Critique of Research on Drug Abuse in High School settings


Substance abuse has been a persuasive problem to the whole world cutting across socioeconomic, racial and geographic bounds. Its effects are not only straining the resources of the health care but also of the judicial systems. A drug intervention is a well arranged, resolving scheme which is intended to persuade individuals with the problem of either alcohol or substance abuse to seek assistance so as to overcome the addiction. Relatives and friends involved in a person’s life may use the intervention to exhibit the extent of the effects of alcoholism or substance. The success of an intervention does not mark the start of confrontation but an opportunity for an addicted individual to agree upon being help in taking the first step toward recovery. Therefore in this paper, we will be evaluating the intervention process, preventive programs and treatment process. It will focus mainly on adolescents which the age group that is in school. Moreover, it is also a stage of transition in which most people are vulnerable to being initiated into substance abuse.

Critique of Research on Drug Abuse in High School settings

i.) Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide: Third Edition. (2012). 

Being an addict of a drug is an intricate illness. Often it is an intense, unmanageable desire for a drug, along with compulsive use that continues even in the face of devastating consequences. The article by the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment addresses the vast variety of drugs that are abused including alcohol, nicotine, and prescribed drugs. The issue of addiction affects various brain circuits, such as those involved in motivation, learning and memory, and control of conduct.  Therefore addiction can be taken to be more or less a brain ailment. Depending on the age or genetic orientation of an individual they will tend to vary in degree of vulnerability as far as addiction is concerned. Certainly, it is more likely for the youths to be more vulnerable to this menace in comparison to older people.

Initially, when being introduced to drug consumption, it is usually an individual’s choice to take the drug. However this change over time that ability becomes compromised and consuming the drug become compulsive, often making a person’s self-control passive. Based on research conducted it was revealed that quite a substantial amount of youths believe that they can stop using drugs at their will, they hence most try to quit without treatment. Few have been successful in achieving this, but there are those whose attempts have resulted in more failure in their performance in school. Those students who began abusing drugs at a tender age experience changes in the functioning of their brain which persists long after even after quitting drugs. Such drug-induced alterations in brain function may result in behavioral consequences, like an inability to control the impulse (“Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide: Third Edition,” 2012).

Some of the factors that cause addicts in schools to crave for drugs entail: family conflicts, stress from school, peer pressure among others. Often addicts are not consciously aware of these triggering factors. The occurrence of the reasons mentioned above makes it hard for one to stay clean from drugs. The act of helping addicted people stop seeking and using drugs obsessively is referred to as drug treatment. It takes many forms which vary in time, setting and also the personality. Since addition is not a onetime treatment, its treatment is characterized with regular monitoring and multiple interventions. There exist quite many approaches for treating addiction that has been proven effective. Just to mention a few they include: medications, behavioral therapy or a combination of both.

Other than bringing drug abuse to a standstill, treatment aims at returning students to quality performance in school and amends their relation with their parents, teachers, and fellow schoolmates. Those who have undergone treatment have been found to stop using drugs, improve in class work, psychological functioning and health. It is also important to mention that individual’s treatment relies on the extent to which one is a victim.

It is essential to have strategies for maintaining addicts in treatment. It is important to motivate drug victim to keep up with the process of quitting. This can be done by establishing therapeutic relations with them so as to ensure the treatment plan is developed cooperatively with their desires. Drug abusers in puberty have unique needs that emanate from their immaturity. The adolescent is very crucial as it marks the stage where a person graduates into adulthood in terms of their judgment, decision-making, and planning (“Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide: Third Edition,” 2012). Therefore addicts in this stage have to be handled cautiously. With that said treatments that treatments that integrate the system in which adolescents participate, positively interact with parents and learn the importance of such relationships are among the most effective. This source is relevant to the contemporary society as it acknowledges how difficult it can be to try achieving abstinence from drugs without treatment. It also considers some of the factors that might be intriguing students into doing drugs. By understanding these reasons it becomes easier to initialize strategies of intervention for preventing the menace.

ii.) A Review on School Based Interventions for Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs (ATOD) in the United States: Can Developing Countries in Africa Adopt these Preventive Programs Based on ATOD Approaches? 

In like the past five or so decades the issue of substance abuse has been a threat not only in developed countries but to the rest of the world. More specifically in the United States abuse of substance has been a changing its characteristics as to the primary drugs of abuse and the people abusing them. According to the article By Amos and Stephen Nsimba, the easiest way to control drug abuse in societies is preventing its use, which may be incorporated in schools. It is, of course, easier to avoid the initiation of a drug in comparison to stopping its use once it has developed into a subtle disorder. 

According to the article, prevention is not all easy and straightforward. There is excellent evidence that prevention should focus chiefly on teenagers and children. A majority of addicts are introduced to consumption of drug during adolescent which is the most dangerous period for quickly giving in. Prevention activities should focus predominantly on adolescents and children through media-based programs, family-based program or school-based programs. School-based preventive programs are based on approaches such as:

  • Social and personal skill training
  • Information dissemination
  • Psychological Inoculation
  • Interactive and non-interactive programs

The Information dissemination approach assumes that people start consuming psychoactive substances as a result of lack of sufficient information about the adverse consequences of such drugs. This approach lays its foundation on providing factual information that will most probably help the adolescents in school to make logical and rational decisions of not abusing the substances. Social and personal skills training is an approach that involves teaching general personal and social skills such as decision-making skills, problem-solving skills, skills for enhancing self-esteem, general cognitive skills to resist influences, and self-control. This approach aims at teaching overall life talents rather than skills related to the use of a particular drug. This strategy is probable to have much larger impact than only on drug use. 

There are many factors which are considered imperative in influencing the effectiveness of a program. The majority of these factors pertain to the program distinctiveness. Implementing a program on a large scale becomes less effectual, presumably due to decrease in program implementation dynamism (E. D. Nsimba & Y. Massele, 2012). The individual influencing the program also impose an impact on the efficiency of the program. A program with multiple components or that entails intervention at family or society level stand a higher chance of being successful in schools. Incorporation of the community in preventive approaches brings in a pool of ideas that are more applicable.

In spite of school-based prevention programs having a beneficial impact in preventing the start of using substances, their cost is quite minimum. Non-interactive programs aimed at creating awareness or enhancing merely positive psychological traits such as self-esteem. Drugs are hallucinogens; give consumers the feeling of being high. Most substance users in schools attribute the use of drugs to forgetting the pressure they are put in by their teachers and parents and other social, economic problems. This excuse is dangerous because, with the present social and economic problems, more and more youths may abuse drugs which may lead to forming a drug intake culture and progression of the problems associated with substance abuse. 

There is a myth that drugs increase endurance and performance be it in class work, athletics, and general social life. The fault is not so much on the youths but rather on the public figures they look up to who are found in such scandals. For instance, several prominent musicians and footballers have been found to be using drugs to boost themselves in their field of expertise. With such knowledge youths when in access to drugs will not be hesitant giving it a try. The article also addresses the effects that use of substance has on the society. 

A community with drug abusers more especially youths in schools faces the problem of insecurity. Since they are not working yet they have to have money to maintain being supplied by their peddler; they may opt to steal. Also since drugs alter feelings, the abusers may be involved in fights in the school (E. D. Nsimba & Y. Massele, 2012). Such students make learning environment unbearable to other serious school mates. However, the article fails to explain some of the key reasons that might lead to the desire of using drugs. It would have been more important before looking at methods of preventing drug about, know why drugs are used by youths. By sorting out the issues that cause people to use drugs, there will not even be the need of having to undergo all the complicated approaches of preventing its abuse.

iii.) Evidence-Based Interventions for Preventing  Substance Use Disorders in Adolescents. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America

The process of drug abuse treatment aids in amending the ways of addicts changing their beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors towards substance use. There are some similarities between the principl1es of treating drug addicts and those in the criminal justice system. It is essential for treatments to address all forms of substance abuse, individually or jointly including the consumption of illegal substances such as heroin and bhang. From the article by Kenneth Griffin and Gilbert most teenager drug treatment approaches are based on an abstinence model.  Sadly, a relapse to substance abuse is a frequent occurrence among people of this age group. Within a span not exceeding twelve months, a half of youths that were initially treated with a drug problem and alcohol are likely to some drug use (Griffin & Botvin, 2010).

Contemporary studies on teenagers relapse risk focuses presumably on the individual variable and treatment variable.  Treatment variables entail factors precisely to the adolescent’s treatment experience, such as counselor rapport, discharge status, and aftercare consultation. A reliable predictor of treatment outcome as far as addition is concerned is the relationship between an addict and his or her therapist. For adolescents, aftercare services have to be more frequent so as to completely reduce the chances of them going back to their old unfruitful ways. On the other hand, individual variables just as the name suggest deals with unique aspects that are explicit to the individual adolescent. 

When there are too many relapse factors in the picture, no positive barriers are stopping one from using drugs again, as a result, of the individual surrenders back to the addiction life. However, if these relapse factors were challenged, then youth’s decision-making would have steered him or her to hold on to a drug-free lifestyle (Griffin & Botvin, 2010). Analyzing past decades progress has been made about the development and evaluation of treatment for teenagers’ drug abuse. Less has been compiled as far as the nature and extent of effective treatments for drug-abusing among youths is concerned in spite of the toil put into research. 

The good establishment of patterns of onset and progression of drug abuse during puberty has triggered the development of a variety of prevention initiatives for both adolescents and under ages. Involvement of any teen in substance use depends, to a great extent on exposure to negative influences that manipulate their vulnerability. Social influences are powerful tools that entice youths into experimenting drugs.  Take for instance a commercial that has an appealing message that consumption of alcohol helps build up one’s confidence. 

 Young teens will be curious to know if it is true and will they experiment they turn to be addicts without knowing. Another crucial area that the article analyzes is whether the customary aggressive approaches of addiction treatment are effective with modern adolescents. The article acknowledges the substantial progress that has been made in developing prevention programs for young youths in schools that abuse drugs. It also gives reasons and appropriate methodologies of avoiding a relapse. More has also been expounded on the preventive programs of drug addiction among youths.

iv.) Social and Cultural Aspects of Drug Abuse in Adolescents

Every culture has used psychoactive drugs to boost social interaction, to heal or to alter consciousness. Chemical manipulation just represented a large technical capacity, more riches, leisure, personal choice and, conversely, a reduction in constraining social settings. However, drug abuse was conceived which manipulates the initial intended use of drugs. According to the article, Social and Cultural Aspects of Drug Abuse in Adolescents by Jiloha cultural and social factors play an essential role in the initiation, maintenance and therapeutic intervention of drug abuse among youths.  Social customs are shared and assist in specifying acceptable and intolerable behavior that persons consider to be essential for their wellbeing.

Many factors play a part in the initiation and maintenance process of drug abuse in adolescents. Initiation of drug use is complex, for instance, the cultural and social factors influencing the initiation of smoking tobacco may vary from continent to continent (Jiloha, 2009). Parents and guarding have a great influence on their children when it comes to abuse of the substance. That is why the children of smoker parents are is twice likely to become smokers. An adolescent whose parent disapproves smoking is more likely not to indulge in its abuse. Similarly, parental attitude towards alcohol plays an important role in predicting whether an adolescent will turn to a non-alcoholic or alcoholic.

Drug abuse among adolescents has led to an increment in incidences of HIV and tuberculosis. HIV has risen as when under the influence of substances youths abuse, they lose control of themselves and practice unsafe sex carelessly. The outcome of this is not only AIDS but also unexpected premature pregnancies which have led to school dropout and even death during an abortion. The earlier the age at which a person starts abusing a drug the more likely that individual is to develop a disorder attributed to by the drug. For example, those who take alcohol in large quantities end up suffering from liver cirrhosis. This reduces life expectancy rate of youths depriving a nation and the entire whole future leaders and great men of tomorrow.

Based on this article it is upon the grown up people who interact with adolescents to be cautious to changes in a teenager’s behavior and appearance that may be as a result of substance abuse. By recognizing potential warning signs and symptoms of drug addiction, treatment may start being issued at the perfect time for its effectiveness (Jiloha, 2009). Some of the common behavioral changes that may suggest substance abuse among teenagers include:

 • Abrupt changes in character without another known cause

•Sudden loss of interest in once favorite hobbies, or other activities

• Drastic decline in performance in school

• Increased secretiveness

This article is convenient as it goes the extra mile as it outlines how adolescents ought to be handled once they have been fund to be addicts. They need all the support from their families, teachers, and fellow schoolmate. The author is also more realistic as he considers the cultural constraints that may act as a barrier if a person is an addict of substance. For instance, some cultural groups may find treatment invasive hence seeing the need to involve not only family members but also the entire school in which the drug victim attends.

Although it is disturbing, introduction to alcohol and popular drugs of abuse such as cocaine, tobacco, marijuana, and club drugs is a common phenomenon for young adults and adolescents in universities, colleges, and high school. The menace of substance use has resulted in serious consequences in secondary schools throughout the American states’. Substance use behavior has been found to be escalating during mid-adolescence with a striking increase in incidence and prevalence during the time of transition to college. Drug abuse poses negative challenges for schools and youths by continuing to threaten adolescent development. Schools have been forced to cope up with the adverse effects brought forth by substance use among students from diversified economic, social and ethnic backgrounds.

The purpose of preventive programs such as the school-based drug prevention programs is to prevent, children’s use of a variety of substances, both illicit and licit ones such as alcohol, tobacco, heroin, and bhang. To resolve all the consequence that are brought about by abuse of the substance, the community must come together as one, accepting addicts for who they are and help them from there. It is not any easy take by with the right attitude; the youths will be delivered from the pit hole of drug abuse.


E. D. Nsimba, S., & Y. Massele, A. (2012). A Review on School Based Interventions for Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs (ATOD) in the United States: Can Developing Countries in Africa Adopt these Preventive Programs Based on ATOD Approaches? Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy01(S2). doi:10.4172/2155-6105.s2-007

Griffin, K. W., & Botvin, G. J. (2010). Evidence-Based Interventions for Preventing Substance Use Disorders in Adolescents. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America19(3), 505-526. doi:10.1016/j.chc.2010.03.005

Jiloha, R. C. (2009). Social and Cultural Aspects of Drug Abuse in Adolescents12.

Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide: Third Edition. (2012). PsycEXTRA Dataset. doi:10.1037/e686332012-001

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