“The social norms approach uses a variety of methods to correct negative misperceptions, and identify, model, and promote the healthy, protective behaviors that are the actual norm in a given population” (2018). By sharing the healthy truth with adolescents can often times reduce alcohol and drug use. Most adolescents believed that their peers were more persuasive when it came to alcohol and drug use than they actually were. This led to the major use of drug and alcohol use among adolescents in our society.
Effect of substance use in an adolescent’s social norm
One major effect of substance use in an adolescent social norm is the fact that it could potentially effect their adulthood. “Existing studies have found a high correlation between adolescent abuse and becoming a problem drug user in adulthood is common concluding that drug abuse is starting at an earlier age” (Chakravarthy, Shah, and Lotfipour, 2013). If an adolescent is accustomed to a particular habit in the household, such as drug or alcohol use, then that is all they know growing up. They start to believe that this is the norm and do not know the difference. They may even try to get their peers to take part in their bad behaviors because they haven’t been educated otherwise. According to Erickson’s stages of development, the adolescent stage is the time where they begin to experiment with different lifestyles and is higher influenced by their peers. It is important education early, especially to at risk youth.
Three specific paths for substance use prevention
In order for substance use prevention to be successful for adolescents it must go do down specific paths. When a community adopts certain prevention programs to match their communities social norms, diversity, and needs it must contain particular factors. The first path is that it must be structured. How the program is constructed and organized will help with greater success. Next the content will play an important role in prevention. The information, skills, and strategies that are taught in the prevention programs will determine the effectiveness in preventing substance abuse. Lastly, the way the prevention program is delivered. How the program is adapted, implemented, and evaluated will help with prevention of substance use. Prevention programs should be long-term and repeated as needed. According to researchers it, “shows that the benefits from middle school prevention programs diminish without follow-up programs in high school” (2003). The earlier these programs are implemented, the better chance that substance abuse could be eliminated, as our youth gets older.
Prevention strategies for adolescent substance use
The abuse of drugs and alcohol among adolescents has become an epidemic in today’s society. For many years researchers have been trying to create prevention strategies to eliminate this international epidemic. “Prevention of substance abuse among adolescents requires awareness of characteristics that place youth at risk and targeting risk factors that are modifiable” (Chakravarthy, Shah, and Lotfipour, 2013). If people in the community, health workers, and families become aware of these risk factors they can identify what youths are at risk and assist them in a prevention/treatment program. In order for a prevention strategy to be effective it must include many key factors such as multiple risk and protective factors, material to help young people recognize and resist pressures to engage in drug use, and information relative to the target age group (Chakravarthy, Shah, and Lotfipour, 2013). In order for these prevention programs to be successful they should also be offered through the community, schools, healthcare community, and also with the families. One prevention strategy is family prevention programs. Children who are at higher risk of substance abuse are those who have parents with history of substance abuse, high levels of family conflict, and lack of parental guidance. These programs focus on eliminating risk factors and increase protective factors, increase family bonding, and help with parental skills. One particular program involved with family prevention programs is multi-dimensional family therapy (MDFT). It helps youth focus on creating better coping skills, problem-solving skills, and improve on family communication. Next there are school and community programs. These programs can start as early as preschool to address risk factors to help prevent substance abuse as an adult. One example of these programs is called Reconnecting Youth. This program is “a school-based prevention program for high school students with poor school achievement and a potential for not completing their education” (Chakravarthy, Shah, and Lotfipour, 2013). The main goals of this program are to reduce any drug use, increase school attendance, and learn to manage moods and emotions. Finally there is healthcare prevention. Pediatricians and primary care providers will now be diligent in identifying substance abuse symptoms and risk factors and assist with treatment.
In conclusion, the most important aspect of prevention programs is to start them at an early age. The earlier the education is provided, the better chances it will be to eradicate this drug and alcohol use epidemic. Those adolescents with high risk factors should be identified and begin prevention immediately. When an adolescent begins to believe that drug and alcohol use is the social norm they should immediately enter into a prevention or treatment program to prevent substance abuse as an adult.
Chakravarthy, B., Shah, S., & Lotfipour, S. (2013). Adolescent drug abuse – Awareness & prevention. The Indian Journal of Medical Research, 137(6), 1021–1023. Retrieved February 5, 2018 from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3734705/
Eisenberg, M. E., Toumbourou, J. W., Catalano, R. F., & Hemphill, S. A. (2014). Social Norms in the Development of Adolescent Substance Use: A Longitudinal Analysis of the International Youth Development Study. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 43(9), 1486–1497. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-014-0111-1
Mcleod, S. (2017). Erik Erickson. Retrieved February 4, 2018 from: https://www.simplypsychology.org/Erik-Erikson.html
Prevention Principles. (2003). Retrieved February 6, 2018 from: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/preventing-drug-abuse-among-children-adolescents-in-brief/prevention-principles
Social Norms Approach. (2018). Retrieved February 4, 2018 from: https://wellness.uchicago.edu/page/social-norms-approach
The Social Norms Approach to Student Substance Abuse Prevention. (2015). Retrieved February 4, 2018 from: http://www.hazeldenbettyford.org/education/bcr/addiction-research/social-norms-ru-915