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Population At Risk Essay

4146 words - 17 pages

Population at Risk

This research paper will address and discuss the sensitive topic of substance use and abuse within the adolescent population in America. When one thinks of a sensitive population, there are very few populations that are as sensitive as children. Children and adolescents are extremely impressionable, and when substance abuse is added to the equation, the result becomes a mental health and legal issue involving a minor. While being extremely impressionable, peer-pressure among adolescents cannot be thought of as the only reason adolescents use and abuse substances. There are biological and genetic issues that need to be ...view middle of the document...

The father role is a key factor in whether or not an adolescent will decide to use or not use substances (Snell, 2014).
Adolescence is a time that a child is transitioning into their own person. It can be a time where the adolescent begins to explore themselves and the environment around them, subsequently becoming a time to test the surrounding environment. By doing so, the adolescent may begin to experiment in new experiences due to the exploratory system within becoming highly activated (Schindler, 2007). The activation of the exploratory system will lead the adolescents to experiment, and the experimentation is not always one of a positive influence. In the United States 65.2% of high school seniors reported experimentation with alcohol, 38.3% reported experimentation with illicit drugs, and 34.8% reported experimentation with marijuana within the last year (NIDA, 2011).
While this may seem disconcerting for many, experimentation alone is not a predictive factor of future substance abuse (Terrion, 2015). In fact, this experimentation can be seen a normal behavior in adolescents between middle school and early high school age (AACAP, 2011). Experimentation, while not considered problematic by some, can lead some adolescents to more problematic issues, such as substance abuse and substance dependence. Substance abuse includes maladaptive patterns of use and clinically significant levels of impairment or even distress. Substance dependence is a more serious issue that can lead to a diagnosis of substance use disorder which must meet 11 different criteria (APA, DSM-5, 2014).
There are several other factors that may contribute to an adolescents desire to experiment with substances, other than the activation of the exploratory system. As stated earlier, environment can play another huge factor. Bullying is one factor that needs to be closely monitored and considered. In recent studies on bullying, both physical and cyber, could positively predict adolescent substance use (Litwiller, 2013). A close and deep look at this correlation should be considered as bullying can predict substance use, and the combination of the two can positively predict suicidal behaviors (Klomek, 2010). While suicide is not the main topic of this research, it is something that must be said and considered due to the real factors and dangers associated with substance use and abuse.
Another factor that can contribute to an increased chance of substance use is commonly known as burnout. This is more specifically defined as the combination of exhaustion, a cynical attitude specifically directed at the purpose of school, and a lack of personal accomplishment (Walburg,2015). Burnout, in the past, had been thought of as an adult becoming overwhelmed or feeling overwhelmed with the amount of work. In more recent years it has been used to describe the absence of purpose one feels for school, primarily being looked at in adolescents in secondary and high schools...

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