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Exploring Effective Intervention Techniques for America’s Most Vulnerable

Exploring Effective Intervention Techniques for America’s Most Vulnerable

Preventing alcohol and drug addictions among teenagers is perhaps one of the most important missions within drug prevention community. This is because research has shown that early abuse of drugs and alcohol increase the likelihood of addiction as adults. There are, however, some groups of teenagers that may be more at risk than others. Studies have shown that teenagers living in rural areas and American Indian teenagers may have increased chances of developing an addiction to alcohol. Because of this, some researchers have begun to determine what intervention strategies are most effective on these groups.

Interestingly, American Indian teenagers and rural teenagers drink as much or at the same rate as teenagers in the rest of the country. However, they seem to be more likely to develop alcohol dependencies than other types of teenagers. This may be because of the lack of education and public funding to discourage against drinking.

So, in order to investigate this further, researchers gathered data given to them by the Cherokee Nation. From this information, researchers developed two plans of attack that seemed to garner the best results in diminishing teenage alcohol consumption rates.

The first plan was centered around the community. Organizers from the Cherokee tribe and researchers created a program to be implemented in schools throughout the reservation. Social workers, trained by the researchers, spent time with each teenager, asking a series of questions related to alcohol and drug consumption. Any teenager exhibiting behavior indicative of alcohol abuse would then be referred for further counseling. This more individualized plan was the second line of attach that the researchers developed. One on one counseling allows the teenager to speak freely and without the judgement of their peers or even their teachers. According to the study results the new strategies are showing some promise. Surveys conducted by the researchers show that students who received either the community-based interview, or the individualized therapy were reporting less alcohol consumption than before.

“This study is one of the largest alcohol prevention trials ever conducted with an American Indian population, and the first to demonstrate the effectiveness of screening and brief counseling intervention in significantly reducing youth alcohol. use at a community level,” explained NIAAA Director, George F. Koob.

Early Intervention Vital Before Addiction Worsens

Early Intervention Vital Before Addiction Worsens

Oftentimes addiction is most painful for friends and family of the addict. They are forced to witness the downward spiral of their loved one, while the addict is avoiding reality with drugs and/or alcohol. The feelings of hopelessness and helplessness can be overwhelming and many people struggle with the making the right decisions on how to best handle the addict. This question is not unique to families struggling with addiction, in fact, researchers are asking the same thing. What is the best way to intercept an addict before the addiction gets out of control?

According to recent studies, the best thing for family members to do when their loved one is struggling with addiction is to intervene. The pressures that a family member or close friend can place on the addict are oftentimes much more powerful than the law, or threat of danger that drugs or alcohol pose. This is because the addict often relies on loved ones for monetary or emotional support. The report also suggests that medical professionals can step into this role as well.

Many emergency rooms and doctor’s offices have begun implanting drug screening questions to determine if a patient is struggling with addiction. These questions can be as simple as asking if they have abused drugs recently, or if they feel they have a problem with a certain substance. If the patient answers “yes” to any of these questions, the medical professional is trained to educate them on their options and provide resources for different treatment alternatives.

“Brief intervention refers to any time-limited effort, maybe one or two conversations or meetings, to provide information or advice, increase motivation to avoid substance abuse, or to teach behavior change skills that will reduce substance abuse as well as the chances of negative consequences,” explained Thomas Babor, researchers in UConn Health’s Department of Community Medicine and Health Care.

Originally, these medical interventions were restricted to just alcohol abusers, but they have expanded to include anyone who is abusing a substance that can be dangerous to him or her. This simple step has proven to be effective in helping addicts get help before they succumb even more to drugs or alcohol. Families and loved ones can also gently suggest help or provide resources as well.

Is Random Drug Testing a Good Approach?

Is Random Drug Testing a Good Approach?

Random Drug Testing to Start at a Middle School

Middle schoolers in Lacey Twp, New Jersey, will be asked to submit to random drug tests starting in January 2017. Superintendent Craig Wigley said he expects that about 700 of the school’s 1,000 students are expected to participate in the program.

This initiative is noteworthy, since these types of efforts are not usually directed at such young people. Parents must enroll their seventh and eighth graders in the program, which is voluntary.

Consequences for Failing Drug Tests

The consequence for failing a random drug test would be removal from sports and extracurricular activities for 10 days. Failing a test a second time would mean a 45-day suspension from these activities. Failing a test a third time would mean a longer suspension.

Students who fail a drug test would be sent for counseling. Parents would be informed, and they would be given additional drug tests.

New Jersey Drug Death Statistics

The idea for having students undergo drug testing stems from a desire to curb the epidemic of drug use affecting the country. Since 2012, Ocean County, drug death rate has more than tripled. Approximately 180 people have died in the county in 2016 due to drug overdoses. The pattern has repeated itself across The Garden State, where deaths attributed to drug overdoses have increased by 16 percent between 2014-2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The program will be modeled after a similar drug testing program used in Lacey Township High School. In it, students who would like to participate in extracurricular activities, attend dances, play sports or park on school property must agree to undergo random drug testing.

The drug testing will be conducted by School Safe Testing Service. The Powell, Ohio, company has already billed Lacey Township School District more than $10,000.00 since January 2016 for its services.

AAP Against Drug Testing on Adolescents

It is unclear if this will be a thorough deterrent or form of intervention. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has gone on record against random drug testing in schools. The Academy has stated that there is a lack of evidence that these programs work and that there are few positive test results found among students. The Academy has questioned whether drug testing is wise, given the limited amount of funds available for school resources. It felt that a better use of available money would be to provide counseling and support to students identified as having drug problems.

Economic Interventions Needed to Reduce Substance Abuse

Economic Interventions Needed to Reduce Substance Abuse

Transitioning from teenager to young adult has always been tricky. Gone are the days where the biggest concerns were friends and school. Young adults are expected to work, save money, pay bills and make adult decisions. However, the current climate in the United States has made it difficult for young adults to flourish and transition into adulthood. The economy has not quite recovered and millions of young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 are unemployed. This unemployment problem has contributed to more young adults to commit crimes, develop substance abuse problems and enter into the prison system.

“These young people are missing key educational and employment experiences and are at increased risk for a host of negative outcomes: long spells of unemployment, poverty, criminal behavior, substance abuse, and incarceration,” explained a recent report released by the Brookings Institute.

This research seems to be at odds with the fact that there are more teenagers graduating from high school and more young adults graduating from college than ever before. However, when they are unable to secure reliable employment, temptations like drugs and alcohol, become harder to stay away from, and various forms of interventions are needed. These interventions aren’t just for those who become addicted, but also to help prevent others from getting addicted. Having more responsibilities in life and feeling more self-worth due to meaningful contribution helps to remove some of the stressors and triggers for possible substance abuse.

Often times drug abuse and alcohol abuse stem from experimentation. Experts agree that this experimentation can either be avoided or minimized with increased responsibilities. However, young adults who are unable to find jobs do not have that added responsibility and often spend their days being idle. It has long been understood in the addiction treatment and prevention field that boredom is a major factor in early drug use.

In order to conduct the study, researchers poured over data gathered from the Census Bureau. Information from 2008 – 2014 showed that youths were more likely to be unemployed in the future if they do not receive important educational and work experiences. One way to avoid future substance abuse problems, unemployment and criminal activity is to ensure that children and teenagers are given ample opportunity to acquire more life skills.

Despite the difficulty many face, there seems to be more actual opportunity, just not in the traditional sense. There are more ways than ever for people to be self-employed and earn a nice living through online mediums, for example. Skills to survive in today’s economy would be a much-needed intervention for life as a whole, because there are fewer jobs available today that have pensions or other retirement plans than those of just a couple generations ago.