Predictors of Adolescent Alcohol and other Drug Involvement
Alcohol and other drugs pose troubles to users themselves and community. The effects that are related to drug abuse include increased likelihood of accidents, fights, mental disorders, unnecessary health costs, deteriorating health status, and poor activity performance, to name a few. There are several factors which predispose an individual to take alcohol and other drugs during adolescence stage. Personality, genetics, and environment characteristics are some of the major determinants to alcohol and other drug usage amongst adolescents.
Predictors of adolescent drug and alcohol use are multidimensional; they can be peer-related, family-related, and an individual-related. Family plays an important role in shaping the lifestyle of a child; this lifestyle covers even the usage of drugs which include marijuana, cigarettes and alcohol. Family-related risk variables are improper behavior models, which include parents who take alcohol and other drugs, are likely to bring up children who will follow the footsteps of parents. Additionally, siblings in the family unit who use alcohol and other drugs are likely to introduce their brothers and sisters to drug abuse practices. Parents are charged with responsibility to bring up children in a manner that promotes their wellbeing later in their lives. The law and ethics empowers the parents to protect children from accessing drugs. Thus, in case children take drugs due to the parental incompetence, parents can be held responsible.
Peer influence significantly contributes to drug usage among adolescent children (Fahnhorst & Winters, 2005). The factor of peer influence has been dubbed "peer pressure" due to its palpable effect on drug usage among people who are almost at the similar level of education or age. This social influence may predict the decision to be made by an adolescent. Adolescents who associate themselves with their peers who engage in drug usage activities are at a greater risk of participation in alcohol and other drugs use. There is a lesser risk for an adolescent to engage in drug abuse in cases where there is limited association with the peers who engaged themselves in drug and alcohol usage activities. Peers in most of the cases engage in drug abuse practices in social places and institutions. Laws should be enforced that would bar abuse of drugs in social places. Managers of the specific social places should have classified abuse of drugs at their places by teenagers as a wrongdoing.
Personality traits can predict whether an adolescent will engage in alcohol and drug use or not. Children, who are impulsive, can tolerate non-compliance to societal expectations, have inadequate life coping skills and stress, are prone to drug abuse (Gaol, 2014). These children can be prevented from indulging into drug abuse throughprofessional counseling. However, ethical standards ought to be observed, including confidentiality and allowing a client to give consent before counseling services are commenced.
Adolescent Predictors of Generalized Health Risk in Young Adulthood
Approximately 1.3 million youth died in 2012, and majority of the deaths were contributed by road traffic accidents (Grunbaum et al., 2004). Other causes of death amongst the adolescence included HIV/AIDS, suicide and interpersonal violence. There are underlying factors which can predict unfavorable health amongst the adolescents. Risky sexual behaviors, engaging in drug and alcohol abuse, and victimization are modifiable factors that influence the adolescents' health (Bogart, Collins,Ellickson, & Klein, 2006). Identifying the variables that influence health risk behavior is vital because it provides the basis for mitigation and control.
Personal and environmental factors determine five psychosocial health problems. These particular shortcomings include risk for HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases, alcohol abuse, criminal victimization, and difficulty regarding drug use (Bogart et al., 2006). The personal and environmental predictors can be classified as family-, individual- and peer-related.
Family-related variables are likely to influence an adolescent's tendency to engage in health risks behavior. Children, who are exposed to poor parental monitoring and guidance, have a greater risk of engaging in health risk behaviors which may refer to unprotected sexual intercourse, alcohol intake and other drugs abuse, along with violence. Children, who are brought up by a single parent, are predisposed to risk health behaviors later in life (Popenoe, 2009). These two risk variables are due to parental issues. Parents ought to guide children and protect them from health risk behaviors through parental monitoring and discipline. Parents should also act as good role models to their children.
Peer groupings and peer pressure have been shown to influence behavior among the adolescents. Adolescents who participate in health risk behaviors are likely to influence their peers either directly or indirectly. Youth are at risk of smoking, drinking, taking marijuana and other drugs if their peers are doing so. Adolescents, who see themselves as different from the rest of their peers, are likely to indulge themselves in drug abuse later in life (Bogart et al., 2006). Parental care should include creating awareness to their children about the peers and friends they should associate with.
Individual or personality features can be a predisposing factor to health risk behavior. Adolescents who are rebellious and do not want to conform to societal norms and expectations are likely to get involved in health risk behaviors that encompass violence, assault, risky sexual behaviors, and drug abuse, to name a few. The other factor is age; the age at which an individual started taking drugs play a key role. For instance, those who embarked on drug abuse, e.g. cigarette smoking, before age 12 were likely to progress later to drug independence (Fahnhorst & Winters, 2005). Also, Fahnhorst and Winters (2005) observed that exposure to drug abuse before age 12 was likely to lead to psychiatric disorders later in life. Limiting financial accessibility and ensuring that the adolescent children are under confines of parental and school authority will be better ways of managing drug abuse.
Alcohol, other drug abuse practices, and engagement in risk health behaviors are interrelated concepts which have become problematic to the public health. The identification of predictor factors and the study of how they influence alcohol intake, other drug usage, and health risk behaviors would provide a framework for curbing the drug use and limiting health risk behaviors among the adolescents.
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