Essay on Youth Alcohol and Substance Abuse Treatment Interventions

Published: 2021-07-14
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Boston College
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Various youth alcohol and substance abuse treatment interventions have failed to include the essential and effective tools to help the youth change the overcoming alcohol and substance abuse issue. Even before an intervention initiative is initiated to the patient, it is essential to develop a systematic diagnosis to assess the nature and the magnitude of youth alcoholism. The current diagnostic criterion was derived with adults, but there exist developmental variations between young people and adults. This requires different criteria to make them relevant and informative in relation to alcohol and drug abuse. Of importance to the paper is to develop an intervention for the volunteer adolescent.

Engaging with the affected provides the best avenue to building a sustainable relationship for the purpose of achieving the goal of the intervention. It has been presented as the initial step necessary before the process commences. It helps establishes the young person's interest in the process, the establishment of trust and the overall commitment to working on the objective as agreed (Madras et al., 2009). Engagement has practical, emotional and relational aspects and enhances on the young person's degree of participation in decision making and the connection with the major social institutions relevant in the process such as family, community, and school. An effective engagement needs a responsive and flexible approach that puts into consideration other factors surrounding the adolescent.

Flexibility can be applied in regards to place, time, the strategy applied and the form of communication that is convenient for the youth. During the process, providing some practical support will be fundamental in engaging. This is because it allows them to see tangible outcome quicker. At the same time, there is a need to be cautious and prevent the young being service dependent. They should be supported to discover their solution and options as much as possible. During the intervention, it is also essential to provide a "safe environment" for the youth especially if they have an issue with their parents or teachers. The sense of providing a safe environment helps explore emotional and problematic behaviors (Patton et al., 2013). Subsequently, digital communication technology can be incorporated in the engagement process to help provide the youth with relevant information regarding varied topics. Websites provide an essential source of tool and information in engagement and enhancing engagement with the youth. Various theoretical frameworks can be applied in this situation based on existing challenges. The psychosocial, communications and the public policy models are fundamental.

Psychosocial Model

Social Learning Theory: According to this model, the learning process is often influenced by negative and positive reinforcements. For this reason, people can anticipate the possible consequences related their behavior and shape their behavior and earn rewards. When children observe the behavior of fellow youth in television and movies, they are more likely to adopt that behavior based on attractiveness. With this model, an adolescent can develop refusal skills and avoid alcohol abuse.

Cognitive dissonance: This involves the tendency of human to harmonize the expectation concerning other people and experiences with theirs. We want to our beliefs and experiences to rhyme, and if they are not, there arises a "cognitive dissonance" to eliminate. Pretreatment will establish or strengthen adolescent belief and attitude and be in harmony to prevent cognitive dissonance. Cognitive inoculation is one of the pretreatment initiatives, and when applied to alcoholism, it will align the concerned belief and behavior.

Social inoculation: This theory addresses the social influences, beliefs, and attitudes that create pressure among the youth to use alcohol and other drugs. Programs aligned to inoculation theory teach the adolescent to resist from social pressure and ways to get out from the uncomfortable peer pressure scenarios as evident in the case study. In addition to instructing the students to desist saying yes, there is a need to provide alternative responses, to teach them resistance skills.

Developmental concept: according to the model, psychological development is a process that continues throughout a person's life, and every stage has positive and negative components. During the early stages of development, children develop some sense of trust, and if this basic trust, as opposed to mistrust, is not resolved at the initial stages, it arises again at every successive stage of development. The major issue related to alcoholism among adolescent is linked to their identity and the avoidance of identity diffusion (Johnson et al., 2013). There exists interpersonal dimension that emerges at adolescent creating a sense of ego identity at the positive end and confusion on the negative end. Preventive programs can be developed to build upon positive identities as athletes, students, hospital volunteers, and environmentalists.

Communications Models

Health promotion: The application of the comprehensive approach to developing health campaigns is essential and need to be addressed to ensure issues linked to social pressure are eliminated.

Communication and behavior change: According to the model, the different mechanism can be used to understand mass media campaign to change the behavior and define the steps needed to move a target population for or against alcohol and drug abuse. The initial step involves attracting attention and a clear focus on specific issues and problems through media research followed by a campaign to explain the issue in a way that is personally relevant to the affected student. The final step of the model is to maintain the newly acquired habit

Policy models

In relation to the policy models, charging high prices on alcohol and other substances can restrict their availability in the market. This can reduce the rate of consumption among youth and various incidences of heavy and regular drink. At the same time, policy related to age restriction for alcohol purchase and use reduces the rate of automobile accidents involving the youth. With the policy model, fundamental aspects of prevention strategies and approaches are initiated.

Timeline for the intervention implementation

Approach Time Frame

Social Learning 2 weeks

Cognitive dissonance 2 weeks

Social inoculation 3 weeks

Developmental concept 2 weeks

Health promotion 4 weeks

Communication and Behavior Change 2 weeks

Policy approach 1 week

From the screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT), it is evident that majority of people who misuse alcohol are less likely to seek help and are more likely to be seen in primary care settings. The process presented an innovative, evidence-based plan in screening the youth as a way of a routine medical visit in identifying and helping the patients at risk of the problematic behavior such as alcohol addiction. The detection and brief treatment of alcohol use have been used in training of medical residents across specialties at various sites. The intervention outcome was assessed by the success of the approaches used and the degree to which the youth felt that the SBRIT provided essential skills applicable to the change. The framework used in the intervention needs an understanding of the context to interact with young in regards to the economic, social, legal and cultural rationale. During the interventions, possible issues that might affect the process include delinquent behavior, school truancy, and emotional behavior issues. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and anxiety which are linked to alcoholism issue are genetic, and the link between alcohol abuse and psychological problems may be as a result of common genetic influence (Uhl & NYA S, 2010). Subsequently, environmental aspects may influence intervention put and replicate over generations thereby jeopardizing the entire process.

In a nutshell, no single intervention is more effective than the other but rather a combination of different approaches to achieve the objective of reducing rate of alcohol abuse among the youth. A multifaceted intervention is essential which includes a focus on prevention policy, proper communication strategy with the youth, social learning, cognitive dissonance, and social inoculation. To ensure optimum effectiveness, prevention strategy needs to be implemented and address the parental, peer pressure issues, marketing, and availability of alcohol in the market and the set time in selling alcohol. Through the process, it evident to note that it was an innovative, evidence-based plan that can be applicable across the board and help patients at risk of problematic behavior like alcohol addiction. More research needs to be conducted to determine the best strategies and approaches that work best for those affected other than using different approaches together.


Johnson, E. M., Amatetti, S., Funkhouser, J. E., & Johnson, S. (2013). Theories and models supporting prevention approaches to alcohol problems among youth. Public Health Reports, 103(6), 578.

Madras, B. K., Compton, W. M., Avula, D., Stegbauer, T., Stein, J. B., & Clark, H. W. (2009). Screening, brief interventions, referral to treatment (SBIRT) for illicit drug and alcohol use at multiple healthcare sites: comparison at intake and 6 months later. Drug and alcohol dependence, 99(1), 280-295.

Patton, R., Deluca, P., Kaner, E., Newbury-Birch, D., Phillips, T., & Drummond, C. (2013). Alcohol screening and brief intervention for adolescents: the how, what and where of reducing alcohol consumption and related harm among young people. Alcohol and alcoholism, 49(2), 207-212.

Uhl, G. R., & New York Academy of Sciences. (2010). Addiction reviews 2. Boston: Blackwell Pub. on behalf of the New York Academy of Sciences.

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