Alcohol and Drugs Feuled Violence
The abuse of alcohol and other drugs use among the youth is common and costly. This behaviour destroys youth’s lives and is associated with health complications. Excessive and frequent abuse of alcohol and other substances is associated with other drugs which lead to addiction. Approximately, 90% of adult drug addicts begun alcohol and drug use in their adolescence (Barton & Husk, 2012). Most of the children smoke marijuana before they reach the age of 14 years. A number of them come from families with a history of drug abuse. It is estimated that 60-80% of youths have been diagnosed with psychosocial disorders and accounts for 66% of mortality among the youth in the USA (Forsyth, Khan, & Mckinlay, 2011).
The use of alcohol and drugs also negatively affect the various aspects of a person`s life. It negatively impacts their relationship with relatives and friends. The most significant aspect is alcohol and is the connection between drug use and violence. Alcohol is more closely linked to violent crimes such as rape, assault, and murder (Barton & Husk, 2012). In approximately three million violent incidences reports in the USA, the offenders are likely to be intoxicated. About 50% of homicides and assaults are committed by intoxicated offenders. Therefore, there is need to establish an effective program that will address the main cause of drug abuse in young people (Acheampong et al. 2015).
This paper provides a short overview of alcohol and drug use, its impacts, health promotion initiative that targets 16 to 25 years, the objective of the intervention and the methodology of the initiative. The paper also explores evaluation methods appropriate to evaluate the program’s impact indicators. This helps identify the strengths and limitations of the initiative proposed.
Context and Environment
According to CDC, more teens die from prescription drugs as compared to heroin and cocaine addiction. In 2013, 22.7 % of the high school seniors smoked marijuana and further 16.3% smoked cigarettes (Barton & Husk, 2012). The most common source of marijuana and morphine are from other people’s prescription. Approximately 60% of the youths do not perceive use of marijuana and regular use of steroid as harmful or leading agents of violent behaviour. About 50% of high school seniors think that it is not dangerous to try cocaine or marijuana twice. This indicates that most of the youths are misinformed on the impacts of drug abuse on their health and mental stability (Forsyth, Khan & Mckinlay, 2011).
Extensive studies have been done to evaluate the effectiveness of drug education programs in reduction of risky and alcohol behaviour. The aim of health promotion using education initiatives is that it has the ability to influence drug use behaviour by imparting knowledge. The knowledge and skills gained enables the youth to establish sound values in relation to drug use and their health. Schools setting are the ideal setting of promoting health education. This is because the youths spend most their time in school settings. In addition, the information will reach the targeted population (16-25 years) without discrimination or stigmatization without being primarily dependent of the families (CORREA, 2011).
Aims and objectives
The purpose of this study is to develop a strategic program to;
- Reduce drug use among the youths in the USA
- Reduce risk of violence among the youths in the USA
Background and rationale
In the wake of frequent school shootings over the past few years, prevention and treating of the teen violence has become the nation’s health promotion strategies. Healthy People 2010 have listed the following objectives for health promotion among the adolescents; a) reduction in carrying of weapons to school, b) attempted suicides, and c) physical fighting (Hove et al. 2010)
Nationwide reports that 33% of the adolescents are in physical fight. Approximately, 17% of them carry their weapons to school and further 9% get threatened or injured at school. About 10% of the youths have suffered in dating violence. Homicide and suicide are the leading cause of mortality among the 15-19 year old. Although the overall drug use among the youth has reduced, rates of prescribed medication have increased (Smyth, 2013).
Violence and drug use appear like they are mutually reinforcing. For instance, a youth carrying weapons around is likely to be using illicit drugs or consume alcohol. A significant proportion of the youths who use illicit drugs are likely to be violent. Substance use and violence are linked with victimization and suicide incidences. For example, reports indicate that female and males victims of sexual assaults are associated with binge drinking or illicit drug use. Similarly, being a victim of bullying, one is likely to engage in substance use and violent behaviour (Scribner et al. 2010).
The relationship between drug abuse and crime is complex as it is hard to understand if substance use makes people become violent or offenders are mentally ill. However, substance use and mental health are the key causatives factors for the numerous violent incidences. Curbing drug and alcohol use among the youths is one of the strategies targeted by the nation. Four of the seven Healthy people 2020 objectives of substance use and abuse aim at addressing the adolescent’s behaviours. The objective aims at ensuring that the percentage of the adolescents remains free from alcohol, illicit substances, steroids, and inhalants (Korcha et al., 2013).
Methodology of initiative
School based interventions have been widely implemented in middle schools. By comparison, there are only fewer interventions that have developed in high schools and tertiary institutions. The school setting is preferred because the youths between 16-25 years are still in school and spend 80% of their time in school environment. Therefore, schools are important places that can be used to implement the prevention programs that seek to eliminate the risk of engaging in drug use, violent activities and future delinquency. The school environment is an ideal place to provide knowledge and tools that can effectively reduce drug use among the youth (Melisa et al. 2010).
Project SUCCESS is a targeted preventive program. It is an acronym for Schools Using Coordinated Community Efforts to Strengthen Students). This is a program that is specifically designed for the youth population who are at high risk (16-25 years). This program involves placing of trained professionals in high school and colleges to provide education on risk factors associated with substance use and early intervention services. This program is effective in adolescents from the diverse economic backgrounds and multi-ethnic families. Evidence based studies indicates that Project SUCCESS reduces substance use among the high risk adolescents (Melissa et al. 2010).
This is attributable to the fact that the programs operate by establishing partnership between the stakeholders involved. For instance, a trained individual who has experience in providing substance abuse counselling to adolescent is recruited to work with the team as Project SUCCESS counsellor (PSC). The PSC is responsible of providing the adolescents with information on the impacts of substance use with the aim of providing an early intervention in order to offer protective factors that are associated with substance abuse. The program components include (Melissa et al. 2010);
a) Prevention Education Series; which is an eight training session on substance abuse and prevention conducted by PSC.
b) Individual and Group Counselling; which involves assessment of the adolescent identified as high risk. This is followed by a series of 8 to 12 time-limited training that can be done individually or as group sessions at school facility.
c) Parent Programs; project SUCCESS also integrates the adolescents parents to ensure that the parents are not enablers but collaborative partners in prevention of substance use.
d) Referral; the youths and parents that need further treatment are referred to intensive counselling to appropriate agencies within the community.
Outcome evaluation should be done to discover the impacts of project SUCCESS program on the targeted groups. To do so, focus group interviews will be done in order to evaluate if the youths have understood the impacts of drug use and if they were less likely to use drugs. The interview will also focus on how the youth felt about themselves, any improvements with their interaction with family and friends. The students’ parents and teachers working with the programme will also be interviewed to gather their views of the effect of the programme on the youths. Additionally, since the program is focused on the broader effects, local people (partners) will also be interviewed on their perspectives about the outcome (Rothman et al. 2011).
In my opinion, the great thing about evaluation is that it provides a range of knowledge collected from wide-range of sources, which helps understand if the intervention has been effective or not. A baseline assessment will be made in order to record the life of the target group before intervention. This is the starting point from which it will make it possible to evaluate the progress and achievement of the projects objectives. This will be achieved by distributing questionnaires and distributing them to a sample of school students with the aim of understanding the student’s awareness of effects of substance use and violence (Barton & Husk, 2012).
Strength and limitations of the intervention
The strength of this intervention is that it integrates analysis of needs assessment. This is because it helps identify the key issue or problem, the resources available and the prevailing gap. It also identifies the exact needs that require to be met in order to reduce the student’s risks to substance use, violence, and delinquency (Stenius, 2015). The main limitation for this program is that it overlooks measures such as socio economic status, social networks, self-esteem, and school performance, which are important in understanding the relationship between substance use and violent behaviour. Exploring the youth’s background is important as it helps identify the causatives factors. This is important as it facilitates the designing of an intervention that addresses the youth’s needs.
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