Drug and Substance Abuse as a Major Public Health Concern - Essay Sample

Published: 2021-08-11
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Wesleyan University
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Substance abuse and addiction among the youth and the older generation is a very devastating phenomenon not only to an individual but the family and the community as a whole. Community problems such as poverty and homelessness are greatly associated with the problem. Also, stigma towards addicts is a common phenomenon because the problem is thought to affect people who have little or no education only. The community perceives that the people who are suffering from this problem should make a change, which can be viewed as one of the reasons why the problem has become persistent. A single targeted approach to addressing this issue is not sufficient, as it is unlikely to reduce use and abuse of substances. The central focus of this proposal is an innovative and comprehensive, community-based approach that targets all the stakeholders in the community by engaging them.

Through stakeholder engagement, the problem can be viewed from a wider perspective, and the problems associated with stigma and isolation of addicts can be overcome. The community will be able to view the problem as their own, and that there is the need for it to be addressed urgently. Engaging stakeholders in the community increases the readiness and engagement in prevention and rehabilitation strategies and actions that would reduce the use of harmful substances. Stakeholder engagement is essential towards the implementation of a supportive mix that is mutual, for instance altering the social, economic and physical environment of the community to reduce substance abuse and preventive measures such as education and rehabilitation to reduce use and abuse of substances.

The Rationale for the Community Change

Drug and substance abuse is a major public health concern that has an impact on the society either directly or indirectly at multiple levels. The cost for substance abuse in the United States is tremendous, as like other chronic health conditions such as cancer and diabetes. The government costs of reducing the problem in the society, treatment, and rehabilitation of addicts is costly (Mental, 2014). The other costs are associated with earnings and costs that are associated with accidents and crime. The total annual costs as per the National Institute on Drug Abuse amounts to $740 billion annually which equals to almost 17% of the federal budget. Studies also indicate that drug abuse in the United States was on the rise from 2002 to 2012 (Mental, 2014). Apart from healthcare costs, a majority of people die every year as a result of drug overdose or from cases related to drug and substance abuse, for instance over 88,000 people die annually in the United States as a result of alcohol-related cases (Mental, 2014).

Regarding treatment and rehabilitation, about 23.4 million Americans in 2009 needed treatment as a result of substance or alcohol abuse and of all these individuals, only 11% received treatment from a specialized facility. This indicates that a majority of people do not receive treatment and rehabilitation that is required (Mental, 2014). A majority of Americans are dying due to substance abuse frequently than before because only 1 in every ten individuals receives treatment, due to substance abuse problem. Therefore, there is a very wide gap, in achieving treatment and rehabilitation of individuals from substance abuse cases in the American society (Mental, 2014).

The society also suffers from substance abuse, indicated by the rise of drug-related crime rates and also violence. The neighborhoods and the communities are suffering, such as child neglect, poverty and homelessness, and poor health. The children suffer the most especially when both parents are engaged in substance abuse (Mental, 2014). The children are forced to defend themselves by all means emotionally and economically. High cases of mental health problems are mostly associated with broken families as a result of drug and substance abuse among both parents and one of them. Smocking not only affects the health of the individual but also the unborn child. This indicates how far-fetched the consequences of drug and substance abuse are. They are also major contributors to chronic illnesses such as cancer and mental health problems (Mental, 2014).

Vision and Plan for the Community Change Effort

The community and family suffer the most from the effects of drug and substance abuse apart from the individual. Therefore, the proposed vision for change in my organization is to reduce the effects of drug and substance abuse challenges in the community. This vision can only be achieved if more drug treatment and rehabilitation centers are set up to run programs related to drug and substance abuse prevention, treatment and rehabilitation among the addicts and the community in general. These efforts call for a high level of commitment not only to the organization but the community as well. In line with the set program, the organization seeks to offer housing aid to individuals that recover from addiction, and an opportunity to start a new life, in more comfortable conditions to prevent relapse.

The organization seeks to measure change, through indicators such as reduced crime and violence in the society, reduced number of homeless individuals, increased number of people seeking help to curb drug addiction and also decrease in the number of broken families. The other anticipated change is acceptance of former drug addicts into the society and their homes as a result of reduced stigma from the community. Change in our case is mainly a collaborative effort that seeks to mobilize the community on the importance of engagement towards addressing the drug problems in the community. It is also about ensuring that they have a wider understanding of the importance of addressing the challenge at the community rather than at the individual level.

Plan for Engaging Stakeholders

Stakeholder engagement in the definition of the organizations vision and development of the plan for change is very crucial towards achieving the stated objective. Engaging them would ensure that the needed collaboration among the local healthcare facilities, religious bodies such as churches, and recovery centers, community-based organizations dealing with social challenges and residents is achieved. The organization plans to engage the stakeholders using two approaches. First, using the collective impact approach to create alignment across the stated groups and community asset-based approach that will mainly focus on assets that are contributed by the community required to achieve the desired change.

The asset-based approach would see local resource contribution from concerned parents, community groups such as churches, organization among other individuals who are concerned with reducing the impact of the drug problem in the society. The organizational level assets would include, partners that would contribute towards the building of recovery centers, grant funding targeted towards community mobilization, education, treatment and rehabilitation, and government agencies such as Department of Housing that would aid in providing housing for the addicts. The organization will also be concerned with ensuring that individuals receive full treatment and rehabilitation from the centers before they are released into the community. Other community stakeholders such as hospitals would aid in the provision of treatment among the most affected individuals including treatment of mental health conditions among the victims of drug and substance abuse such as children.

It is observed that the community will play a very crucial role towards the achievement of the desired change in the society. This would impact the result of the project. Also, through engagement of community stakeholders such as advocates who aim to ensure the community becomes a better place would make it easier for my organization to ensure that the programs remain sustainable. The stakeholders would also be involved in mapping, identifying issues and offering solutions based on improving the built environment.



Mental, H. S. A. U., & Office of the Surgeon General (US. (2016). Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General's Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health.


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