Substance Abuse Disorder in Adolescents

Running Head: Substance Abuse Disorder 1


Substance Abuse Disorder 2

Substance Abuse Disorder in Adolescents

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Substance abuse disorder in adolescents, interventions, and outcomes

Substance use disorder affects a person’s brain and behavior leading to the inability to control the use of either a legal or illegal drug or medication Commonly abused drugs include nicotine, marijuana, and alcohol. Substance use disorder is prevalent among the youth. It is estimated that most of the substance abusers admitted in treatment centers started the use of substances at 17 years old or even younger, approximately 10.2% began using substances at eleven years or younger. The period of adolescence is regarded as a high-risk period for the initial use of alcohol use. There are associations between the age at which an individual begins the use of alcohol and the frequencies of dependence or alcohol use. The national survey on drug use and health data stated that among adults who initially tried marijuana at 14 years or younger, 13.25 fell under illicit dependence or abuse of drugs, which was six times higher than adults whose’s first-time using alcohol was at the age of eighteen (Poudel, & Gautam, 2017).

The early onset of drug use presents a high probability of long-term impairments. The early onset of alcohol drinking is linked to various problematic outcomes in adolescence and during the young adulthood age which include delinquent behavior, dropping out of school, and unintentional injuries amongst the young users of substances. Among adolescents who result from substance abuse, there is no evidence of race or ethnic differences. However, of this population, non-Hispanic Caucasians are more likely to receive treatment for substance abuse compared to Hispanics or African-Americans (Mansion, & Chassin, 2016). Drug abuse is prevalent among adolescents due to a number of reasons including fitting in, feeling good, peer pressure, high-stress levels, for experimentation. Electronic media has been one of the key players in the promotion of substance abuse amongst adolescents. These individuals are exposed to the media for long periods where they get exposed to both beneficial and harmful habits including drug abuse and sexual aggravation (Khatib et al., 2018).

There are various interventions focused on treating substance abuse disorders among adolescents. However, these interventions depend on the degree of substance abuse in particular individuals. For example, for tobacco and smoking, interventions including school-based interventions help individuals make positive steps towards reducing withdrawal symptoms and ceasing the use of tobacco during their adolescence, and reducing the possibility of relapsing. Among the use of alcohol in adolescents, school-based alcohol prevention interventions have been linked to reducing the frequency of cannabis (Carney et al., 2016), while family-based interventions have a minimal but persistent impact on the misuse of alcohol amongst adolescents. School-based interventions combined with social competence and social influence approaches have proved effective against the use of cannabis and other drugs.

All these interventions combined with other treatments including behavior counseling, medical devices and applications for treating withdrawal symptoms, medication, evaluation and treatment for dealing with other issues related to drug use including depression and anxiety, and long-term following up of individuals to prevent relapsing into self-destructive substance abuse (Rashidat, 2020). These treatments help individuals recover from the effects of drug abuse, mend relationships, regain concentration in school, and ensure that adolescents experiencing substance abuse disorder do not relapse into the abuse after getting treatment. Since not all treatments are effective for every individual, finding the appropriate intervention for an individual is an essential step to ensuring that the patient is treated on a long-term basis.

Why substance use is a clinical issue

Substance use disorder has become an increasingly frequent issue in the community. However, it is known that very few people with substance use disorder turn to professionals to get treatment for the disorder on their own, while others, do not know of any existing treatments for substance use disorder or even how to access treatments. For those who get treatment for substance use disorder, they are prompted by other factors except their prevailing condition including severe health problems like injury, illness, chronic health conditions including depression, and overdosing. Adolescence is the period for the beginning of behaviors and conditions that affect their health during that period and extends to adulthood disorders. Unhealthy behavior including smoking and the use of substances often begins in adolescence. Drug abuse is a major contributing factor for major issues affecting adolescents that all go back to healthcare including accidents, poor health, suicide, and mental illnesses which make the issue a clinical concern.

The initiation or use of substances is intensified by several factors including peer influence, parenting quality, and biological inherent disposition towards the dependence on drugs (Das, et al., 2016). This results in a cycle where individuals are unable to execute their operations as effective members of society and are instead consumed by their drug dependence. It is therefore up to healthcare practitioners to help salvage these individuals from their self-sabotaging activities on the use of substances which is raising concerns within the healthcare field. Globally, the leading cause of premature deaths is the use of tobacco, and most of these smokers initiate the use of tobacco in adolescence. Efforts should therefore be focused on early identification, awareness creation, and prevention programs. Due to the prevailing burden and the effects substance abuse has on adults, the healthcare systems must incorporate effective interventions and platforms of delivery to improve the overall health outcomes of adolescents experiencing substance use disorders.

Best supporting article

George, R. A. (2020). Nursing Interventions for adolescents with drug abuse. A literature review

The article gives detailed information on the prevalence of drug addiction amongst adolescents and identifies risk factors associated with substance abuse amongst adolescents in different divisions including macro-level, micro-level, and individual characteristics. The article also properly explains the consequences and health effects of substance use amongst adolescents. Following this, the article explains a variety of interventions appropriate for adolescents that are dependent on drugs.

The article explains the common interventions best suited for dealing with drug addiction amongst teenagers. Behavioral interventions assist individuals to recover from substance dependency by being actively involved in therapies and masking improvements in resistance to drugs. Family-based interventions involve the individual’s family in the treatment process, the article emphasizes the use of this intervention because of the bonding factor amongst family members. The article also goes into recovery support systems that reinforce the treatment offered by engagement into support programs. The article also explains why nurses are well-suited to deal with substance abuse, stating that nurses have means of interacting with adolescents and have the ability to influence the health of individuals with substance use disorder.




Carney, T., Myers, B. J., Louw, J., & Okwundu, C. I. (2016). Brief school‐based interventions and behavioral outcomes for substance‐using adolescents. Cochrane database of systematic reviews, (1).

Das, J. K., Salam, R. A., Arshad, A., Finkelstein, Y., & Bhutta, Z. A. (2016). Interventions for adolescent substance abuse: An overview of systematic reviews. Journal of Adolescent Health, 59(4), S61-S75.

George, R. A. (2020). Nursing Interventions for adolescents with drug abuse. A literature review.

Khatib, M. N., Sinha, A., Gaidhane, A. M., Simkhada, P., Behere, P. B., Saxena, D., … & Syed, Z. Q. (2018). A systematic review on the effect of electronic media among children and adolescents on substance abuse. Indian journal of community medicine: official publication of Indian Association of Preventive & Social Medicine, 43(Suppl 1), S66.

Mansion, A. D., & Chassin, L. (2016). The effect of race/ethnicity on the relationship between substance use disorder diagnosis and substance use treatment receipt among male serious adolescent offenders. Children and youth services review, 61, 237-244.

Poudel, A., & Gautam, S. (2017). Age of onset of substance use and psychosocial problems among individuals with substance use disorders. BMC psychiatry, 17(1), 1-7.

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