NRS 434 Adolescence: Contemporary Issues and Resources
NRS 434 Adolescence Contemporary Issues and Resources
Adolescence is a very challenging stage of life during which intellectual, psychological, physical, and emotional changes occur. In as much as adolescence is considered a relatively healthy stage in life, individuals in this age group start making important life choices and establishing behaviors that impact both their current and future overall health. Adolescents tend to exhibit several serious social, safety, and health issues such as violence, substance use, bullying, delinquency, depression, suicide, sexually transmitted diseases, and teenage pregnancy, which can negatively impact their health and well-being (Rougemont-Bücking, et al., 2017). The paper will however focus on substance use and abuse as the main contemporary issue affecting adolescents in the current world.
Substance Use and Associated External Stressors
Substance use and abuse is a major concern among several countries across the globe. Studies show that more than a quarter of individuals between the age of 15 to 19 years are current alcoholics, amounting to approximately 155 million adolescents. The most commonly abused drug by adolescents in the United States is cannabis, with a prevalence of 4.7% according to data collected in 2018 by the WHO (Thorpe, Hamidullah, Jenkins, & Khokhar, 2020). Studies have also associated the recent increase in substance use and abuse among adolescents to several external stressors such as peer pressure, divorce, lack of parental guidance, and physical or sexual assault among others. Substance use and abuse among adolescents can lead to reduced self-control and increased risky behaviors such as unsafe sex and violence, which may cause physical injuries and mental disorders compromising the patient’s health.
Assessment Strategies to Screen for Substance Use and External Stressors
Routine screening for substance use among adolescents is quite crucial for early detection of associated health complications and to indicate the degree of severity of the disorder for appropriate intervention. During routine adolescent examination, the clinician needs to incorporate assessment of substance use when taking the patient’s history (Eisenberg et al., 2020). The assessment will entail the administration of several screening tools for substance use. For instance, for general alcohol and drug screening, tools such as the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT) among others.
During the assessment, the clinician is required to ask several questions to understand the background of the adolescent, substance use history, and mental health problems. For background information, the adolescent must report on the history of domestic violence, trauma, financial situation, family status, housing status, family strengths, and education. For information regarding substance use, the clinician will ask questions such as whether the adolescent has been using any drug of abuse, what drug they have been using, the age of the first use, the driving force of using the drug, and family history of substance use problems (Kennedy et al., 2019). A mental health examination will be necessary if the patient reports any associated mental or behavioral symptoms.
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Despite adolescents being minors and their parents and guardians taking responsibility for their health, legal and ethical requirements however state that adolescents are entitled to the right of confidentiality and autonomy (Fortuna, Porche, & Padilla, 2018). As such, the parents can only be informed about the overall health status of the adolescent, with additional information regarding any concerning sign and symptoms, that require their intervention, such as substance use disorder, suicidal ideation, and potential harm to self or other. However, the minor details disclosed by the adolescent must remain private to enhance trust and a healthy relationship with the patient.
Support Options for Adolescents Encountering External Stressors
Several interventions have been identified through EBP to provide support for adolescents encountering external stressors that can compromise their quality of life. For starters, the clinician must engage in conversation with the adolescent encouraging them to make healthy choices to avoid, reduce or prevent risk behaviors despite the magnitude of the stressor. Consequently, the use of motivation-enhancing principles should be encouraged for both the clinician and the adolescent’s parents or guardians, to help them open up and seek help in case the external stressors for substance use have started impacting their lives negatively (Eisenberg et al., 2020). Positive reinforcement and increased patient education on substance use and associated health complications might also be necessary.
Adolescents are faced with several challenges as a result of both internal and external stressors, which compromise their quality of life. One of the most common challenges is substance use and abuse (Kennedy et al., 2019). However, with appropriate screening and intervention, adolescents can prevent or reduce the impact of external stressors on their quality of life.
Rougemont-Bücking, A., Grazioli, V. S., Daeppen, J. B., Gmel, G., & Studer, J. (2017). Family-related stress versus external stressors: Differential impacts on alcohol and illicit drug use in young men. European addiction research, 23(6), 284-297. https://doi.org/10.1159/000485031
Kennedy, B., Chen, R., Fang, F., Valdimarsdottir, U., Montgomery, S., Larsson, H., & Fall, K. (2019). Low-stress resilience in late adolescence and risk of smoking, high alcohol consumption, and drug use later in life. J Epidemiol Community Health, 73(6), 496-501. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jech-2018-211815
Eisenberg, M. E., Erickson, D. J., Gower, A. L., Kne, L., Watson, R. J., Corliss, H. L., & Saewyc, E. M. (2020). Supportive community resources are associated with lower risk of substance use among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning adolescents in Minnesota. Journal of youth and adolescence, 49(4), 836-848. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-019-01100-4
Fortuna, L. R., Porche, M. V., & Padilla, A. (2018). A treatment development study of a cognitive and mindfulness‐based therapy for adolescents with co‐occurring post‐traumatic stress and substance use disorder. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, and Practice, 91(1), 42-62. https://doi.org/10.1111/papt.12143
Thorpe, H. H., Hamidullah, S., Jenkins, B. W., & Khokhar, J. Y. (2020). Adolescent neurodevelopment and substance use: receptor expression and behavioral consequences. Pharmacology & therapeutics, 206, 107431. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pharmthera.2019.107431