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Drug Addiction/Substance Abuse


Although there have been substantial progress in developing prevention mechanisms for substance abuse and drug addiction, the vice is still prevalent in the society. Substance abuse and drug addiction is one of the negative social behaviours that impact negatively and cause damage to many people. Many people take drugs because they want to have new experience or change something in their lives. Many people think that taking drugs is a solution or a sign of being mature. They want to have fun because of their curiosity and want to see what it is like. They like the feeling they have from taking the drugs. Many people are just rebellious, just because they do not approve of the laws advice not to take drugs. They will take drugs just because the law prohibits them. Despite many advances from various stakeholders to cub substance abuse and drug addiction, many people today do not understand why people become addicted to drugs as well as the population that is most affected. This essay aims to fill this knowledge gap by providing evidence based literature about drug addiction and substance abuse. It discusses the population that is most affected, how it affects the said population, the stakeholders, social determinants of drug addiction and substance abuse and how to engage the stakeholders in addressing the social determinants.

Drug Addiction/Substance Abuse

The young people are the most affected by drug and substance abuse (Schwinn et al., 2010). Drug addiction and substance abuse among the youths and teenagers include the use of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and misuse of prescription drugs. In most cases, substance abuse among the youth have dangerous effects as it can lead to drug dependence, addiction, disorders and in extreme cases can cause detrimental effects on health every year with underage drinking contributing to death of teens overall as Rowe (2012) adds. Drug addiction, substance abuse and alcohol affects youths considering how they are associated with potential harmful behaviors. Drugs and alcohol abuse influence youths negatively given that they have social and educational consequences which lead to poor performance in academics, poor relationships with friends and colleagues with diminished personal achievements. Besides substance and alcohol abuse is a health issue of concern considering that they the behavior has adverse side effects which contribute to health lifestyle disorders. In particular substance and alcohol abuse among teens is mostly influenced by complex factors with peer pressure being the most significant contributing factor to this behavior. Furthermore, family and influence from close friends contributes a lot to substance and alcohol abuse among youths as well. Family factors like child neglect and abuse, parental marital status, substance use among family members together with family socioeconomic status contributes significantly to alcohol and substances abuse (Davidson & Linnoila, 2013).

Sussman et al., (2012) claim that it is very important establish drug abuse prevention as well as promotional health approaches through literacy as one of the most considerable and effective policy towards avoiding substance abuse among the young people. Most significantly, policy by way of literacy will assists in minimizing the weight of bad behaviours while at the same time help the victims to overcome drug addiction. In Australia research shows that the number of drugs and alcohol abuse among the young people has significantly increased as Sussman et al., (2012) attests. Notably, it is important that when handling drug abuse issues among the young people to incorporate a wide range of literacy training. Here, all stakeholders are required to involve parents so as to encourage family involvement and parents are able to acquire skills to handle such a youth or teenage. Additionally, these parents are able to understand the various appropriate methods of monitoring the teenagers with an aim of early identification of signs in cases of relapses as Vardakou et al., (2011) asserts.

Vardakou et al., (2011) adds that not all programs are valuable to young people since research indicate that different level requires different environments with each having a unique pact relevant to the young people being addressed. Sobell et al., (2013) posits that the stakeholders should programs aimed at educating young people on the dangers of alcohol indulgence and substances abuse while at the same time equip them with positive decision making initiatives. According to Irvine et al., (2011), provision of drug and substance abuse support and counseling systems to the young people is crucial. The goal of this program should focus on achieving total abstinence while at the same time parental and guardian active engagement participation in promoting informed decision making process on drug and alcohol abuse among teenagers. Additionally, the program should allow the use of educative materials, beliefs and thoughts linked to drug and substance as Monti (2012) claims.

Lewis et al., (2014) point that encouraging young people to engage in productive activities is essential. This helps to keep their mind engaged in productive activities in their homes, school and community initiatives. This motivates the young people to find appropriate guidance and to discontinue with drug and substance abuse while still continuing with their daily life normally. Particularly, the approach will help youth to openly explore other ways that will enable them reduce addiction and facilitate personal motivation to other positive lifestyles (Miller et al, 2006). Furthermore a both skill building as well as recovery will offer a platform for teenagers and youth to learn how to abstain from drug and alcohol use. Teenagers will be in a position to identify emotions and negative thinking that can result to drugs and alcohol use in response to anxiety, anger and depression.

Social Determinants

Social influences are central and powerful factors that promote initiation or experimentation of use of substances. Along with exposure of positive expectations and attitudes regarding use of substances, the modelling of substance use behaviour by important others such as older siblings, parents and peers, this is a critical negative social influence. Some off the other powerful negative influences include positive portrayal of substance use and abuse by celebrities in television, movies, cinemas and music videos. Advertisements that contain and communicate positive messages abuse substances such as tobacco and alcohol promote pro-substance use expectances, attitudes, and perceived positive consequences of use that can translate into increase of alcohol use and cigarette smoking behaviour among young people (Cohen et al., 2013).

Individual level factors are one of the common social determinants of substance abuse and drug addiction. Such individual level factors are such as attitudinal, cognitive, pharmacological, personality, developmental, social and biological factors. Cognitive risk factors such as deficiency of knowledge about substances and drugs towards the risk of using and abusing them along with the misconception that substance abuse is a normal practice and that majority of young people engage in it. Psychological traits associated with substance abuse include poor self-esteem, poor behavioural self-control and low assertiveness. Pharmacological factors became increasingly important as a person’s substance abuse increase in quantity and frequency. Drugs of abuse such as morphine, cocaine, nicotine, amphetamine and alcohol have dissimilar pharmacological mechanisms of action. As such, individual social factors are powerful social determinants of substance abuse and drug addiction for the young people (Hughes et al., 2010).

The other social determinant is the family factors. This is associated with social learning processes in modelling behaviour and attitude towards drug addiction and substance abuse. In addition, the role of genetic heritability in development of substance use disorder is a major factor as well. The parenting practices are also major determinants; this is because parenting can impact substance abuse both indirectly and directly by way of establishing precursors of substance use like aggressive behaviour and some other conduct problems as Sussman et al., (2012) states. Specifically, harsh disciplinary practices, low level family bonding, poor parental monitoring, and high levels of conflicts in the family contribute to both externalizing and internalizing behaviours including substance use and abuse. Parenting and family factors can also play a protective and beneficial role in preventing adolescent substance abuse and use. Some examples of protective parenting practices are such as consistent and firm limit setting, open communication patterns, nurturing and careful monitoring (Degenhardt & Hall, 2012).

The other social determinants are community and school factors. The degree of bonding to conventional institutions and environmental factors are associated with substance use and abuse among them young people and specifically the teenagers. Students who do not engage in school fail to develop or maintain relationship with their teachers, the students who fail academically are the most likely to engage in substance use. Equally, young people feel disconnected, detached and disengaged from the society and in their community. This makes them to feel unsafe in their neighborhood. This is not only associated with higher substance abuse but it also creates higher levels of community disorganization. Young people involved in active community institutions such as church and school are less likely to engage in substance abuse and likely drug addiction. Communities and schools can play a protective role by taking firm and active steps in engaging young people for the purpose of avoiding substance abuse and the consequent drug addiction (Whiteford et al., 2013).


One of the most influential stakeholders in addressing the societal determinants of health problems for the young people is the media. It is very important to carry out mass media campaigns targeted to the youth. The mass media campaigns would include television ads web technology, print materials and social media like twitter, Facebook, instagram, YouTube. Mass media campaigns wound increase awareness and understanding of the negative consequences of substance abuse and drug addiction. The parents and teachers have a big role to play in addressing the social determinants to substance abuse and drug addiction. Teachers in all learning institutions should integrate drug addiction and substance abuse as compulsory topics and course. This would give them an opportunity to educate young people about the social determinants (Marlatt et al., 2011). Moreover, they should have wide range of programs targeted to the young people to increase their awareness. Learning institutions should bring in talk sessions where survivors and young people who have been rehabilitated come in to talk of the bad experience of drug addiction. This would enhance their teaching about substance about substance abuse (Galante et al., 2014).

On the same note, parents should be at the forefront to address the social determinants of substance abuse and drug addiction. It is imperative to think critically about putting in place substance use prevention programs based on workability. The primary objective is to help young people avoid the initiation of substance use and to avoid drug addiction to those who have started already. Effective program to engage the young people would contribute significantly to positive engagement to the society at large (Greenfield et al., 2010).

Other stakeholders are the young people themselves. Equipping them with social resistance skills would help them to avoid substance abuse. The skills includes interventions that are designed with the aim of increasing their awareness of the numerous social influences that support substance abuse and teaching them specific skills for effectively resisting both medial and peer pressure to engage is substance abuse. As such, this involves coming up with resistance skills training programs to teach the young people how to identify situations where they are expected to experience peer pressure to drink, smoke or use drugs. In learning institutions, students are trained how to effectively respond to direct pressure to involve in substance abuse by knowing what to say (refusal message) as well as how to deliver what they say in the most effective way possible. These skills increase awareness in young people and also equip them with techniques to avoid and respond to such situations involving substance abuse and use of drugs (Lewis et al., 2014).


Effective healthy decision making process coupled with strong literacy skills by health professionals is important towards promoting lifestyle choices among young people enabling them manage their personal health life. In spite of presence of adequate and multifaceted health care systems across Australia, the significant increase in drug and alcohol use among teenagers has resulted to increased health issues that have led to chronic diseases. Nurses together with other health practitioners are required to develop new approaches as a way of influencing behavior change among young people in relation to drugs as well as alcohol abuse as a way of promoting health literacy. Lack of proper mechanisms that promote healthy literacy competencies among teenagers will significantly result to unhealthy choices among majority of young people. Such choices have led to poorer health coupled with misinformed decision making process. Finally, it is important to put into operation effective anti-drug approaches focusing on areas of greatest prioritization.


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