Substance abuse has been a significant problem for adolescents in recent years, prompting many community programs for awareness, prevention, and treatment. In a recent survey of nearly 50,000 U.S. students, nearly 50% of high school seniors and 20% of eighth graders reported having used marijuana within the past year (Feldman, 2008). Outside of the criminal activity involved with underage tobacco and alcohol use and illicit and prescription drug use, parents have to worry about the possibility of addiction, with its accompanying academic, physical, social, and emotional consequences. Even worse, the poorer judgment skills of adolescents puts them at higher risk for overdose when abusing substances, which could cause serious health damage and even death. Current research and practice focuses on prevention, including risk factors, consequences of abuse, and effective treatment. The majority of this research, however, finds significant differences in ethnic groups, revealing the need for differentiation between Caucasian, Hispanic, and African-American adolescents in these areas. Hispanic adolescents, for example, use drugs at much higher rates than Caucasians and African Americans, especially when it comes to alcohol, crack, heroin, and Rohypnol.
[...] Social capital is specifically associated with decreased rates of binge drinking and alcohol abuse among college students (Winstanley et al, 2007). Another risk factor for substance use is the amount of spending money an adolescent has available per week. A study of adolescents in Ontario, Canada, revealed that experimental smoking, current smoking, and daily consumption of cigarettes were all positively correlated with spending money availability. Adolescents with less than $10 to spend per week were much less likely to experiment with or regularly smoke. [...]
[...] The effects of adolescent substance abuse on their parents obviously include increased amounts of stress, and financial burdens that come from accidents, and medical or psychological treatment. The exact psychological effects have been studied, and parents seem to have experiences in eight different categories: confirming suspicions; struggling to set limits; dealing with the consequences; living with the blame and the shame; trying to keep the child safe; grieving the child that was; living with the guilt; and, choosing self-preservation. Parents interviewed emphasized the pain associated with first discovering the problem, and the number of consequences they encountered, including dealing with law enforcement, and even being left with the responsibility of raising the children of their substance-abusing adolescents. [...]
[...] A study of marijuana use among Caucasian and African American 20-year-olds found that in groups of mid-onset use of marijuana (8th or 9th grade), African Americans continued to use the substance at a much higher rate at the time of the study. This was compared to early onset groups (7th grade) and late onset groups (10th grade or later) (Brown et al, 2004). Parental communications about the dangers of substance abuse are consistent in both groups, so one can conclude that this does not affect this particular group of adolescents. [...]
[...] More research on Caucasian adolescent populations would also be helpful, especially in the areas of socioeconomic status, family history, peer influence, and mental health. Although the Caucasian population has traditionally been the most frequent focus of research, the presence of ever-changing demographics in this country creates a need to keep up with changing attitudes and environments. Research studies could be duplicated exactly and probably come up with different results, as the cultural climate of the country continues to change and evolve. [...]
[...] With continued research in the specific area of adolescent drug use among different ethnic groups, and adolescent counseling methods in general, and especially prevention, this problem could be reduced, and perhaps the research could branch into other problem areas, prompting progress for other populations with other problems. References Brown, T. F. (2004). Comparing the Developmental Trajectories of Marijuana Use of African American and Caucasian Adolescents: Patterns, antecedents, and consequences. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology , 47-56. Curran, P. S. (1997). The Relation Between Adolescent Alcohol Use and Peer Alcohol Use: A longitudinal random coefficients model. [...]
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