. Ann B. Bruner; Marc Fishman. Jama, Journal Of The American Medical Association Essay, Research Paper
Bruner, A., & Fishman, M. Adolescents and Illicit Drug Use. The Journal of the American Medical Association, August 19, 1998, v280 n7 p597.
This article discusses the increase in illicit drug use by adolescents between the ages of 12 – 17. The topics discussed range form the types of drugs which are increasingly being abused (methamphetemine, heroin, cocaine and LSD) to the trends in the increased use of the more widely abused drugs (marijuana, alcohol and tobacco).
Starting with a comparison between Plano, Texas (population 180,000; median family income, $54,000) just north of Dallas, to Fairfax County, Virginia (population 900,000; median household income, $70,000) where parents equally wonder How could this happen to our children? The evidence reporting that the statistics are rising everywhere, no matter the population or the family income. The article then moves in to the discussion of how the most used substances are showing alarming increases ion abuse, especially by younger adolescents. The percentage of 8th graders using marijuana in 1997 had increased three times over the 1991 rate. Although marijuana is certainly less toxic than many other drugs, there is a popular notion that it is harmless. This information is false, marijuana has a direct effect on short-term memory and other cognitive functions. Trends, or the growth in use of harder, more illicit drugs has been noticed, with the number of heroin abusers rising from 68,000 in 1993 to 216,000 in 1996, a staggering increase. Also jolting is the increase in adolescent use of heroin, which has doubled since 1991. Twenty percent of 8th graders report that heroin is readily available to them. These numbers are even more startling when you couple them with the increase in the purity of the drug, which has gone from less than 5% to between 80% – 90% in the last 25 years. Methamphetamine have become the drug of choice for teens wanting a stimulant, especially for all night parties (raves). Inhalants, as well, have also increased in abuse among teens, because of their availability.
The article then discusses how society, health care professionals and parents should try to address this overwhelming growth in adolescent drug use. The suggestion is around more research which will propose better prevention, diagnosis and treatment. The prevention component is addressed by President Clinton and his Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Since ONDCP has made drug use and prevention its priority, there have been many new public campaigns brought about supporting the youngsters who are at risk for substance abuse.
With the realization that drug use by an adolescent can be experimental, at what point is it determined that there is in fact drug abuse taking place? Focus is shifted to when the experimentation starts to become an impairment. The article then briefly touches on the availability of home drug test kits, which work, but put a strain on the problem of parental monitoring and family discussion. If a parent determines their child needs treatment the proper source of treatment must be found. Adolescent substance abusers require a wider scope of services, including family intervention, mental health care, remedial education and community outreach. Alas, these services are scarce. The population of adolescent substance abusers is vastly undeserved, despite the fact that this number has increased. To make matters worse, managed health care has hindered the quality of these programs and their ability to be available. The programs will only be supported if healthcare organizations see need for them. And due to lack of adolescent addictions outcomes research, data indicates that those programs which do exist are effective.
Adolescent substance abuse is present and a continuous problem in the United States. Drugs are less expensive and more available than ever before. Needed are more effective drug use prevention programs, more accessible programs and more substance abuse educational programs at younger ages.
I think this what interested me about this article was how informative an full of facts it was. It effectively sections off a particular subject, adolescents and illicit substance abuse, and makes the reader an informed reader. Although this article doesn t paint a pretty picture, it does give the helping professional the ammunition they need to continue the battle for increased substance abuse programs and education. The responsibility of the helping professional is to provide support and effective treatment to those individuals who need it, especially when they are children.