Essay: substance abuse among adolescents

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  • substance abuse among adolescents
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This assignment will foster the nature of substance abuse among adolescents.
It will provide the reader with information on how the intervention program will be applied and what to include in the intervention program as well as how it will be conducted. It will focus on the developmental stage of adolescents and why such an intervention is applicable to them. This assignment will also focus on the South African context and consider the factors that intervene with drug use.
This assignment will aim to provide the reader with a good understanding on drug use and how an intervention plan will be affective. The aim is also to provide an adequate intervention that can be applied to the adolescence that attends the school. It will have emphasis on dealing emotional problems effectively, what acceptable behaviour is and in essence taking responsibility for one’s actions (James, 2008).
This will then follow a literature review where previous methods will be discussed and the effectiveness of these interventions. This will also include how to implement these techniques. This will then be followed by the rational where the problem is identified and how one can go about solving these problems. The program will then be discussed and how it can be applied and implemented based on what has been discussed within the literature review. This will then be followed by the discussion of possible limitations as well as how ethics will apply within a school context.
1. Literature review:
This part of the assignment will discuss the nature of drugs, what affects it has on the physical body and what factors places in adolescence at risk for using psychoactive drugs.
Rendering to Escand??n and G??lvez (2006), mentioned the primary process of drug addiction as a slow suicide. It was described that one’s first experiment of a drug is usually unpleasant, the reason why individuals will continue using a drug despite this feeling of unpleasantness is because of the psychological affect they receive when consuming a drug. This in essence means that people foster a drug since it has a psychological effect and it makes them feel good and when being absent of the drug it makes them feel bad (Escand??n & G??lvez, 2006).
Tolerance is described by Escand??n and G??lvez (2006), as the body’s physical dependence to maintain equilibrium between biochemical within the body. Also it has been noted that drug dependence is worldwide problem. There seems to be an increase with drug use especially amongst the youth. It has also been noted that in western countries teenagers. It was also noted that there is a strong need for conveying a clear cut message to the youth that the use of drugs are hazardous, illegitimate as well as unfitting (Escand??n & G??lvez, 2006).
When considering Africa in general there seems to be an increase in the use of cannabis and seems to be noticeable. Furthermore when considering the trafficking of drugs Africa in general seems that Ghana and Kenya is the route reserved for trading amongst European, North American, Asian countries and lastly, South Africa where African countries export heroin and cocaine to dealers (Escand??n & G??lvez, 2006).
Rendering to Visser (2007), one of the leading social problems South Africa is presently facing is that of the usage of drugs. In specific reference to alcohol and tobacco use. Visser (2007), also argues if one wants to review drug use one also needs to take into consideration the culture values as well as customs into account. In the South African context the reason given for drug use among the youth has been pointed to mental illness as well as low socio-economic status that places stress as a consequence of having to cope with less resources. It was also mentioned that drugs tend to hinder with cognitive functioning, professional as well as social functioning of an individual and behaviour tends to be harmful concerning to the individual themselves and towards others (Visser, 2007).
When considering the development of adolescents it is marked by the maturation of childhood to adulthood (Sadock, Sadock & Ruiz, 2015). In this period adolescents tend to develop deeper peer relationships as well as pursue autonomy in decision making and subsequently increase intellectually and social interaction (Sadock, Sadock & Ruiz., 2015). Rendering to Santrock (2011), adolescent in essence undergoes physical and hormonal changes. These changes tend to be a sudden event where adolescents experience sudden weight gain and height (Santrock, 2011). Adolescents turn to alcohol and substances that are illegal to fit in with peers (Sadock et al., 2015).
Physical Development:
Regarding the brain development that happens at puberty research has evidently shown that there are changes in the corpus callosum where it thickens and the prefrontal cortex does not fully mature until the age of eighteen and twenty five (Santrock, 2011). There also seems to be maturation in the amygdala but this tends to be earlier than the prefrontal cortex. The changes detected in adolescents also seem to be an emerging field to determine the connection between the brain and socio-emotional processes. When considering the maturation of the physical body there seems to be an increase in sexual tendencies because of hormones (Santrock, 2011).
There was an also a study conducted in the use of drugs amongst teenagers and a common drug found among the adolescents are the use of alcohol. There seems to be a strong correlation between drug use and parents (Santrock, 2011). Rendering to Santrock (2011), parents that tend to monitor teenage behaviour has been linked to lower rates of problem behaviours such as substance abuse, also support and social networks that do not tend to use substances have also been linked to lower use of substances (Santrock, 2011).
Education and providing information on drug use has also been seen as a substitute for the prevention of drug use (Santrock, 2011). Early interventions in school programs and early educational accomplishments have proved to be effective in reducing the risk of adolescents using substances (Santrock, 2011). According to Visser (2007), the reason as to why young people use drugs is for the common reason of experimenting and being adventurous exploratory with fellow peers (Visser, 2007).
In the South African context with connection to adolescents that has been marked for behaviour that tends to be more autonomous can be linked to that of the use or experimentation of drugs, since males in specific wants to prove their independence to adults (Visser, 2007). Subsequently referring to the social relationships that tend to deepen during adolescents is also a common reason for the use of drugs, since it can provide adolescents with more courage to engage in social relationships. Drugs also tend to provide an escape of negative feelings as mentioned earlier as well as reality and in essence can be seen as a way to deal with problems such as stress within households or school (Visser, 2007).
Rendering to Visser (2007), another reason as to why drugs are used among the adolescents in a South African context is in essence also because adolescents do not experience closeness to families and seek for acceptance amongst their peers. It was also verified in studies conducted that half of the individuals that participated and found to be dependent on substances had come out of divorced families or unhappy households (Visser, 2007). According to Santrock (2011), for adolescents cliques and crowds develop as more significant and they tend to move away from parents in search of independence (Santrock, 2011).
Santrock (2011), discussed that adolescents tend to have interrelation problems that also contribute to the use of drugs. Problems that have been identified are drug use, criminal behaviour, problems that are sexual and lastly school problems. These four problems tend to be interrelated and seem to bidirectional. This can be understood in terms of having an early sexual experience and falling pregnant then drop out of school and use cigarettes or alcohol to cope and to reduce stress (Santrock, 2011).
2. Rational:
This part of the assignment will rationalize why there is an intervention needed within the South African schools in order to reduce substance abuse amongst adolescents. It will link to what has been stated within the literature review in order to give the argument support based on what has been already been studied.
In the South African context one will find rehab centres and local organisations that provide support and assistance to people who are addicted to substances. It will be of the upmost important to bring this information to the attention of the children so they know who to turn to or advice people or themselves to the correct institutions and organisations to receive help. One of these local organisations can be found in the community of Eersterus, the organisation that operates within this community is the Eersterus Local Drug Action Committee (Makhetha, 2015).
The intervention program will make use of psycho-education and group therapy for the school. The intervention will also discuss parental issues since adolescents tend to also shy away from households and parents (Sadock, Sadock & Ruiz., 2015). Applying this in a South African context (Visser, 2007), adolescents see it as an escape from households and dealing with stress since they have to make the most of little resources (Visser, 2007).
As discussed by Sadock, Sadock and Ruiz (2015), adolescents must form their own identity as explained by Erickson’s stage of identity. Adolescents become separated from parents as a cause of identity internalization (Sadock, Sadock & Ruiz., 2015). Adolescents need to know that parents play a role in the recovery as well as the prevention of substance use as mentioned by Santrock (2011), that parents who are involved and monitor their children has lower rates of behavioural problems (Santrock, 2011).
This intervention will also be focussed on the grade six to matric since early intervention seems to be a good predictor from staying absent of substance use, especially in schools (Santrock, 2011). The children will also be encouraged to raise awareness in their families and to be disciples of spreading the psycho-education that they were taught at school. Rendering to Sauer (2009), self-acceptance and self-love are all connected to self-worth since these also fit into the concept of identity it will most likely be effective to discuss this concepts (Sauer, 2008). According to James (2008) learning to know who they are so that in essence they know how to develop a healthy identity and not seek identity with erroneous friends and subsequently to how to accept responsibility for the choices they makes (James, 2008).
According to Visser (2007), psychoactive drugs participate in the role of identity formation and also in a South African perspective drugs seem to influence self-esteem with heightening it although this affect is not long lasting (Visser, 2007).
3. Intervention Program:
Before going into the discussion of the program with regards to identifying the problem and the goals and the workshop and subsequently the professional ethical considerations that needs to be taken into account will be discussed.
Identification of problem: This intervention will be based on secondary level since it will aim to reduce the existing problem that has been identified for drug use amongst teens with regards to substance abuse. It will aim to have a bidirectional effect within the ecological system. In essence the intervention will be based on the meso-system where childhood values are taught within the school context and adjustment well to these values (Duncan, Naidoo & Roos, 2013). The goal will be tried to achieve through the intervention is the behavioural changes of the adolescents within the school. The intervention should result in a decline of substance use amongst teenagers within the school (Duncan,Naidoo & Roos, 2013).
Assess the level of the problem and goal: With regards to the behavioural surveys the questionnaire (appendices) will try and determine what the attitudes are of the parents to see to what extent they intervene within their adolescent’s behaviour since a study confirmed that parents seem to be clueless with regards to their adolescents drug and alcohol use at parties (Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly, 2006). The goal of the problem identified is to make teenagers aware and to reduce the drug use behaviour in order to promote more healthy lifestyles regarding self-regulation and monitoring. Previous interventions will need to be reviewed in order to determine what has been proved to be successful and what not. Previous pilot studies can give a good indication of what has been proved to work and where improvement is needed (Duncan, Naidoo & Roos, 2013).
Describing the group that is being targeted: this includes the young adolescents in grade eight to matric. It will include the whole school so that the impact can be long term and that uniformity can be achieved as well as conformity (Duncan, Naidoo & Roos, 2013).
Identifying how you will obtain clients inputs: There will be a parents evening at the school where relevant information will be gathered to ensure that there is active participation as well as awareness from the parents. This will hope to achieve to create awareness amongst parents and adolescents and obtaining collaboration in participating. This will be done so that the the risk factors can be addressed with regards to divorced families, how the socio-economic status plays a role (Visser, 2007) and lastly the development of adolescents that fosters a nature of independence and tries to determine their identities (Santrock, 2011).
The intervention:
The intervention will be based on workshops that will take place at the school itself. The intervention will be taking off during the week days in the evenings. The grade 8 will be going on Monday nights, grade 9 on Tuesdays, grade 10 on Wednesdays, grade 11 will be on Thursday and Fridays will be the matrix’s. A card will be given at the end of the sessions which the school individuals will receive after they have attended the meetings.
This will then later be collected by the teachers to establish who was there and who has not. The program will also reward the participants that collect all the cards that have been handed out after each session. Lastly, the parents evening will take off before the program takes off and at the closing evening where all the school youngsters will be attending with them on the sports field.
This workshop will aim to take a period of a month where all the different grades will have to attend 4 meetings over the course of the month. There will be a theme each week. The first week will aim to create awareness about the negative effects of drug-use with specific reference to smoking, alcohol and cannabis on the physical body (Appendices workshop 1). This will in essence describe all the physiological effects of smoking, alcohol and marijuana since adolescents tend to experiment with these (Sadock, Sadock & Ruiz, 2015), on the body and why it should not be used amongst teenagers since they are in essence still in the developing stage and moving towards emotional maturation (American Psychological Association, 2002).
Workshop 2 (Appendices), will be discussing on the types of drugs available and the effects it will have in the long-term. According to the Web MD (2015), the following drugs will be discussed in order to say what they do and what their effects are: Tabaco is known for improving vigilance as well as performance, although the long-term effects are lung cancer, heart attacks and subsequently withdrawal will result in anxiety and depression it is also the etiology of a million deaths each year. Alcohol is a depressant and it declines a person’s ability to control coordination and it may lead an individual to alcoholism (WebMD, 2015).
Within this workshop it will discuss marijuana that causes irritation in the lungs and it contains high levels of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Smoking marijuana will have an effect of pleasure as well as impairment in both coordination and memory. Ecstasy has an effect on energy levels and in essence on mood although the side effects of ecstasy are that it can cause impairment in regulating the body’s temperature as well as emotions (WebMD, 2015). The risk of HIV and AIDS will also be discussed since people who abuse substances have a risk of obtaining HIV and AIDS due to needle sharing and engaging in risky sexual behaviour (Visser, 2007).
Workshop 3 (Appendices), will discuss the cycle of dependents and how genetics play a role since there was a gene found to be linked to alcoholics (Goldberg, 2012), also the family structure such as divorce and unhappy households or families (Visser, 2007). This workshop will also discuss the matters of bad influences such as erroneous friends and notably why it is important to build a good sense of self that has been discussed in the rational according to Sauer (2009).
Friendships seem to play an important part in adolescent’s lives and it is important to address friendships and groups. According to Morrison and Bennett (2012), social learning experience is one of the reasons for substance abuse and this learned behaviour is reinforced through affects that are pleasurable (Morrison & Bennett, 2012), peer influence are powerful in the engagement of high-risk behaviours (Sadock, Sadock & Ruiz, 2015). According to Baron and Branscombe (2012), describes good friendships as a friendship that is based on conjoint emotional support and spending time together on a regular basis (Baron & Branscombe, 2012).
The self is seen as a very important part of self-efficacy. The importance of self-efficacy as discussed by Harpine (2008), is different to that of self-esteem. Self-efficacy is seen as the key to prevent addictive and risky behaviour it also allows for constant and effective application of knowledge. Self-efficacy is also responsible for the development of social and morals. The way in which self-efficacy can be established in learning within this intervention is to tell the children that they are capable of in their abilities to say yes or no and if it happens that they have failed that they should rely on their abilities to succeed (Harpine, 2008).
The 4th workshop will be based on family and community support (Goldberg, 2012), this is also why the parents will be encouraged to join the last session with their children. This is seen as an important part of the program since accountability and support plays an important part in overcoming addiction as well as preventing it. Effective treatments will also be discussed with regards to student assistant programs (SAP), which is dependent on employees and educators (Visser, 2007). Law matters will also be discussed in order for the young adolescents to understand that is illegal to use substances in South Africa as according to the Act no. 75 where use, possession and dealing with drugs are illegal (My LexisNexis, 1996).
According to Visser (2007), community norms that also links with self-efficacy, will also be discussed since this can be a challenge to what seems to be acceptable within the community. The information provided within the workshops is seen as an important step to helping young adolescents to resist the use of substances. The parents are involved within this process since the strategy is based on values and norms of parents and community values in order to manage the problem and to make to make the prevention strategy planned more sustainable (Visser, 2007).
4. Evaluation:
This part of the assignment will reflect the strengths, weaknesses as well as the ethics that should be considered with regards to the intervention strategy. The evaluation will rely on a formative evaluation that entails monitoring the intervention as it is implemented and summative evaluation that entails the outcomes of the intervention (Duncan, Bowman & Roos, 2013).
With regards to the intervention program it is short term intervention that aims to include all important aspects of substance use. Drug trafficking was left out because this intervention does not want to provide the adolescents ways to access substances since one of the principles are that the psychologist should counter any unjust practices (Duncan, Naidoo & Roos, 2014). The main focus is on the effects on the body, what the effects of drug use are short-term and long-term, what causes substance use and how the cycle works and lastly why a supportive environment is needed.
4.1 Strengths:
One of the strengths that this strategy has is that it includes the entire school and it also includes the parents, since it is important to monitor the behaviour of their children and in essence to help in the prevention of substance use (Santrock, 2011). It is also important since parents should be made aware of what their children are up to and they should be psycho-educated on why social support is important and provide an environment where it can be fostered (Visser, 2007).
This intervention also aims to empower the children to make the right decisions and enable them too notably take control of their own lives as well as responsibility (Visser, 2007). This intervention also aims to create critical awareness that will enable the people to be aware of their decisions and playing an active role in the transformation of the society (Visser, 2007). According to Swanepoel and De Beer (2014), simplicity is key and the simpler the easier long-lasting results are achieved (Swanepoel & De Beer, 2014).
4.2 Weaknesses:
One of the main possible weaknesses would be to obtain full participation within the school in specific reference to the learners. This is an important part of the intervention since there will not be a desired effect if there is a lack of participation and support (Visser, 2007). Also according to Visser (2007), the reason why projects fail is due to time constraints and to budget and both of this play a role in this intervention. It will be important to keep track of these two in the formative assessment so that it can be prevented if it does turn out to be a problem (Visser, 2007).
If parents do not give informed consent it can be problematic since this is one of the ethical codes that need to be adhering to with regards to working with minors (Cormier & Hackney, 2012). The psychologist presenting the psycho-educational programs should also be aware of language since jargon will result in people being excluded and reinforce the idea of power and class distinction (Longhurst, Smith, Bagnall, Crawford & Ogborn., 2008). This forms part of summative evaluation since effectiveness can only be determined afterwards and a decline is supposed to be seen within the adolescents with regards to substance abuse behaviour (Duncan, Naidoo & Ruiz, 2015).
The presentations should be short and contain the main information that needs to be addressed and should not exceed over an hour per workshop. As part of being an adolescent, they tend to belief in the term called omnipotent belief. This in essence means that adolescents tend to think that they are immune to any danger when confronted with risks that are logic (Sadock, Sadock & Ruiz, 2015). Confidentiality does not apply and it may result in people not wanting to participate within the workshops (Cormier & Hackney, 2012). This forms part of the formative evaluation to determine whether strategies can be changed to obtain cooperation if it is lacking during the intervention (Duncan, Naidoo & Ruiz, 2015).
4.3 Ethics:
According to Cormier and Hackney (2012), with regards to working with children consent forms needs to be obtained from parents. This is of up most importance this is why this intervention makes use of consent forms (see appendices) (Cormier &Hackney, 2012). Confidentiality is not applicable and there is no sense of anonymity where individuals are unknown, since the whole school is involved within the workshops. One of the ethical considerations is confidentiality but does not apply within the context of this intervention (Cormier & Hackney, 2012).
One of the most important ethical principles will be not to do harm and should benefit the people who participate within the study (Duncan, Naidoo & Ruiz, 2015). It should aim to empower and not to create dependence (Swanepoel & De Beer, 2014). A relationship of trust should be endeavoured and not betray trust that has been gained. The material presented should be accurate and truthful (Duncan, Naidoo & Ruiz, 2015).
This assignment fostered the nature of discussing a possible intervention that can be used within a school context to target the prevention of substance abuse. This assignment discussed in the literature review what the effects of drug abuse are on the body and that it is considered to be a worldwide problem and where drug trafficking can be located. It also discussed with specific reference within the South African context that socio-economic factors can contribute to the abuse of substances since divorce and low income status can contribute to stress being experienced.
Physical development has also been discussed where hormonal changes are occurring and that there is an increased need in autonomy and friendships and gaining a good self-esteem. Drugs have been discussed as it is a way of escaping negative emotions. Within the rational parenting was the main focus and the importance parents can play within the prevention of drug use amongst their adolescents and that it is important to monitor children since it seems to result in less behavioural problems.
The importance of self-efficacy was discussed and how it can be achieved through a person believing they can succeed. The importance of good support groups has been discussed and that one should avoid erroneous friends. The intervention was based on workshops that will take off at the school itself after hours and it is only a month where each age group will get an opportunity to engage with the material presented. The intervention works according to four workshop themes that will be discussed over a period of four weeks. This in essence will only provide four workshops for each grade. The parents are included before and after the intervention.
Support is definitely stressed within this intervention. Lastly, this assignment discussed the evaluation of the program where the strengths have been identified along with the weaknesses and the ethics that needs to be considered with regards to the intervention. The reader should have a clear understanding what the workshops will be covering and all the materials that is going to be used can be found within the appendices.

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