Study Document

Teenage Health Vulnerabilities with Substance Abuse US Essay

Pages:7 (2249 words)



Topic:Substance Abuse

Document Type:Essay


Interventions to Reduce Adolescent Substance Abuse

The purpose of this paper is to provide a review of the relevant literature to describe current government initiatives for addressing substance abuse by adolescents in the United States. An analysis of what is being done as well as what is not being done is followed by an examination of gaps in the current initiatives. In addition, a discussion concerning the health advocacy groups that have attempted to advocate for this health issue and the possibility of collaboration with one of these groups is followed by an analysis concerning how collaboration with existing advocacy groups can further the efficacy of the program to address this public health issue. Likewise, a discussion concerning the public health theory/model/framework which can be used to guide a program and intervention of the public health issue and a description concerning the proposed intervention to address this public health issue is followed by a description concerning its administration and requisite resources. Finally, a discussion concerning the long-term requirements of the envisioned intervention is followed by a summary of the research and important findings concerning adolescent substance abuse in the United States today in the conclusion.

Review and Discussion

Current government initiatives/plans for addressing adolescent substance abuse

Given the severity, scope and importance of the problem, it is not surprising that there are a number of initiatives and programs that are sponsored by local, state and the national government that are designed to address substance abusing behaviors by young Americans today. What is truly surprising, however, is just how ineffective that many of these initiatives have been in addressing the problem, particularly in view of the enormous sums of money and effort that have been devoted to this issue over the past several decades. For instance, according to one authority, “We have been fighting drug abuse for almost a century. Four Presidents have personally waged war on drugs. Unfortunately, it is a war that we are losing” (The United States war on drugs, 2017).

This is not to say, however, that no progress has been achieved at all, but it is to say that changing public attitudes about marijuana, the most widely abused substance by young people at present, and its increasing availability nationwide, mean that it is likely that adolescents will continue to experiment with this illicit substance irrespective of efforts to stop it (, 2019). Notwithstanding the lack of substantive progress in this area, the various levels of government in the United States have continued their efforts to address substance abusing behaviors by adolescents. While state and local government programs vary significantly, some representative programs targeting adolescent substance abuse that are sponsored by the U.S. government include the following:

· Bureau of Indian Affairs, Office of Human Services;

· Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;

· National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism;

· Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools; and,

· Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (, 2019).

Taken together, this broad-based approach to addressing adolescence substance abuse represents the best in available evidence-based strategies, but there remains a gap in the existing body of knowledge concerning the actual prevalence of substance use and abuse by young Americans today. For instance, the federal Web organization, emphasizes that, “Getting accurate estimates of the prevalence of substance use and abuse among youth is difficult. As a result, existing prevalence data likely is underestimated” (, 2019, para. 2). While there remains a lack of precision in determining the true prevalence of substance abuse among American adolescents, the problem is widely regarded as being sufficiently serious to warrant action by a number of health advocacy groups, including those discussed below.

Current health advocacy groups for this health issue

Like government efforts, there are literally thousands of health advocacy groups working at the local, state and federal levels that are focused on reducing adolescent substance abuse in the United States today. Some of the more well known of these national groups include the following:

· Al Anon and Alateen;

· Advocates for Recovery;

· Big Brothers and Sisters;

· Council on Alcohol and Drug…

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…inherent in your program. How could social marketing and mass media help your program?

One of the more challenging aspects of treating adolescent substance abuse is the fact that the overwhelming majority of these young people do not regard their behaviors as problematic and are highly reluctant to actively engage in any treatment regimen. For instance, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (2019), “Adolescents with substance use disorders rarely feel they need treatment and almost never seek it on their own” (para. 7). This reluctance means that the program can benefit from social marketing using online resources that are popular with young people such as Facebook and Twitter. These online resources can serve as a valuable tool to help communicate the actual risks that are involved in even experimenting with illicit drugs and provide information to interested adolescents concerning where they can go for help in their own communities.

Likewise, high-profile coverage in the local mainstream media such as newspapers, television and radio can help spread the word concerning the availability of these treatment services and other community-based resources that are focused on addressing adolescent substance abuse. This approach is congruent with the guidance provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (2019) which advises, “Members of the community (such as school counselors, parents, peers, and mentors) can encourage young people who need help to get into treatment—and support them along the way” (para. 5). In sum, ensuring the long-term sustainability of the program envisioned herein will require developing and applying the best evidence-based behavioral therapies available, communicating any success stories that are achieved as well as continuous fund-raising efforts.


It is reasonable to suggest that adolescents have engaged in substance abusing behaviors since time immemorial, and it would be seriously misguided to believe the problem will simply go away on its own today. The research was consistent in showing that adolescence is a period in life that is characterized by experimenting with new things, including illicit drugs in many cases. The research also showed, though, that there are some treatment strategies available that can…

Sample Source(s) Used


A public health-based approach. (2019). Rural Health. Retrieved from https://www.ruralhealth

Barker, P. (2009). Psychiatric and mental health nursing: The craft of caring. London: Hodder Arnold.

Burrow-Sanchez, J. J. (2009, Summer). Understanding adolescent substance abuse: Prevalence, risk factors, and clinical implications. Journal of Counseling and Development, 84(3), 283-288.

Guy, X. & Slesnick, N. (2016, April). Changes in family relationships among substance abusing runaway adolescents: A comparison between family and individual therapies. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 42(2), 299-302.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Principles of adolescent substance use disorder treatment: A research-based guide. Retrieved from publications/principles-adolescent-substance-use-disorder-treatment-research-based-guide/principles-adolescent-substance-use-disorder-treatment.

Schwartz, R. C. & Smith, S. D. (2009, October). Screening and assessing adolescent substance abuse: A primer for counselors. Journal of Addictions & Offender Counseling, 24(1), 23-26.

The United States war on drugs. (2017 ). Stanford University. Retrieved from https://web. (2019). Substance abuse agencies. Retrieved from

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