Human behaivor and the social environment
A teenager is likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol, especially during high school. Some teenagers try it and do not like it, others love it. This love for drugs and alcohol becomes a regular activity, and then a teen may become dependent on the drug or drink, and can progress to addiction. These stages of substance abuse affect one’s relationships, health and ambitions.Families and friends are devastated when their loved one’s resort to drugs and alcohol. Relationships are ruined when someone is addicted to escaping reality by distorting their mind because an addict will steal and lie to get their next high.
It has been found by many researchers that relationships and drug use are related. According to Andreas Schindler, and other researchers, mothers and fathers have asignificant impacton their child’s behavior. There is an excess of parents who are preoccupied and do not have time for their children, and there are others who cannot support them. This leaves the children to have less discipline in their life, making it more likely for them to use substances. There are also parents who are fully supportive and their children still use drugs, but it is less likely. (Schindler, A. 2007: Family)
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found that teens with stronger family ties are at a lower risk to use substances, and have substance-abusing friends. While an adolescent with weak family ties is 20% likely to use marijuana, a teen with strong family ties is only at a 5% risk to try weed. Teens with strong family ties have a very high percentage of excellent relationships with their parents, and spend time with them. Weak family ties show bad relationships with parents, terrible communication, and very little time spent together. (National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia, U. 2010).
Alia Butlera’s findings are in consonance with the previous sources. Teenagers who misuse substances set adverse patterns for younger relatives. When one sibling uses substances, and another does not, they begin to grow apart. A drug abusing teen becomes very stressful for the parent. Parents often blame themselves for their child’s mistakes, creating a whole new problem. (Butler: Parents)
According to the SAMA Foundation (ScienceandManagement of Addictions,) there are copious amounts of negative effects that drugs can have on a developing adolescent brain. There are short and long-term effects of substance abuse. An example of a short-term effect would be impaired judgement (drunk driving,) and can lead to horrific accidents leaving the teen in verypoor health. An example of a long-term effect is that when a still developing teen uses drugs, their progress in maturity slows, and although they get physically older, their brain does not mature at an appropriate ratio. (Weinberger, Elvevag ; Giedd, The Adolescent Brain)
The U.S. Department of Justice, The Nemours Foundation, and The National Institute on Drug Abuse agree that using drugs can have negative effects on one’s relationships. There can be physical violence, which can ruin a relationship in an instant. Also, when a teen becomes dependent on drugs, that teen begins to lie and steal to support his or her habit. Trust is lost, and relationships fade away. (U.S Dept of Justice. Drug abuse impact.)
Looking at this topic from a different perspective, Sandra A. Brown, and others, found that there is a link between parents using alcohol and/or drugs, and their children following in their footsteps. They believe that when seeing their parents use substances, a teen is tremendously more likely to use. Conducting a study on 147 teens along with their families, the results show that when a parent is an abuser of alcohol or drugs, the child is likely to become an abuser as well. Although there are outliers, theconsensuson this matter is that parents have an enormous role in their children’s lives, and their mistakes or successes can be that of their children. (Sandra A Brown, et al, Paternal Psychology.)
Dooley Worth found that people who use drugs, tend to make bad decisions. Worth finds that when a woman is on drugs, she is more vulnerable to participate in sex without a condom. This decision can alter one’s life forever. The woman can become pregnant, or contract sexually transmitted diseases. A decision that is made while high is tremendously more likely to change your goals andambitions. (Dooley Worth, Studies in Family Planning)
Steve Sussman and many of his colleagues researched this topic, and conclude that drugs affect decision making, motivation and skills. Their goal is to prevent the use of drugs in the first place. It is known that once drugs are ingested, inhibitions are lowered, and goals start to fade away. Someone with a very bright future ahead of them, can end up homeless and begging for food, because of one decision they made because of drugs, that led to many other irresponsible decisions. (Steve Sussman, et al, Substance abuse)
According toMedhaTalpade, Diane Lynch, Barbara Lattimore, and Ashlee Graham, drugs affect one’s decision making, especially in teenagers. Teen’s brains are not fully developed, so they tend to rely on their emotions to decide whether something is right or wrong. A teen will do something if they feel it is exciting enough, or pleasurable enough, if they do not have the proper mindset for this situation. Once a teen does a drug or drink, they then decide whether they want to continue this use, and this is where drugs can make or break someone for the rest of their life. (Talpade, M., Lynch, D., Lattimore, B., & Graham, A. 2008: Juvenile Abuse Prevention)
In a study by Andreas Schindler and colleagues, it was found that parents have a remarkable impact on the behavior of their children. When parents are very supportive, the child is less likely to use drugs or act mischievous. However, there are cases where a child who has supportive parents still use drugs. One case would be the life of James McCarrier. His father died when he was two years old, but his mother raised him with a foundation to strive to succeed in everything he attempted. Despite this foundation, James strayed off this path, used drugs, and was arrested on multiple occasions.
At the age of twelve, James started experimenting with marijuana. By the age of fourteen, he was using it multiple times a day. He was involved with the Department of Juvenile Justice for a year and a half, participating in a probation program. While on probation, James began to use synthetic marijuana on a daily basis. This was an alternative to using marijuana and alcohol, and would not appear on drug screens. James became very addicted to “spice” or synthetic marijuana, and eventually was forced to quit using it. Once James graduated probation, he began using marijuana again.
Marijuana use became James’ life. Every dollar earned went to supporting his habit. He sold all his electronics, quit going to school, and began mowing lawns every day to get high. On August 26th, 2012, James was at a house party in Fort Myers, Florida, and got behind the wheel of a car with another party-goer. They were involved in an accident at a speed of seventy miles per hour, and totaled the car into a telephone pole. James was arrested and his license was suspended for a year.
James’ health was deteriorating rapidly from heavy usage of marijuana and alcohol, along with MDMA. His weight was way below average, and his stamina was incredibly low. He did not communicate with his mother or step-father at all, would come home just to sleep and bathe. There wasnotalking or spending time together, and James would steal from them to support his drug habit. James stopped hanging out with his childhood best friends, and began to only spend time with people who supported his drug habit.
There are a few main theories that can be applied to this case study. One of the main theories that could be applied to teenagers with substance addiction is Systems theory.As a social worker looking at systems is critical, what makes up this person’s life. For example, in the case studyJames father had passed away, he was surrounding himself by people that enabledhim.Looking at these systems that make up a person help determine what system of their life needs some improvement.When a teenager experiments with drugs and alcohol, things may be fine for a while. Once experimentation turns into a habit, and it becomes abuse, problems develop. Relationships seem to be the first thing affected. Even with strong family ties, there is no guarantee that a teen will not abuse drugs. (National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia, U. 2010).It is believed that people with addiction problems have a different brain chemistry than a non-addict/alcoholic. The problem with non-addicts and addicts having a relationship, is that someone who has not suffered from the disease, cannot fully understand the problem. This makes it especially difficult when an addict is still active in his or her addiction. Communication is almost impossible, and family ties, no matter how strong, can be destroyed. Trust will be obliterated, and it is very difficult to earn back.
The Looking glass theory also plays a role when it comes tohow clients views themselves. People start to base their self-concepts on what others think of them. This can be problematic for someone such as James in the case study because others are starting to view him as a criminal and someone that abuses drugs only cause further damage.Substance abusers will normally surround themselveswith people who only see them as drug users or a criminal. This can give the person a self- concept that they are no more than a drug useror criminal. As a social worker, there needs to be an understanding of the client’s self-concept and how that has been influence by others around them.
A defense mechanism is an unconscious attempt to adjust to painful conditionssuch as anxiety, anger or guilt.Drugsand alcohol are often used as negativedefense mechanism. Forexample,in the case study James did lose his father and he maybe that is underlying reason that he abuses drugs.Ambitions are incredibly altered when using drugs and alcohol. No matter howbright your future may seem, if you ingest drugs or alcohol into your body, you begin a downward spiral that is very difficult to get out of (Sussman, S. Substance Abuse.) Especially for teenagers, drug use leads to negative decision making. This is because an adolescent brain is not fully developed in the frontal lobe, so a teenager will rely on how they feel about the situation to decide if it is a good idea or not (Talpade, A 2008.).
The social learning theory can be applied to teenagers and substance abuse because they learn how to use drugs and alcohol. Abuse of drugs is a learned a behavior, whether they learn from a parent or from other peers. When working with an adolescent who is struggling with substance abuse look for where they have learned this behavior. If they learn from a parent or someone close that means that there needs to be an intervention within the family in order to peruse the wellbeing of this teenager.
The SAMA Foundation (Weinberger, Elvevag & Giedd) found that drugs have ample amounts of unfavorable side effects on a developing brain. Along with those side effects drugs have on the brain, there are other adverse health effects, such as drinking and driving, intravenous drug use resulting in Hepatitis C, or other diseases. Other bad decisions tend to be made when under the influence of drugs or alcohol, such as sex without using a condom.
Many teenagers have died because of drug overdoses and diseases contracted from sharing needles. Also, lots of teens have contracted sexually transmitted diseases because they participate in unsafe sex. Teenagers in the twenty-first century have a wide variety of drugs to try, including research chemicals such as 2CE and 2CI. These are synthetic psychedelics made in laboratories. Teens take pills and other forms of what they think are these drugs, and couldbetaking aspirin or methamphetamines, the possibilities are endless. Teens are clueless about what these pillscontainand take them.
When looking at the case study of James McCarrier, you can safely assume that because he was seventeen years old, the frontal lobe of his brain was not fully developed. He did not have the proper knowledge to fully assess the situation. To add to that, he was incredibly intoxicated, making the decision-making skills he did have become even lower. He did not think about his goals of graduating high school, or going to college.
Teenagers are not stupid; drug abusers are not stupid. Being a teenager and being a drug abuser can be the hardest parts of someone’s life, and if one happens to become an abuser or addict while being a teenager, this is very likely to be incredibly difficult. Drug abuse alters relationships, whether with family, friends, or even acquaintances. There is also the aspect of health that drug abuse can destroy. Drugs lower your body’s ability to fight off infections and illnesses, and cause your brain to mature more slowly. With the brain maturing more slowly, a drug abuser tends to forget about their goals and ambitions. When caught up in the fast lifestyle of doing drugs, the future seems irrelevant and even unattainable.
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Talpade, M., Lynch, D., Lattimore, B., & Graham, A. (2008). The Juvenile and AdolescentSubstance Abuse Prevention Program: An evaluation. International Journal of BehavioralConsultation and Therapy, 4(4), 304-310.
Weinberger, D.,Elvevag, B., &Giedd, J. (2005).The Adolescent Brain: A Work inProgress.Washington, DC: The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and UnplannedPregnancy.
Zastrow, C., & Kirst-Ashman, K. K. (2016). Understanding human behavior and the socialenvironment. Boston, MA, USA: Cengage Learning.