Adolescent Substance Use Screening Instruments Term Paper

Pages: 53 (14685 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Sports - Drugs

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[. . .] " (Zoccolillo et al., 1999) Thus, the AAOD student is at a clear disadvantage in terms of successfully completing a high-school diploma and moving on to a career-oriented post-secondary education.

Additionally, high school is generally also a milieu in which the adolescent learns other non-academic life skills, including mature means of relating to peers and supervisors, responsible treatment of deadlines and priorities, and the perspective-broadening value of sports and other extracurricular interests.

Absenteeism limits the opportunities for acquiring such skills, and even while attending, the AAOD student in all likelihood will not maximize the chance to participate in meaningful relationships and activities. Playing sports while drunk or stoned, or both, obviously also risks serious injury for the student and his or her teammates.

At its most extreme, alcohol and drug use constitutes a threat to the life of the adolescent. "Seventy-five percent of all deaths among persons ages 15 to 24 are attributed to four causes: motor vehicle crashes, 35%; other unintentional injuries, 10%; homicides, 17%; and suicides, 13%...Among 15- to 17-year-olds involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes in 1989, 19% had been using alcohol at the time of, or shortly before, the crash." (Blanken, 1993) Also, obviously, the impaired driver is not always the victim of the crash; other young passengers, as well as innocent other parties, may be killed or horribly injured through the actions of the drunk and/or stoned driver.

The possibility of drug overdose or death from alcohol poisoning during binge drinking, or a combination, is a real one, especially given inexperience with the substances, peer pressure and the relatively smaller body size of some adolescents. Also, sharing needles can lead to hepatitis or to the contraction of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The latter, as well as various sexually transmitted diseases, can result from promiscuous sex, indulged in while under the influence, as judgement is impaired and inhibitions suppressed. Unprotected sex is also a means of acquiring money or drugs, and accounts for other STD occurrences.

Unwanted pregnancies are the result of these activities as well, with the risk to the mother of one more pressure to drop out of school, and with the danger to the baby of fetal alcohol syndrome, mental retardation or death. (Blanken, 1993)

Use of hard drugs, especially cocaine, can result in disability or death due to myocardial infarctions and strokes. Speed and ice affect brain chemistry, and hallucinogens such as PCP and LSD can induce psychotic symptoms. Anabolic steroids can trigger aggression, mood swings and insomnia, as well as elevating blood pressure. Prolonged use of Anabolic steroids can produce severe acne, stunted growth, cardiovascular and liver disease.

Alcohol itself, over the long-term, is associated with liver disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease and neurological damage (Blanken, 1999). Prolonged use may result in dementia, blackouts, seizures and hallucinations; it also affects the immune, endocrine and reproductive functions.

Tobacco use, although legal after a certain age, is known to lead to a number of health problems including, but not limited to, emphysema and cancer; marijuana smoke has the same deleterious qualities, exacerbated by the practice of retaining the fumes as long as possible in the lungs, and by the absence of a filter.

Controlled substances ("designer drugs") can also lead to health problems. Ecstasy has demonstrated neurotoxic effects; Vicodin can cause liver damage and failure, hallucinations and severe confusion, and coma or death.

Inhalants include solvents, aerosols, anesthetics and volatile nitrites, and can cause brain damage, death, and injury to the liver and kidneys.

The unfortunate fact is that most adolescents who use one of the above substances may combine its use with that of one or more of the others, thus multiplying the chances of harm. Additionally, many AAOD cases also involve co-occurring psychiatric problems such as depression, anxiety, antisocial personality disorder, and ADHD. Eating disorders are common, either due to neglecting the diet or as a means of attempting to deal with body-image problems.

Depression and anxiety, in concert with the use of drugs and alcohol, have been seen to inspire suicide attempts.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimated in 1993 that of approximately 9.3 million young Americans, 46% have used alcohol, and 4 million have used illegal drugs. More of American youth are believed to use drugs than in any other industrialized nation.

Quite apart then from the tragic results to the adolescent himself or herself, is the impact on society as a whole. Drug-related crimes burden an already heavily-laden judicial system, and threaten the security of everyone. Substance use leads to homelessness and vagrancy, as well as actual criminal acts. The increased volume of health problems of the users stresses the health care services, and leads to lost productivity from parents as well, who may be forced to take time off from work to deal with an emergency. Schools find their time taken away from hard-working students in order to deal with the behavior of AAOD-inspired problems.

Constellation of Symptoms Making Up AAOD

Warning signs that a youth is using alcohol or other drugs may be dramatic or subtle. In some cases, the first indication is a brush with the law or expulsion from school, or, even more seriously, an accident. In general, however, there are numerous symptoms, the presence of any of which may indicate an incipient problem.

Physical indications can be as self-evident as a smell of alcohol or marijuana on the adolescent's person or clothing. Other signs are bloodshot eyes and use of eyedrops to hide the redness. The youth may complain of pains or illness consistent with the flu - nausea, headache, trembling, lethargy. He or she may appear to take medications to an unusual extent. The main hint of a problem is a substantive change in habits: sleeping more or less than usual, eating more or less than before, change in weight, memory lapses, and other new actions or conditions.

Although mood swings are not unusual in teenagers, extreme fluctuations are indicators of serious problems, especially if there is talk of suicide, an attitude of hopelessness or burnout, or violently aggressive talk or actions. Suddenly acting either far too mature or extremely immature are symptoms of emotional difficulties.

Constant requests for money or theft of money from family members, as well as unexplained affluence, can mean drug involvement, as can talk that centers around drugs, wearing drug-related clothing, and espousing other aspects of drug culture, such as posters and music.

Changes in the way in which the youth relates to family members, especially sneaking out of the house, isolating himself or herself in the bedroom, telling lies and exhibiting negative attitudes, may be symptomatic of substance use (although they may also obviously be no more than normal adolescent angst). There is certainly cause for concern, however, especially if these attitudes are accompanied by a change in social relations outside of the family, such as hanging out with an older, new or "wild" crowd, becoming friends with people not known to the family, or sudden popularity with a clique. If these new relationships result in an unusual number of telephone calls, staying out late, and engaging in thrill-seeking actions such as joyriding, shoplifting or sexuality, there is a good chance that substance use is involved as well.

A change in relation to school may be observed by the family as well as by school officials, and may include skipping school or classes, dropping out of school activities, bad-mouthing teachers and other students, neglecting homework and achieving failing grades. The student may sleep in class or come to school obviously under the influence. He or she may be suspended or expelled, for the above reasons or for fighting, abusive language, bullying or other inappropriate behavior.

Legal problems may develop, including truancy, vandalism, theft, shoplifting, public intoxication, driving drunk, selling or being caught with drugs, or being involved in car accidents. Some youths, both male and female, have been arrested for prostitution or soliciting. Girls may become pregnant, and may attempt to hide their condition. (National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence of the San Fernando Valley, Inc.: Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Symptoms of Adolescents)

The difficulty in interpreting all of these factors is due to the fact that it is somewhat normal for adolescents to be moody and to go through mood swings and outbursts of defiance. However, close and loving attention by the family, and conscientious observation by educators and other adult contacts, can discern the difference in many cases between normal rebelliousness and AAOD syndrome.

Co-Occurring Psychiatric Illnesses

Not only is it typical that an adolescent using alcohol may also use drugs (either legal such as tobacco, or illegal), but there appears to be a correlation between AAOD occurrence and certain emotional, conduct, and/or psychiatric disorders. Studies have also attempted to ascertain the order of occurrence of these problems, that… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Adolescent Substance Use Screening Instruments.  (2003, January 31).  Retrieved December 17, 2018, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/adolescent-substance-use-screening/6752024

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