Treating Adolescents With Substance Abuse Disorders Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Adolescent Substance Abuse

Substance abuse, commonly referred to as drug abuse and alcohol abuse, has recently gained popularity amid the youth of America. This has been confirmed by SAMHSA (2003) whose survey indicated that around 2.2 million teenagers were convicted of being involved in substance abuse in 2003. Teenage is called the golden period of a person's life as this is full of excitement and energy. People are willing to experience all the good and bad things in life, and for some natural reason, bad things tend to be more attractive. Therefore, the inclination of youth towards excessive usage of drugs and alcohol is not surprising. However, the teenage period does not last long. If people continue the same activity as adults, this can ruin a person's social, academic life, putting a stop to his professional career. This makes it a critical problem that should be resolved as a priority.

The disease is not fatal. A specific treatment has been designed for teenagers that take into account their development, psychological and social requirements. The success of this treatment is dependent on the person's willingness to get rid of the calamity. Along with this, it also depends on the nature of treatment, involvement of well-known and experienced therapists and financial stability of the project.

Research Findings and Analysis

As mentioned earlier, the inclination of youth towards substance abuse is not something new, in a similar manner; it did not come as a bolt from the blue that we have been endowed with works of some of the famous authors to have a better understanding of this problem and to find an effective solution for it. Williams and Chang (2000) were amid the researchers who took an initiative to evaluate different forms of treatment available and to determine effectiveness of each treatment. Based on their study of 8 multi-program, multi-sites and 45 single programs, they identified three forms of treatment; hospital inpatient, outpatient therapy and therapeutic community programs. As their study was based on different programs, the completion of this research work was not easy. Along with a unique system for record keeping, all these programs addressed different features of substance abuse treatment. To reconcile the varied data into one reasonable conclusion was not easy. The hardships faced by author in reconciliation of data were mentioned in his research work that he stated that the topic still has room for exploitation and researchers should divert their attention towards the unanswered questions (Williams & Chang, 2000).

Despite the various hardships faced during their research, William and Chang (2000) managed to identify the prerequisites of the success of treatment. They divided the components into pre-treatment and post-treatment variables. This is because the treatment does not end with the completion of treatment sessions with therapists, a follow up with patient is necessary to ensure that the patient does not resort back to substance abuse. Pre-treatment components have been mentioned earlier and include successful completion of training sessions, involvement of experienced therapists, well designed programs that cater to all the aspects of treatment and financially stable projects to make use of advanced technology for the purpose. Post-treatment components are basically follow-up procedures and include attendance in aftercare and peer/parental social support.

"Something is better than nothing." This saying best suits the stance taken by William and Chang (2000) regarding substance abuse treatment in their research work. As treatment has certain benefits, it is preferred as opposed to not having any treatment for drug abuse. However, literature has failed to compare different treatment methods on the basis of location, passion and comparing the effect on homogeneous population with that of heterogeneous. Research also fails to recognize the effect of treatment on different individuals.

It should not be forgotten that the treatment is for the youth of America. In this young age, people are not mature enough to cope with different situations; therefore, treatment sessions should be designed in such a way that they incorporate the developmental, social and psychological requirements of teenagers. At this point, it is important to recognize the fact that all teenagers are different; therefore treatment sessions should be designed separately for each patient. Mark et al. (2009) confirms this point in his research work stating that teenagers tend to be extremists and cannot handle any situation maturely. Similarly, in this age teenagers are more likely to be attracted towards the bad or dangerous social aspect in order to be as cool as their friends in school and college. Mark et al. (2009) emphasized on the development needs of patients as this their transformation period from a kid to an adult, and this transformation phase is filled with the various issues linked with losing dependency on family and developing their own identity.

Along with this, the study conducted by Mark et al. (2009) also identified the loopholes in substance abuse treatment. The research states that the treatment fails to consider the mental health of patient as this is an important factor that can influence the outcome of treatment and person's attitude to the treatment sessions and its aftereffects.

Another author, Diller (2007) identified cultural competence as one of the vital components of this treatment. All patients come from different cultural backgrounds and treatment sessions will prove to be more effective if the take into consideration the cultural values and beliefs of each patient. Cultural competence refers to the organizing of treatment sessions as the practitioners should be fully aware of the varied cultures in America.

The findings of Diller (2007) have been highlighted by Mark et al. (2009) as a limitation to effective treatment. Mark and colleagues were of the view that currently institutions and hospitals offering treatment sessions fail to consider the importance of cultural competence and confirmed his point through a survey. This survey indicated that in total 2,070 (82.8%) of institutions accepted men and women and 2,369 (94.8%) accepted gays and lesbians for treatment. Of these, only 1,153 (46.1%) institutes had specialized treatments for women as compared to 839 (33.6%) for men and only 156 (6.2%) for gays and lesbians. Furthermore, only 1,239 (49.3%) identified linguistic differences among teenagers and arranged for sessions in other languages.

The main purpose of this research is to determine the extent to which the treatment sessions have succeeded in curing teenagers from the disease of substance abuse. For this purpose, the study makes use of data generated from a variety of sources and this includes MEDLINE, Wilson Social Science Abstracts, psyche Info, ERIC, Social work abstracts, Social Science Citation Index, Criminal Justice Abstracts, Dissertation Abstracts International, National Criminal Justice Research Service, Social, Psychological, Criminological, Educational Trials Register and Psi Tri databases within the time period of 1960s to 2008.

It would be impractical to assume that all the data generated from the above mentioned sources was used for research purposes. Authors constituted a sample of 64 abstracts, 16 studies and 26 outcomes. The sample was a fair representation of the projected population. Different measurements were determined using Hedges g effect sizes and random effects model. Additionally, Stratified analysis was used to see the sights of heterogeneity (Tripodi et al., 2010).

The selection of sample, especially studies was based on pre-determined qualification criterion. Only studies that qualified the 5 conditions to be qualified for sample were included for research purposes. The first condition stated that study should include a practical application for drug abuse treatment to increase its credibility. The second condition was a reminder that analysis is based on teenagers as it stated that the study used should be targeted at teenagers (within the age group of 12-19 years). However, if a study targets both teenagers and an adult and is a fair indicator of factors affecting the success or failure of treatment, it can also qualify for inclusion in sample. The third condition highlights the fact that quantitative data is necessary to validate our theory and ensure its reliability. It states that a study should consider qualitative measure such as drinking regularity, extent to which it can be controlled and quantity inhaled per day. Fourth condition states that comparison of treatments will provide a clear picture of suitability and effectiveness of a particular treatment. Therefore, study should include comparison of two different groups such as control group or wait listing group. The fifth condition strictly deals with the use of pharmacological therapies, restricting the use of these therapies to situations where the treatment involved usage of drug control medicines. Meta analysis flowchart is a pictorial representation of the study screening process (Tripodi et al., 2010).

Authors maintained a detailed documentation of all the components of their research which included: references used, characteristics of different procedures used, factors that can affect the end result, measures, conclusions, details of treatment method used, and any other data considered to be important, for example, intervention coding form. This was the initial recording procedure which was followed by a double coding of all the data used in research. This data was analyzed by 2 authors to ensure that the…

Sources Used in Document:


Diller, J.V. (2007). Cultural Diversity: A Primer for the Human Services. 3rd ed. pp. 28.

Mark, T.L, Song, X., Vandivort, R., Duffy, S., Buttler, J., Coffey, R., Schabert, V. (2009). Characterizing substance abuse programs that treat adolescents. Retrieved from

SAMHSA. (2003). Results from the 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Retrieved from

Tripodi, S.J.; Bender, K; Litschge, C; Vaughn, V.G. (2010). Interventions for Reducing Adolescent Alcohol Abuse: A Meta-analytic Review. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2010; 164(1):85-91

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