Drug abuse or substance abuse is an ever-present problem on the minds of Americans. Although the American government has done a lot in terms of programs to alleviate this persistent problem in society, still, this particular social illness remains. It is observed that those who use drugs are more prone to commit criminal offences than those who are not “users” (Anglin & Speckart, 1984, Cited in The Report of the National Task Force on Correctional Substance Abuse Strategies). What are some of the approaches being used by the American government to deal with this problem? What means are more effective and are indeed bearing fruit?
Demographics and/or description of my group When I joined this group of substance abuse recovering individuals, I found that pain of the emotional type is almost the common denominator among these people. It was an unforgettable experience for me because the degradation for many was already there. The fact that they had to undergo treatment and rehabilitation implies that help that can be found within them was farfetched and elusive; they need the support and encouragement of the persevering kind from others. The group was only one among many within the health and recovery center.
There were others who were like them but because of the size, the management reduces their number to a manageable of ten to twelve. I’ll call them group Alpha, whose members have the average or mean age of 24 with the youngest 17 and the oldest at 35. They only had two females, both married and divorced, with personalities a mile apart but because of their common escape – meth – they had formed an inseparable bond. There were two blacks (one of the women) who came to join the group. Usual drugs of choice are meth and ecstasy, with a combination of other drugs as a usual feature among substance abusers.
There were those who are “simple” alcoholics, the only kind of drug easy to get into because of society’s acceptability alongside marijuana, valium, and cocaine. The group is comprised of a bigger number of Roman Catholics (over half the total number of the members of the group), two Moslems, and the rest were into nominal Baptist and Presbyterian backgrounds. Before I joined the Alpha group, the fear was overwhelmingly strong that I was almost discouraged about the whole idea. There was the element of suspense, though I did entertain ideas of finding the whole scenario thrilling, and truly unforgettable.
I had expectations that it would be boring and uninterestingly futile. Good that I did not change my mind and that the encounter was anything but ordinary and boring. It was beyond my expectations when I only see such vulnerability, humility and the tons of words of self blame, guilt and regrets or remorse that came flowing from their lips. From day one, I see how powerful that group therapy can be and the common bond that unites them is enough to sour each one to pursue healing or recovery, and live life to the fullest. Treatments
Sociologists, in an attempt to explain and point out the reasons behind delinquency, have concluded that there are connections between specific youth behaviors with the home environment, family background, the neighborhood, associations, and many other aspects that together, or separately affect the formative years of young people’s social environment.
Delinquent children usually come from a background of difficult circumstances. Parental alcoholism, poverty, breakdown of family, abusive conditions in the home, death of parents during armed conflicts or drug overdose, and the HIV/AIDS scourge, and etc. are some of the various reasons that can leave children virtually orphaned. One or both parents may be physically present, but because of irresponsibility on their part (if even one of them is addicted to drugs or alcoholic), a child may grow developing certain ways and attitudes that are directly/indirectly caused by the parent/s addiction or drug-related behavior. In this case, true delinquency lies on the parents; and the children are, in a way, orphaned or unaccompanied, and without any means of subsistence which, in the first place, the parents’ fundamental responsibility to provide.
Generally, and increasingly, these children are born and/or raised without a father. They are first in the line of those who are at greatest risk of falling into juvenile delinquency. Without noticing it as it is typical of any youth to be lacking in prudence, with newly embraced group, the gang, a corresponding subculture starts to assimilate them, and before long, they start to engage in activities of adult criminal groups.
It is usually after being engaged in criminal activities for an extended period of time with its accompanying consequences (such as ending up in prison or rehabilitation institutions for drug addicts) that delinquents realize they are into a very dangerous zone. A large portion of all juvenile violations (between two-thirds and three-quarters) are perpetrated by youths who are members of certain gangs (Venkatesh, 1997). Unlike in school and their family, these have no strict rules to be followed except loyalty to the group.
It gives young people esteem when they somehow feel they are the “rule” in themselves. This is the lure of gangs. It gives the promise of fulfillment to would be delinquents. Popularity, access to the powerful figures on the streets, freedom to express one’s self, as well as easy flow of money (if the gang is also involved in some illegal activities such as drug dealings, which is common in most gangs) are seemingly within grasp of anybody who just have the guts to dare (OJJDP, Mar. 2003).
Children who are well taken care of by their parents and are thus adequately supervised are at less odds to be involved in criminal activities. Studies have proven that. A dysfunctional family, on the other hand, which is commonly characterized by regular conflicts, parental negligence, poor communication because of absorption to outside activities by parents, are always assumed to be the breeding ground for delinquents (Venkatesh, 1997). ~ Case Management Program One of the most important innovations of the past decades is the program called “case management program” (http://psychservices.
psychiatryonline. org). It deals with mental health and community care. The program was so designed as to deal specifically with persons having substance use disorders. Because persons with this problem are suffering from the multifaceted and chronic nature of this disorder, case management is a program of treatment that is comprehensive and continuous in its approach. Its strategy is client-centered and aims to treat every individual differently according to the individual’s unique needs.
Since it is believed that persons with substance use disorders suffer from multiple needs, the care administered has to be continuous and coordinated. Although case management approach is modeled after mental treatment examples, it is nevertheless distinct in that is was developed separately and is aimed particularly on substance abuse. Hence, there is a strong distinction between them. Experts have shown that case management approach is effective in that it could reduce the wear and tear that usually is the result of drug addiction.
It helps to “improve both the psychosocial and drug and alcohol outcomes among persons with substance use disorders” (http://psychservices. psychiatryonline. org). Conclusion It was the toughest and most sensitive experience that I have had over the years. It was truly fulfilling to see that there is hope for people who have abused themselves literally to death and inspire others to be sober. It has changed my views on groups in substance abuse and substance abuse in general because it has enhanced my understanding beyond the printed material and the mental assimilation done during discussions.
It was fully and adequately a better resource than simulations or testimonies without actually being there. People are the same everywhere; compassion builds up because we see their hurts firsthand. They hurt despite the fact that they incur these problems upon themselves; because they have left their families and chose their drugs over them. It was a deep pain they have to reminisce over and over again, because many of them can no longer retrace even just a bit of those whom they love and put back the broken relationships that had resulted.
- Anglin, D. , & Speckart, A. (1984). Narcotics use and crime: A confirmatory analysis. Unpublished report. University of California at Los Angeles, Department of Psychology, cited in Intervening with substance-abusing offenders: a framework for action. National Institute if Corrections. The Report of the National Task Force on Correctional Substance Abuse Strategies
- Holloway F, Carson J: Case management: an update. International Journal of Social Psychiatry 47(3):21–31, 2001. Cited in Case Management : American www.psych.org