships largely predicted reduced cases of drug use.
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Advocating the prevention of substance use
According to McWhirter (2007), the most effective intervention for both youths who are yet to engage in substance use and those addicted to substance use is the sensitization of young people on the adverse effects of substance use. Early intervention, particularly before high school, is critical. Individuals who start substance use while at their tender age are more likely to encounter withdrawal problems later in life. The use of toolkits can be helpful since it provides information on patterns of abuse, frequency, and commonly abused drugs. The toolkit helps the stakeholders with the information on how to recognize symptoms of substance use, ways to assist youth to avoid drug dependency, and helplines for more assistance if cases of drug dependence are observed.
Promoting substance abuse prevention training in all learning institutions and rehabilitation centers. The ongoing anti-substance abuse talks at learning institutions have made a huge impact. Regardless, there is still a great need to expand instructional services among learners in the following ways, first, encouraging testimonies from ex-abusers to give real-life experiences to discourage non-users and show the addicted users the way to recovery. Second, introduce sensitizing programs in the school curriculum in all schools in the US. Third, peer advocacy approaches targeting the youth as the advocates of the war on substance use should be introduced. Young people have a better understanding of issues that contribute to their deviant behavior and can serve as better advocates for the problems that they have a better understanding. Lastly, screening for drug use should be done in all learning institutions to facilitate medical attention for those who are affected.
Combating substance abuse among the youth can be facilitated through widening the use of online and social media platforms. According to McWhirter (2007), the youth forms the largest population of online users. Therefore, it is easier and cheaper providing information on substance abuse on social platforms since it reaches both the youths and the parents. Anti-drug agencies should join efforts to build more online portals to disseminate the anti-substance use messages.
Nurturing a society of advocates against substance use and abuse can help reduce drug use among the youth. According to Pitts and Shrier (2014), a society that shows solidarity towards a defined course has a huge potential towards realizing their goals. In this light, families, educators, spiritual leaders, youth advocates, and the medical fraternity can come together to form a strong unit of advocates against drug consumption. This unit of advocates can help alleviate some of the factors that exacerbate youth involvement in drugs such as family crisis and living in a drug-related environment. Furthermore, it is easier to curb drug availability to young people if all community stakeholders are involved.
Ethical and legal considerations
Respect for human subjects is the key ethical concern for researchers. Respondents must be treated as autonomous and with the ability to decide personal goals as well as making informed choices (McWhirter, 2007). Incompetent subjects should only be interviewed after seeking consent from a preferred agent particularly a family member. Respect for autonomy requires a researcher to take the responsibility to guard respondents from exploitation. This aspect helps encourage drug users to undergo screening since they feel that they are not targeted for victimization. Anonymity and confidentiality of the respondents have to be assured. Therefore, it is advisable to inform Taylor about the benefits and risks that may manifest and thus, obtain informed consent. The intervention plan should also create a way to manage conflicts that might arise in the course of the intervention. For example, Taylor is an alcoholic, and he might be involved in illegal activities; thus, it is the role of the researcher to ensure that Taylor is not victimized for criminal activities.
Research with young people experiencing drug abuse incorporates difficult legal issues in the US. There is a legal procedure used to protect youth and the incompetent people used as research subjects. The legal procedures require that research works should only proceed if the rights and wellbeing of the participants are thoroughly considered. Federal regulations require that researchers dealing with young subjects obtain the minor’s assent and permission from an institution or the parents (Pitts, & Shrier, 2014). The law provides that parental permission can be waived but only when the child is asked for competence. However, it becomes a challenge for counselors or psychologists to meet the competing needs to abide by the law and report such cases or concentrate on helping Taylor transform successfully.
Substance use and abuse have been viewed as a vastly growing social challenge among young people. Young people between 13-21 years are the main actors in this anti-social behavior, thus affecting their general development. Ease of accessibility and affordability has been seen as primary factors that keep the youth abusing drugs. Consequently, advocacy programs have developed to rescue the youth who have not begun using drugs and those who are dependent on drugs.
Koehn, C., & Cutcliffe, J. (2012). The Inspiration of Hope in Substance Abuse Counseling. The Journal of Humanistic Counseling, 51(1), 78-98.
McWhirter, J. (2007). At-risk youth. Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.
Pitts, S., & Shrier, L. (2014). Substance Abuse Screening and Brief Intervention for Adolescents in Primary Care. Pediatric Annals, 43(10), 412-412.
Tanner-Smith, E., & Lipsey, M. (2015). Brief Alcohol Interventions for Adolescents and Young Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 51, 1-18.