Adolescent Substance Use And Abuse Essay, Research Paper
Using the readings as reference, discuss the developmental issues that would influence how you as a counselor would work with adolescents in the following categories:
Early Adolescence 12-14 years old (approx.)
Middle Adolescence 14 – 15
Late Adolescence 16 – 19+
How would you design your treatment given where an adolescent is developmentally?
Early Adolescence 12-14 years old (approx.)
Adolescents biologically experience the onset of puberty and the development of secondary sexual characteristics; cognitive changes that include the capacity to think abstractly, reason logically, and to develop metacognitive which leads to introspection.
Socially, early adolescents increase peer prominence, with some residual parental reliance, often seeking out older peers as models for behavior and values; begin to determine personal interests and skills; shift from childlike ways of interacting toward adult behaviors; and with success increase their self-esteem and confidence.
Early adolescents should spend more time in individual counseling than in group counseling sessions. Programs for reinforcement should include parental involvement, but the adolescent should have the bulk of responsibility. Positive peer experiences should be a part of the program including peer counseling and peer feedback programs, when appropriate. Social skills training with adolescents having difficulty forming peer association is recommended and as peer involvement increases social problem solving skills training should be provided in group settings.
Middle Adolescence 14 to 16 (approx)
The age of 14 to 16 brings an enormous change in physical and psychological development. Throughout adolescence, girls remain about two years ahead of boys in their level of maturity. Some adolescents bloom early, and some bloom late, each having a different psychological challenge. Early bloomers may be expected to perform with individuals of their size, where late bloomers suffer from the problems of self-esteem that result from looking more immature than their peers.
Adolescents of this age group experience a great deal of conflict and they often blame the outside world for their discomfort. As they struggle to develop their own identity, dependence upon parents gives way to a new dependence upon peers. The adolescent struggles to avoid dependence and may depreciate parents. Adolescents at this state are particularly vulnerable to people they would love to emulate. The development of a self-concept is crucial at this stage. The adolescent must explore his own morals and values, questioning the accepted way of society and family in order to gain a since of self. They make up their own mind about who they are and what they believe in. They must reassess the facts that were accepted during childhood, and accept, reject, or modify these societal norms as their own. The here and now thinking of earlier childhood gives way to a new capacity for abstract thought. These adolescents may spend long periods abstractly contemplating the “meaning of life” and “who am I.”
Substance abuse treatment should involve parents on a different level than with early the early adolescent. Therapists may want to educate parents to understand the middle adolescents’ separation and individuation, which is intended to facilitate their acceptance of the process as normal. Parental acceptance of the adolescents’ developmental process has been shown to bring positive outcomes. The middle adolescents need to be independent from their parents, and to exercise their capacity to reason and question on a more sophisticated level must be recognized in treatment in order to be effective. Accepting parents are more likely to accept the need for all family member to be included in the therapeutic process. Much of the treatment process with middle adolescents should take place in group setting, utilizing the natural developmental process of orientation toward peers. Group process might include exercises in perspective taking, and an atmosphere providing direct and immediate feedback.
Late Adolescence 16-19 (approx)
The physical distinctions of approaching adulthood require numerous psychological adjustments; in particular the development of how one views self in relation to others. The vast majority of adolescents attain their adult size and physical characteristics by the age of eighteen and the earlier differences between early and late bloomers are no longer evident. The process of abstract thinking changes along with physical development, becoming more complex and refined. Late adolescents are less bound by concrete thinking. A sense of time emerges where the individual can recognize the difference between past, present and future. They can adopt a future orientation that leads to the capacity to delay gratification. The individual develops a sense of equality with adults.
Self-certainty and an internal structure develop while teen’s experiment with different roles. By age nineteen, most adolescents are considering occupational choices and have begun to develop intimate relationships.
Determining the appropriate level of treatment for an adolescent is no small task. In addition, to factors normally considered when placing an individual in treatment for a substance use disorder, such as severity of substance use, cultural background, and presence of coexisting disorders, treatment programs must also examine other variables such as age, level of maturity, and family and peer environment when working with adolescents. Once these factors are assessed and the problems are understood, the treatment program can then match the adolescent with the proper type of treatment.