Addiction is a rapidly growing issue impacting today’s society. Unfortunatly, there are many different types of addictions and each one brings along a unique set of challenges. The American Phsychiatic Association describes addiction as “a complex condition, a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequence”.
Drug addictions hinder and restrain people from everyday life events, dreams, accomplishments, and the relationships they have with friends and family members. A common and often repetitive problem related to substance abuse is the issue of peer influence and peer pressure on experimenting with the use of illegal and prescription drugs. The negative influences of peer pressure may promote drug use which can further lead to addictive behavior, not just to one drug, but multiple combinations of drugs. Both social and economic factors, lead to substance abuse and many negative issues such as losing your job, friends, family and your purpose in life, these are all potential issues that may occur if one’s addiction is not dealt with in time.
Therefore, preventive measures need to be taken to address substance abuse and to prevent future generations from falling prey to the circulating drugs present in our society today. This paper will determine how the social and economic influences put adolescents at risk for developing an addiction to substances, it will also develop possible solutions and strategies to prevent addictive behaviors from forming, as well as strategies that can address and prevent drug problems in Canada. Drug problems need to be resolved and addressed now before they continue to further create negative factors for the people in Canadian society.
Social and economic influences on adolescents
The social determinants of health are both social and economic factors and conditions that influence individuals and groups within today’s society based on one’s geographical location, work type, economic class, heritage, age and availability to healthcare. The social determinants of health, therefore, are important in shaping and determining whether individuals especially adolescents, are vulnerable to drugs and substance abuse. Addictive behaviors can form at any age, and some people may be more vulnerable than others, nonetheless, a person’s social and economic environment can greatly affect their mental opinions and choices on drugs. In ‘Close Encounters with Addiction’, Gabor Mate discusses the close association between Attention Deficit Disorders (ADHD) and addictions, especially amongst children. Mate states that “from adolescence onward, people with ADHD are at elevated risk for addiction to cocaine and other stimulants” (Mate, 2008, p. 415), children with disorders such as ADHD or addictive personalities, may suffer more from social and economic influences in their environment. Children with ADHD or addictive personalities that try drugs whether due to peer influences or curiosity, may become addicted to the drug on their first try, significantly faster than others would. It is cases like these that add to the increasing list of substance abusers in Canada, therefore solutions and strategies must prevent addictive behaviors be addressed and discussed.
Furthermore, adolescents with parents that are substance abusers also face higher risks of subconsciously following their parent’s drug-related choices. In ‘Addicted’, Marnie Woodrow’s story “My Father, Myself” is a perfect example of a daughter who has been influenced by her father’s alcohol addiction. Her father’s story showcases how important the social determinants of health are concerning drugs. Woodrow’s father drank to relieve the problems in his life as a means for escape and comfort, she has picked up his bad habits and takes every opportunity she gets to indulge herself in all sorts of alcohol. Woodrow’s story showcases the significance of alcohol and any drug as a matter of fact, as something that can easily influence a child, teenager, or adult in the choices they make when related to drugs. That being said, the social and economic components in society and our lives, are major influencers in the choices and decisions people make concerning drugs. However, neurological aspects also contribute to the cycle of “addiction” as they rewire the brain to being dependent on the drug, but it is not the main contributor, nevertheless, it can greatly affect those who are more vulnerable to addictions. The next heading will discuss solutions and strategies to prevent addictive behaviors from forming in people of all ages.
Solutions and strategies to prevent addictive behaviors
Now that we are aware that we are influenced by our social and economic environments, as well as by the people around us and the closet to us, I will address solutions and strategies that cater to different drugs to prevent addictive behaviors to the fullest extent. Environmental factors such as peer pressure, stress, physical and sexual abuse, and dysfunctional families can influence people to resort to drug abuse for comfort and a sense of longing. A positive solution for people struggling with physical and sexual abuse would be to seek immediate counseling for guidance and help, to prevent those who have been abused from abusing drugs to escape their mental and physical trauma. To prevent addictive behaviors, programs need to cater and be relatable to the groups they are targeting.
The most common form of substance abuse prevention programs is accomplished through two principal strategies. Levinthal (2012) describes these two principles as the promotion of constructive lifestyles and norms that discourage substance abuse, and the development of social and physical environments that can aid people in drug-free lifestyles to prevent substance-abuse behaviors. That being said, to prevent addictive behaviors, young children and teenagers need to be taught early on by their parents and schools about drugs and why you need to say no. I think teaching children about drugs at a young age can significantly reduce the number of future substance abusers and addictive behaviors.
Peer pressure is the social influence that can greatly affect people, especially children, and teenagers, who fall prey to the negative influences of friends and classmates that surround them. Peer pressure along with the idea that drugs are cool certainly contributes to the common usage of drugs such as alcohol, tobacco, weed and other substances commonly used by teenagers. Therefore, schools need to promote positive social skills to teach children and teenagers how to say no regardless of the situation. These programs need to take into perspective the social and economic factors present in a young person’s life to incorporate positive and protective factors to prevent drug use.
The promotion of positive social skills and the encouragement of protective factors concerning drug-taking behavior and other forms of deviant behavior. Successful primary prevention programs are built around the central idea that an individual is less inclined to engage in substance abuse if the protective factors in his or her life are enhanced and the risk factors are diminished. Only then can a young person be resilient enough to overcome the temptations of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.