Drug abuse and alcoholism in United States has increased rapidly over the past decade. Teenage drinking in United States is growing very fast. Research has shown that teenagers aged 12-20 years old consume 11% of liquor in America. “Youth risk behaviour survey” carried out in 2009 showed that 42% had some alcohol drink in the past one month, and 24% binge drank (http://www.cdc.gov). These statistics reveals how important problem of underage drinking is in United States. This paper discusses the effects of drug abuse and alcoholism among teens and the different available treatment methods, particularly 12-step program. One would ask why special focus on 12-step program. It is because it is a low cost therapy as compared to other treatment methods.
Psychosocial description of the population
Teenage is the age between puberty and maturity, and is characterized by psychological human development and physical changes. At this stage, one’s thought become more abstract and egoistic thoughts decline. A person starts reasoning at a broader perspective, and develops cognitive skills that enable coordination and control of one’s thoughts and behavior. It is known that ideas, concepts and thoughts developed at this stage shapes a person’s future life and hence influencing personality and character formation.
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During teenage, the adolescents want to develop individual identity. They want to feel important in their peer groups. Identity development can be understood in three different approaches one being self-concept approach. This approach argues that a teen moves from defining themselves with the physical trait as in the case of children, to defining themselves based on their thoughts, values, and opinions. They are able to conceptualize their ideal self and strife to move from their actual self to their ideal self. Environmental factors such as media play a major role shaping the thoughts, concepts, and ideas of teens. Access to media such as televisions, computers, mobile phones etc. has increased over the past decade. Consequently, there is increased number of teens accessing the media. According to recent research (Amanda et al), more than 90% of adolescents in America use internet sometimes. Research has also shown that teens who watch beer advertisements are likely to start drinking. This is because alcohol advertisements are appealing and presents alcohol drinking as a heroic act. Consequently, some teens think that people who drink alcohol have a higher social status than those who do not.
Research has shown that teens that start drinking alcohol before the age of 15 are five times more likely to develop alcoholism later in life than those who start at or after 21 years of age. Teenage drinking impacts on social, spiritual, and financial wellbeing of a family. It leads to deterioration of school performance and hence limited opportunities in future.
Teenage drinking has numerous social impacts such as fighting, social withdrawal, unprotected sex, sexual and physical assault, and alcohol related accidents among others. Binge drinking especially can lead to social withdrawal as most of the time is spent in drinking sprees. As a result, the teen’s involvement in helpful youth activities declines significantly. Fighting can cause injuries to self and to others sometimes leading to homicide. The family institution bears the greatest burden of teenage drinking. It affects the family’s finances, and makes a toll on family members’ emotional wellbeing. Substance abuse treatment is expensive, and the family plays an important role in the recovery.
Review of treatment methods
There are several substance abuse treatment programs such as residential programs, partial hospitalization, inpatient treatment, 12-step program, and pharmacological treatment. Pharmacological treatments of substance use involve the use of medication. There is strong empirical evidence of their efficacy especially pertaining alcohol and opioid medications. However, patient assessment is important before detoxification to determine whether they need monitoring to withdraw safely or not. This is because; withdrawal can be so severe that it leads to hallucinations or convulsions. If a patient developed convulsions before, he requires medical supervision in order to detoxify safely. Despite its efficacy, this treatment method is not commonly used United States.
Inpatient treatment provides alcoholics and drug abusers with detoxification and rehabilitative services within specialized units in a hospital. This treatment program is commonly used in adolescents, and people with mental disorders and serious medical conditions. In adolescents, it enables full assessment of mental disorders and substance abuse. Partial hospitalization program is whereby a person attends treatment clinics but lives at home. It takes 4-8 hours of treatment per day. It is similar to family oriented treatment. Desired results are best achieved when the person has supportive home environment, and stable. An example of Family oriented treatment is community reinforcement and family therapy (CRAFT). An important family approach involves unmotivated clients into treatment and provides a unique way of incorporating a client’s life into a more coherent support network that can produce and maintain changes in substance use.
Twelve –step program is still the commonest treatment program in United States because it is structured, low cost and it is widely available (Rotgers and Walters, 2012). Researches such as project “MATCH” has provided empirical evidence on the efficacy of the 12-step therapy in reducing drug abuse and drinking (Lowinson et al, 2005). Alcoholic Anonymous founded the 12 steps program. Its advantage in treatment of teenage drinking over other programs is that it provides them with a life-long program that helps them uphold their sobriety and attain a healthy and balanced spiritual and emotional life. This program cooperates with other program involved in treatment of alcoholism or drug abuse to fight any affinity to isolation as well as places, people and things that may cause relapse. However, it faces a lot of prejudice with many people associating it with hard-core drug addicts.
The first step in this program is for a person to realize that they have a problem. Acceptance is an important step towards recovery. An alcoholic or a drug addict who is still in denial will lack the commitment to go through treatment. Acceptance comes about when a person understands the problems in their lives caused by alcohol. It is also important for people to admit that they powerless over alcohol and no longer able to manage their lives. This should not be a mere statement but a deeply felt and owned resolve.
Lack of understanding of what alcoholism is hinders acceptance. Many alcoholics who should seek help do not do so because of misconceptions of what alcoholism is. Some think alcoholics are those that cannot function well without taking a drink or maybe those that drink at work. They do not know that the things that happen after drinking define alcoholism. For example, verbal fights that cause damaged relationships, drunk driving, blacking out, physical aggression, are a sign of alcoholism. If people exhibiting such behaviour do not stop, extreme consequences of alcoholism catch up with them.
The second step to recovery is the belief in greater power to restore sanity. The greatest struggle for any drug addict is maintaining sobriety to prevent relapse. Alcoholics Anonymous discovered that the willingness to break from any kind of addiction is not enough to stop an addict or an alcoholic another drink. Therefore, believe in God as one understands him is the foundation of 12 steps program. It is not a requirement that one should be of a particular religion. It is encouraged that one forgets this step until ready for it rather than relinquishing the hope of recovery.
The third step involves surrendering the one’s life and will to the course of recovery. It is a step of faith in God as is understood by the person. Many people struggle with this step for many years, but because of their willingness, they manage to continue with the recovery process. To some extent, it provides an answer to the emptiness experienced by drug abusers and alcoholics.
Alcoholics and drug abusers often blame their, friends, family, and colleagues at work for their predicaments. They will rarely accept that they are their own enemies. Therefore, the fourth step is making an honest and fearless inventory of one’s life. This does not mean blaming oneself for any actions but facing the reality of ones character without excuses. After taking life inventory, a decision on the kind of person to be from then onwards is important.
Drinking causes physical and emotional harm to themselves and other people. After taking inventory of one’s life in step four, it is crucial to take the next step of admitting wrongs to God, self and other people. Sharing experiences with other recovering alcoholics is one way of admitting wrongs. This step helps to acquire freedom from guilt they lived with as alcoholics. Shame and guilt stand in the way of recovery and if not dealt with, a recovering alcoholic can easily fall back into drinking.
Certain behaviour defects are common in alcoholics. For example, complaining, blaming others for things happening in their lives, and selfishness to mention a few. As they regain soberness and develop a sense of responsibility, such behaviours become unacceptable. Despite the awareness, it is difficult to rid the old character by themselves. Step 6 prepares teenage alcoholics for removal of these character defects in step seven. It is in step seven that in humility, they ask God to rid their shortcomings and get ready for new and positive life.
Step 8 involves clearing the past in order to embrace a new way of life. A person makes a list of all people hurt while in active alcoholism or drug addiction with the view of amending to them. However, it might not be possible to amend to all. Amendment may involve such gestures as returning stolen goods, restoring broken relationships with parents and friends among others. It is a sign of giving up on the past living. Ninth step is a continuation of the process of clearing one’s past. This is the actual step of making amends. However, one should be cautious not make amends that might punish because of a feeling of guilt. Amends may vary from a humble apology to a debt payment plan.
Prevention of relapse
The last three steps are about maintenance of the already achieved with an aim of preventing relapse. The tenth step ensures continued individual inventory and prompt admission of wrongs. Petty arguments, chest thumping, and resentments can only lead to fall back into old character and thinking. The eleventh step is the daily commitment to the third step, which is an improvement of one’s relationship with God as a person understands Him. Meditating upon God and praying for His will and power, helps recovering alcoholics and drug addicts to calm naturally other than seek refuge in drugs and alcohol. The last step is putting into practicing the principle of the 12 steps in all affairs of one’s life and helping others to find their road to sobriety. Recovery is not only an individual effort but also involves community. That is why recovering addicts and alcoholics should give back to the community by assisting others.
Effects of drug use on the family
The effects of drug abuse and dependence to the family are diverse. Drug abuse and alcoholism threatens public health and safety (Lowinson et al, 2005). These threats are in the tune of billions of dollars in terms of health care expenditure, loss of job, crime and poor work productivity (Lowinson et al, 2005). The family bears the greatest blunt of these effects of drug addiction. Although government funding on healthcare is significant, individual income determines access to health care (Leukefeld et al, 2011). Drug treatment methods are expensive and end up draining family income and savings. In the event the addict is the breadwinner, poor productivity and loss of jobs causes serious financial stress to the family. Students perform poorly in school and consequently limited job opportunities. Poor school performance also affects the family members particularly parents emotionally. Crimes such as theft, homicide physical and verbal assault are associated with alcoholism, drug, and substance abuse. Drug addicts can engage in criminal activities such as stealing from family members to buy their next fix. Verbal abuse, humiliation before family members, and physical abuse strains relationships. In fact, alcoholism and drug addiction greatly contribute to the high divorce rates in United States.
In conclusion, the effects of alcoholism and drug abuse to individuals, family, and society are evident. It is important for treatment to begin in time to prevent extreme effects of alcoholism and drug addiction such as death. Creation of awareness on available and affordable treatment methods is necessary. This will reduce the prejudice attached to 12-step program since it was found effective. Statistics on teenage drinking in America are alarming. It is better for teenagers to keep away from people, things, or circumstances that would stimulate them to start drinking or abusing drugs. Prevention of teenage alcoholism and drug abuse is cheaper than cure and thus the importance of good addiction prevention strategies. The society should be ready to help recovering alcoholics and drug addicts to start and maintain a new of sobriety.
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