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Substance abuse is one of the most critical health care concerns in modern society. It is associated with the detrimental influence of the problem on an individual’s health as well as their social integration. In most cases, the problem is connected to living in an unfavorable environment characterized by varying physical and emotional stressors, so different substances are seen as a way to mitigate the influence of these stressors on one’s wellbeing (Blume, 2016). Still, this desire to get away from problems by means of substances instead of making effort to improve an individual’s environment contributed to the evolution of the challenge of substance abuse into a real public health concern, thus driving the need for investigating it in detail and focusing on strategies for coping with the related issues (Gurganus et al., 2015).
State of the Science
Nowadays, special attention is paid to the challenge of substance abuse among both adolescents and adults. To cope with the problem, different approaches are designed and tested for their effectiveness in coping with the issue. Therefore, according to recent peer-reviewed and evidence-based studies, there are several trends in substance abuse that are supported by evidence. In general terms, it has been concluded that various interventions are helpful for making the scopes of the problem less significant (Blume, 2016; Estrada et al., 2017; Gurganus et al., 2015). Nevertheless, interventions differ in both targets and objectives. For instance, focusing on strict control of selling alcohol (the so-called point-of-sale interventions) is useful for decreasing the rates of adolescents and young adults drinking alcohol (Blume, 2016). On the other hand, there is a powerful impact of family-based interventions on addressing the issues related to the substance abuse problem mainly due to the improved family functioning and adolescents’ social interactions and life choices (Estrada et al., 2017). More than that, special attention is paid to the role of pharmacists in fostering the prevention of substance abuse because they might provide necessary education and assistance, thus decreasing the desire to try illegal substances or consume alcoholic beverages (“Pharmacist’s role in substance abuse prevention, education, and assistance,” 2016).
Based on what was mentioned above, it is obvious that focus is made on investigating the effectiveness of strategies aimed at decreasing the scope of the current day epidemic – substance abuse. The main stress is laid on different interventions. Except for it, there is significant progress in studying the impact of substance abuse on an individual’s health as well as their family and social interactions. All in all, the subject is deeply and comprehensively researched which points to the criticality of the problem and the desire to address it properly.
National Benchmarks Related to the Problem
Improving a nation’s health is one of the central tasks of the national health care system. Still, it is impossible without identifying nationwide benchmarks necessary for measuring outcomes of national health improvement programs. For this reason, the US Department of Health and Human Services pays special attention to establishing national benchmarks pertaining to substance abuse issues. These objectives are determined every decade. Therefore, as for the latest benchmarks, they are the following: increase the rate of adolescents aged between 12 and 17 avoidings trying alcohol for the first time from 85.6% to 94.2%; increase the same group rates for refraining from marijuana from 94.3% to 96.3%; increase the rate of high school seniors avoiding alcohol from 27.7% to 30.5%; and decrease the use of cocaine, LSD, hallucinogens, and methamphetamine among adolescents and members of their families (Sharma, 2015).
Gaps in the Literature
Regardless of spectacular progress in researching the problem of substance abuse and offering numerous ways for preventing its further outburst, there are still some critical gaps in the literature that should be mentioned. For instance, even though special attention is paid to the cultural relevance of interventions, little is being said about the cultural appropriateness of different substances, such as alcohol, marijuana, and even some illegal drugs (Blume, 2016). In addition, even though the focus is commonly made on the effectiveness of educational interventions, not much is being mentioned about the nationwide educational interventions and their role in achieving national benchmarks for combating the challenge of substance abuse (Gurganus et al., 2015).
Strategies for Preventing Substance Abuse
As mentioned above, educational interventions are effective when it comes to decreasing the rate of substance abuse. Still, in my opinion, increased knowledge is incomprehensive without the increased social awareness regarding the criticality of the problem in terms of both scopes of the challenge and severity of its outcomes. Therefore, to address the problem and prevent substance abuse, I would pay special attention to launching society-wide educational interventions. However, it is critical to take the initiative popular among adolescents and young adults. To achieve this objective, it is advisable to deploy social networks (for instance, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube) for sharing knowledge about the problem as well as making young people aware of the scopes of the problem and the extremely negative impact of substances on their health, families, and social interactions. The main idea is that early education is valuable for the future prevention of substance abuse.
Blume, A. W. (2016). Advances in substance abuse prevention and treatment interventions among racial, ethnic, and sexual minority populations. Alcohol Research, 38(1), 47-54.
Estrada, Y., Lee, T. K., Huang, S., Tapia, M. I., Velazquez, M. R., Martinez, M. J., … Prado, G. (2017). Parent-centered prevention of risky behaviors among Hispanic youths in Florida. American Journal of Public Health, 107(4), 607-613.
Gurganus, K. M., Butt, A. L., Kirchenbauer, C. M., Melkvik, C., Piatt, J., Hawkins, J., … Onuorah, Y. (2015). Implementing the Regional Epidemiological Outcomes Workgroup (REOW) in the State of Oklahoma for substance abuse prevention: An ODMHSAS Project. Community Mental Health Journal, 51(5), 535-539.
Pharmacist’s role in substance abuse prevention, education, and assistance. (2016). American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, 73(9), e267-e270.
Sharma, M. (2015). Progress in substance abuse indicators of Healthy People 2020: Implications for research and practice. Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education, 59(3), 3-6.