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Family Issues and Substance Abuse Research Paper

A family is a unit that provides the framework of love, support, and encouragement towards an individual. A child born in a family learns the dynamics of life through parental guidance and grow to become an upright person. An article by (Yule & Wilens, 2011) indicates that the behavioral characters depicted in children accrue from the family background. That is to say, family surrounding shapes a child’s growth and nurtures them positively. Adolescents in the UAE experience similar challenges and experiences as their counterparts in other countries. Despite the religious teachings and family support granted to them, the interaction among peers, the level of information available from the internet, and the parental guidance determines the way they behave. (Al Ghaferi et al., 2017) conducted scholarly research on the level of substance abuse in the UAE and found out that about twenty-seven percent of the youths sampled tested positive for drug usage. Further research has been conducted on family participation towards the adolescents’ involvement in substance abuse. Based on the research gap, family issues in a UAE’s adolescent’s life is one of the several factors that causes substance abuse, like not spending time with their family, having divorced parents and poor parental behavior.

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The statistics of substance abuse in the UAE
Globally, adolescents have been exposed to substance abuse in a rate that is drastically increasing. Years ago, the availability of drugs in the society was limited and religion, together with the social control, took a firm responsibility in enhancing morality among the youths. Today, the advent of technology, social connections, and family issues have contributed majorly to the availability and wide usage of substance abuse among adolescents. Jenifer Bell, on her article Drug addictions in Abu Dhabi on the rise indicated that “The National Rehabilitation Centre has treated 13.5 percent more substance abuse addicts so far this year than in the whole of last year” (2013). The adolescents, between the age of thirteen and eighteen, are engaging themselves in drug abuse, thus instilling pressure on rehabilitation centers to help the children recover from drug abuse.

Family issues and Substance Abuse
The age of adolescent is a critical age in a person’s life, which determines the transition from childhood to adulthood. A child that transits the age of adolescent positively manages to embody an upright personality. However, the experiences gained during the adolescent are influenced by several factors, including the family. Parents that spare time and are available in a child’s life contribute majorly towards the development of the child through moral teachings and constant guidance. At the age of adolescence, parents need to be available in the child’s life to observe the transition and help them go through life experiences. However, a broken family shakes the trust, dependency, and love of the adolescent, thus exposing them to substance abuse.

Divorced Parents
Divorce is the ultimate stage of family issues, which result from the constant misunderstanding between parents. A divorced marriage means that the love, care, and concern that existed in the family ceases to exist. The divorce between parents affects a child’s mental and emotional well-being, thus exposing them to issues such as substance abuse. First, the adolescents learn and grow through observing their parents and adopt critical lessons from parental guidance. Whitesell et al argue that an adolescent that witnesses the loss of love in the family is affected emotionally and loses one parent in that course (2013). The fact that the adolescent was used to both parents generates the feeling of longing and void in the child’s life, which has to be replaced by something else. During this period, the adolescent encounter behavioral challenges, which exposes them to substance abuse. That said, the involvement with substance abuse among the adolescents that have experienced divorce in their families result from the loss of love and the void created in their lives, which leads them to use drugs to distract themselves.

Besides, a divorce affects the parental guidance that was being offered by both parents. A single parent feels the pressure of raising the child alone, thus losing the track of taking care and observing the adolescents’ behavior. While the divorce may not affect the child directly, the lack of parental guidance experienced during a divorce gives the adolescent the loophole to attend parties at night and involve themselves in gangs around the community. Therefore, the absence of a parent in the child’s life through divorce, gives the adolescent the liberty to engage in substance abuse.

Less Family Time
Every parent strives to spend ample time with their children so that they become important people in their children’s lives. In the adolescent stage, family time is a crucial aspect, which allows the parent to instill good morals and watch over their children’s behavior change. (Yule & Wilens, 2011) indicate a family that spends less time together denies the adolescent a chance to express what they are going through during that stage, thus feeling lonely and less loved. The involvement with substance among the adolescents comes in when the child finds him/herself left out in the family, thus meeting with friends and encountering peer pressure. Through spending less time with the family, the children lack the chance to bond with the parents during meals or travel, thus turn to their friends to share and bond. In that situation, the adolescent meets bad company and ends up engaging in substance abuse.

Poor Parental Behavior
Poor parental behavior can be categorized in two ways; a parent depicting bad behavior towards the children and poor parental guidance offered by the parents. Several parents suffer from drug addiction and some of them use drugs in front of their children. For instance, a parent that drinks alcohol at home exposes the child to the same drug, and one day the child will try it out in the parent’s absence. Besides, a parent that uses drugs develops the perception to the adolescent that substance abuse is not bad, and they can also try those drugs. That said, most adolescent observe their parents’ behavior and adopt a similar lifestyle. On the other hand, poor parental guidance entails the behavior of the parent to care less for the child and ignore their behavioral changes (Whitesell, 2013). Parents that care less for their child allows them to try substance abuse and become addicted. Therefore, parental behavior contributes in exposing the child to substance abuse.

Every family contributes in the upbringing of the child and families that experience divorce, less time together, and poor parental behavior end up exposing their adolescents to substance abuse. The role of a family cannot be replaced by any other unit, thus the parents have the sole responsibility of taking care of their children and observing any behavioral changes. A divorced family exposes a child to an emotional breakdown, thus leading them to substance abuse. Poor family time and poor behavior of the parents also participate in the adolescent’s exposure to substance abuse. Therefore, the parents should take full parental responsibility and help their children overcome peer pressure that may lead them to substance abuse.

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Al Ghaferi, H. A., Ali, A. Y., & Gawad, T. A. (2017). Developing substance misuse services in United Arab Emirates: the National Rehabilitation Center experience. Journal of Psychology, 14(4), 92-96.
Bell, J. (2013). Drug addictions in Abu Dhabi on the rise. The National. Retrieved from
Whitesell, M., Bachand, A., Peel,, J., & Brown, M. (2013). Familial, Social, and Individual Factors Contributing to Risk for Adolescent Substance Use. Journal of Addiction, 1-8.
Yule, A., & Wilens, T. (2011). Familial Influences on Adolescent Substance Use. Psychiatric Times, 28(10). Retrieved from