Research Papers

Substance Use Disorder Research Paper

The Nature of the Problem
Substance use has been a cause for global concern over the last few decades. As a social issue affecting health, it is categorized as a social health problem hence establishing the foundation of this research. This study is of primary importance due to the chronic relapsing nature of this condition has contributed significantly to maintaining the prevalence at almost a stable level over that time. Historically, substance use has played an influential role in imparting devastating effects on health through the HIV and AIDS epidemic in adolescents further indicating the importance of developing an understanding of this issue. Additionally, it has been rampant in nations experiencing rapid socioeconomic transformations (Rahman & Tripathi, 2016).

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Countries worst affected are those undergoing economic or political transitions. The findings of Rahman and Tripathy’s (2016) research elaborate the age factor as a variable in understanding substance abuse and its effects on the psychological well-being of adolescents. According to the studies conducted around the world, the critical suggestion forwarded on this parameter is involving adolescents from the age of 14 in drug use and abuse (Chakravarthy, Shah, & Lotfipour, 2013). The rationale provided in justifying this observation is the transitional nature of adolescence whereby children at this stage are more reckless, impulsive, and rebellious in comparison to their earlier developmental phases. Through an intricate evaluation of the relationship between substance use and emotional well-being, it is vital to consider numerous etiologies in developing an understanding of this high-risk behavior, particularly in adolescents.

Research attributes the myriad of physical and emotional changes experienced by adolescents to their engagement in high-risk behaviors. Various reasons justify this tendency observed globally in this age group, including fears of inadequacy, group, and developmental dynamics, and peer pressure. In their quest to establish individual identities and personality devoid of familial interference, adolescents are likely to reject values instilled from childhood and focus on their expressions of individuality through rebellious behaviors, clothing, and music. Substance abuse is a behavioral practice observed in this age group, which represents a life-threatening tendency that negatively affects health and causes familial, emotional, occupational, and social problems. With the aim of sourcing comfort and maintaining a rebellious stance, substance abuse is a key motivator.

Young adults and adolescents share comorbidity of anxiety and mental illnesses, which is a consistent finding in various studies. Research indicates that communities severely affected by drug and substance abuse among adolescents engaging in these activities report numerous cases of psychiatric disorders ranking higher than those in the adult population (Rahman & Tripathi, 2016). Additionally, this group is also less responsive to treatment, poor prognoses, and greater functioning impairment that indicate chronic disabilities imposed by substance abuse. This section serves as a gap in the study of substance abuse and its relation to adolescence. This correlation presents the clinical aspect of social work aimed at reducing the incidences of substance abuse by adolescents (Sussman, Dent, & Galaif, 2014). With the inclusion of financial burden accosting adolescents suffering from disorders associated with the substance abuse further worsens their predicament exposing them to child abuse, neglect, violent crimes, AIDS, and unemployment.

Correlation to Clinical Social Work
The research has also validated the correlation between clinical social work and substance abuse since its involvement in providing primary service to the individuals affected. Potentially, social work has grown significantly over the decades, thus transforming it into a specialty practice section effective in caring for victims (Sussman et al., 2014). For this reason, there is an increasing demand for clinical social workers in providing treatment for patients with substance abuse disorders. In the modern-day setting, the clinical sociology scope has developed evidence-based practices for the effective treatment of substance abuse. In addition to this, social workers have become more expert in providing these practices in managing behavioral health clinics aimed at offering primary care services and rehabilitating drug addicts (Wells, Kristman-Valente, Peavy, & Jackson, 2013). Lastly, this field has been able to establish tailor-made practices for diverse groups of individuals struggling with substance use disorders, which enables the treatment to venture into multiple domains. As a result, a clinical social worker has a vital role in minimizing substance abuse in the adolescent group.

The repercussions of the substance abuse are devastating to the community affected. Further, the abhorrent behavior has weakened the societal moral fabric leading to the destruction of families, loss of lives, and lost productivity from the young generation. The adolescents encourage these behaviors despite perceiving drug abuse as life-threatening and risky. However, with most peer groups remaining obliged to act cool, this behavior is acceptable. With this understanding, adolescent substance abuse is a significant concern requiring extensive evaluation and resolutions (Wise, Cuffe, & Fischer, 2001). In this study, it is imperative to highlight indicators associated with the emotional/psychological well-being of adolescents as it concerns substance abuse. Moreover, the study predominantly elaborates from a micro-level analysis of substance use from an individual standpoint. That is why this paper sees the issue holistically, which considers the complex macro-level environment; however, this research has a limited scope because it focuses mainly on adolescents. Therefore, this factor primarily influences the information provided and places it in a cultural, social, and political context.

The research purposes include:
Relating psychological and emotional indicators to adolescent substance abuse
Establishing a relationship between the emotional well-being of groups divided by culture, age, and gender to substance abuse
Reporting on various Life Satisfaction Questionnaires within the American context and psychometric properties selected from the EQ inventory

Research Question
Is there a relationship between substance abuse and the psychological well-being of adolescents?
An adolescent is an individual aged between 10 and 19 years, according to the World Health Organization. Adolescence in itself is defined as a developmental period marking the commencement of puberty and the attainment of psychological maturity. Therefore, the focus will be on persons within this age bracket. Based on the literature reviewed so far, the null hypothesis of this study is:
H0- Substance abuse does not impart any significant effect on emotional well-being of adolescents

The alternative hypothesis states that:
H1- Substance abuse affects the emotional wellbeing through influencing behavior and psychological activity engaged by adolescents

Substance abuse is the excessive use and misuse of legalized substances, such as alcohol, prescribed medications, over-the-counter drugs, solvents, original plans, nicotine, alcoholic concoctions, and illicit drugs. The National Drug Master Plan provides this definition pointing to using any substance with the intention of modifying behavior, mood, perception, cognition or motor functionality (Wise et al., 2001). The primary focus of this research will consider any existing substance/s as their use by children or adolescents constitutes abuse. The rationality applied to this principle is the health implication whereby these substances expose adolescents to adverse effects due to the susceptibility of the central nervous system at this developmental stage. Secondly, substance abuse correlates with potential legal and behavioral problems, such as truancy and delinquency, which might compromise the future of an adolescent.

Several variables will be applied in the study to assure the reliability and authenticity of the experiment conducted. The questionnaire section will be regarding drug or alcohol use and sexual behavior. The application of self-reported behavioral conducts related to drug abuse will evaluate the uses of these substances. The asked questions will strictly adhere to these standards.

Age is a critical independent variable indicative of the maturity of the involved participants. The evaluation will include a demonstration of whether the frequency of substance abuse increases/decreased with age. The study will apply these metrics to different respondents of varying age groups. The second variable will be gender. The study will extensively explore the relationship between gender and adolescent substance abuse. The application of the chi-square test will elaborate the validity of any statistically significant patterns observed. The third independent variable is language and ethnicity. The groups evaluated are from Hispanic, African American, Chinese, and Caucasian ethnicities. Analyzing substance abuse based on this variable will indicate the relationship between these two components highlighting the group’s susceptibility to drug use. The respondents will provide this information for evaluation and compilation of the report. Some of the activities inquired include binge drinking, the use of LSD, alcohol, marijuana, and other illicit drugs. The study will analyze these behavioral patterns based on age, language/ethnic group, and gender.

The third variable will be life satisfaction measured based on Diener’s Life Satisfaction Scale. The results will indicate the overall influence of this variable on the likelihood of engaging in substance abuse. This variable will be dependent on independent variables including gender, alcohol use, drug use, age, language, ethnicity, and binge drinking. Lastly, on psychological well-being, the study will evaluate the dependent variable of the results derived from the Well-being Scale Questionnaire. Psychological well-being focuses on factorial components, such as problem-solving, self-regard, assertiveness, self-actualization, stress tolerance, happiness, independence, and reality testing. Another perspective considered in the study is the notion of experiencing pleasure, health, and prosperity, therefore, living a satisfactory life (Wise et al., 2001). Psychological well-being presents the state of high-level emotional adjustment prompting an individual to adopt an exemplary behavioral state assuring holistic health. The inclusion of this variable is imperative in illuminating the areas of difficulty experienced by adolescents that lead to their tendencies of substance abuse. The application of MANOVA, which serves as a relative platform for establishing the relationship of the biographical variables with psychological well-being, will be necessary as well.

The paper intended to assess the relationship between substance use and emotional well-being of adolescents. Since adolescence is a period of increased responsiveness to emotional experiences, these young individuals will reasonably use various drugs regularly, especially if they are readily available. Some of them may use drugs for enhancing emotional uplifts and others for relieving negative feelings. Based on this evaluation, the researcher will be able to deduce the overall relationship between the psychological well-being of an adolescent’s pre- and post-drug use further providing evidence on the existence of a correlation.

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Chakravarthy, B., Shah, S., & Lotifpour, S. (2013). Adolescent drug abuse – Awareness & prevention. Indian Journal of Med. Res., 137(6), 1021-1023.
Rahman, F., & Tripathi, V. (2016). Substance abuse among male adolescents in northern India. International Journal of Contemporary Pediatrics, 3(2), 495-497. doi:10.18203/2349-3291.ijcp20160837
Sussman, S., Dent, C. W., & Galaif, E. R. (2014). The correlates of substance abuse and dependence among adolescents at high risk for drug abuse. Journal of Substance Abuse, 9, 241-255. doi:10.1016/s0899-3289(97)90019-5
Wells, E. A., Kristman-Valente, A. N., Peavy, K. M., & Jackson, T. R. (2013). Social workers and delivery of evidence-based psychosocial treatments for substance use disorders. Social Work in Public Health, 28(3-4), 279-301. doi:10.1080/19371918.2013.759033
Wise, B. K., Cuffe, S. P., & Fischer, T. (2001). Dual diagnosis and successful participation of adolescents in substance abuse treatment. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 21(3), 161-165. doi:10.1016/s0740-5472(01)00193-3