Adolecent Drug Use Essay, Research Paper
As adolescent mature, they encounter variety of problems that are foreign to them. Whether these dilemmas can be resolved depend greatly on individuals’ mental state, such as the ability to think and reason. A major concern in adolescent psychology is ways adolescent response to drug use. In past and present society, drugs are known to be a common way of dealing with such problems. While drugs are mostly used to cope with everyday situations, a major part of adolescents’ initiation to drugs is based on curiosity. To this extent, Huba and Bentler (1980), Kovach and Glickman (1986) conducted different experiments to explore the determinants of adolescent drug use.
Huba and Bentler (1980) conducted two questionnaires, which were completed by 1634 students ranging from seventh to ninth grade in the greater area of metropolitan Los Angeles. The objective of these surveys is to determine the difference between peer and adult influences on the initiation of adolescent drug usage. In the first survey, they selected four dependent variables (beer and wine, liquor, marijuana, and pills such as tranquilizer and hallucinogens) and the consumption frequency of each substance used was recorded. Individual responses were then coded into a five point scale (1 = never tried, 2 = only once, 3 = a few times, 4 = many times, 5 = regularly). Each participant also completed a questionnaire about his or her interaction with parents and peers. Three themes emerged after analyzing the data collected.
Because adolescents tend to rationalize their drug behavior by claiming friends and adults also use drugs to release stress, their perception in the number of peer and adult models of drug use have increased. To support their assumption, the result showed that there is a linear increase in the number of drug users between adolescents’ self-perceptive figure and actual statistical figure at different age level (Huba & Bentler, 1980). The second proposition of their research stated that the correlation between the variety of drug use and age group are positive. For instance, drugs such as tranquilizers are more difficult to acquire for young adolescents, their use may be initiated at later age. Hence, the drug use diversity percentage is lower in early adolescent, rather than in the middle and late adolescent. The third theme that came about in their research is the correlation between self-use and peer use of drugs, are higher than self-use and adult use of drugs. As these groups develop both mentally and physically, they weight their relationship with peers more heavily than with adults. This conclusion results in an easier adaptation of peer behavior than of adult, such as parent behavior. From their research, Huba et al. (1980) concluded that both peer and adult models exert strong influences on the initiation of adolescent drug usage.
Similar to Huba and Bentler, Kovach and Glickman (1986) performed a more in depth interview with high school students in Philadelphia to evaluate the relationship between psychosocial factors and adolescent drug use. They interviewed 480 students from two high schools, where the population diversity and economic status were in contrast with each other. Students were classified as either a drug user (who consume illicit drugs in the past year) or a non-user (who did not consume drug or alcohol in the past year). Questions such as race, religion, medical/legal history, and parental martial status were the topics of the interview. Students also completed a questionnaire which consisted of seven standard psychological scales including “Reason for Using Drug and Alcohol Checklist” (kirk, 1979), and the “Brief Symptom Inventory” (DeRogatis, 1977). After these surveys have been completed, the scores were then converted into a scale called “The Drug Severity Index”, which measure the severity of drug abuse by each participant. After examining the result, one theme became apparent in the research.
The correlation between an adolescents’ social environment and the severity of drug use is positively related. Social environment such as peer and family relationship can influence the motivation and the amount of drug use by an adolescent greatly. In their research, drug users reported significantly more family crisis and conflict with parents than the non-users. In fact, drug users scored fifty percent higher than non-users in negative family activities such as stealing from family member, and misleading sibling (Kovach & Glickman, 1986). Peer relation is also found to be crucial in influencing adolescents. Peer culture can alter adolescent perception considerably. In their report, drug users estimated that almost eighty-four percent of all students use marijuana and fifty-six percent use other types of drugs, which was higher than the actual figure provided by the Institute for Social Research on the national high school senior survey (Kovach & Glickman, 1986). Thus, not only peer pressure, but also pressure from their self-perception will increase the initiation and severity to drug use. The personality and interpersonal problems will also increase the frequency in adolescent drug use. The problems adolescents’ have include running away from home, having difficulties in school, and having a criminal history will aggregate their emotions. When they cannot cope with these problems, they choose drugs as a method to “escape from reality”, which is an immature way to avoid problems. The Beverly-Grant Maturity Scale supported this finding, where drug users were measured as significantly less mature than non-user (Kovach & Glickman, 1986). In conclusion, Kovach et al. (1986) found that the psychosocial environment is an important determinant in adolescent drug habit.
After their research findings, it is important to recognize the significance of both peer and family influences on an adolescent, whereas positive relationship can greatly reduce the initiation and degree of drug use in adolescents. But we cannot ignore other factors such as school, personality and adolescents’ behavior. These variables will either directly or indirectly affect the adolescents’ emotional state, which leads the adolescent into drug abuse if not treated properly. Although recent researches show that self-esteem is not strongly related to the severity of drug use (Lettieri and Ludford, 1981), individuals with low self-esteem will certainly have a higher drug motivation. Therefore, social program should also focus on the importance of self-esteem in conjunction with drug abuse treatment.