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Reasons for Teenage Drug Use

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In the past decade the use and abuse of tobacco, alcohol, illegal drugs, and sexual intercourse has become a serious problem among teenagers. Many studies have been conducted to address this problem, such as the annual survey put out by Michigan State University. The deficiencies in these studies include the locality in which these studies are done as well as how to address these problems within a small community rather than broadband.

The audiences of this study are the parents and policy makers of the small community of Yuma, Arizona. This study is important for the particular audience because Yuma is increasingly becoming a hot spot on the United States map for the use of drugs and a high teenage pregnancy rate. The goal for this audience is to find out the reasons behind the use of drugs and sexual intercourse so that the citizens of Yuma can begin to rectify the problem with new innovations.

One purpose of this study is to identify the percentage of teenage population that are using and abusing tobacco, alcohol, illegal drugs, and sexual intercourse. The second purpose of this study is to find out the reasons for the unacceptable conduct of the teenagers in Yuma. The final purpose of this study is to identify a significant reason specific to the location of Yuma and to site possible remedies for such problem.

To find an answer to the underlying problem of “why”, some questions needed to be answered first. The percentage of the teenage population that is engaging in the use and abuse of tobacco, alcohol, drugs, and sexual intercourse needs to be found. Of the current users and abusers, the reasons for their conduct need to be sought out. Finally, the last question that needs to be answered once the results come in is how do we rectify this local problem?

For this study much literature was reviewed and other surveys were analyzed. The findings really weren’t conclusive on reasons for drug use in small rural towns, especially ones with nothing to do for teenagers. This literature includes articles by; Nemours Foundation, Parenting and Child Health, Teen Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Teen Marijuana Use, Why Do Teens Use Marijuana, Teens and Drugs, What Makes Teens Do Drugs by Health Day, Why do Adolescents Use Drugs by Bertha Gutierrez, Common Sense for Drug Policy, The Partnership for a Drug Free America, and an article from Cornell University.

Several authors have attempted to explain drug use debut in teenagers. Petraitis, Flay, and Miller (1995) proposed a conceptual model that includes three kinds of influences: (1) cultural and attitudinal, such as public policy and social values; (2) social and interpersonal, including social influences, family beliefs and relationships; and (3) individual baggage, including temperament and confrontation skills. They also suggested that three levels can be identified within each: proximal, distal, and distant. They recognized, however, that even though the model is conceptually clear, there has not been enough research to identify other influences underlying drug use debut.

In another related study, Castro-Sarinana (2001) identified 50 factors related to teenage drug use. He classified them into three groups using an epidemiological model: (1) predisposing environment, including type of family, demography, and social environment; (2) the drug itself (as an agent), including use and access, among other factors; and (3) individual (host), including sociodemography and personal biography.

Other reports have identified such factors as easy access to a drug, drug users among family or friends, peer approval, a perception of low risk, and unpleasant mood state as being linked to drug use (Medina-Mora, Villatoro, Lopez, Berenzon, Carreno, & Juarez, 1995). Additional associated factors include domestic violence, drug use by relatives, and sexual abuse (Sanchez-Huezca, Guisa-Cruz, Ortiz-Encinas, & de Leon Pantoja, 2002).

In a qualitative study, Nuno-Gutierrez and Flores-Palacios (2004), noted that one of the central perceptions underlying teenage drug is that they do not see it as a problem, and believe that "nothing wrong is going to happen." This perception seems to be learned from a family member. The adolescent addict also believes that s/he is stronger than others.Some reports indicate school-related factors, such as academic failure (Bryant, Schulenberg, Bachman, O'Malley, & Johnston, 2000; Bryant & Zimmerman, 2002; Bryant, Schulenberg, Bachman, O'Malley, & Johnston, 2003; Luthar & Crushing, 1997), absenteeism, peer drug use, and psychological distress as being linked to teenage drug use (Dryfoos, 1990; Hawkins, Catalano, & Miller, 1992; Newcomb, Abbot, Catalano, Hawkins, Battin-Pearson, & Hill, 2002; Newcomb, & Bentler, 1989).

Further, teenagers who engaged in misconduct and had low school performance scores had higher tobacco, alcohol and marijuana use levels (Brook, Whiteman, Gordon, & Cohen, 1986; Bryan & Zimmerman, 2002; Hawkins & Weiss, 1985; Roeser, Eccles, & Fredman-Doan, 1999; Sanchez-Huezca et al., 2002; Smith & Fogg, 1978; Voelk & Frone, 2000). This finding is supported by a number of reports showing that teenagers with more motivation and interest in school, more positive attitudes, defined academic goals, and higher self-esteem also have a lower risk for drug use (Bachman, Johnston, & O'Malley, 1981; Schulenberg, Bachman, O'Maley, & Johnston, 1994).

Adolescent drug abuse is also linked to such family factors as faulty and triangulated communication (Klein, Forehand, Armistead, & Long, 1997), multi-problem families (Sokol, Dunham, & Zimmerman, 1997), inter-parental conflict (Klein et al., 1997), parent-child conflict (Klein et al., 1997; Sokol et al., 1997), intergenerational alliances and coalitions (Graham, 1996; Sanchez-Huezca et al., Strauss et al., 1994), addiction-perpetuating family patterns (Tomori, 1994), affection-deprived family environment (Voelkl et al., 2000), ineffective problem-solving patterns (Klein et al., 1997, Sokol et al., 1997), low familial satisfaction levels (Choquet, Kovess, & Poutignat, 1993; Yeh et al., 1995), family perceptions oriented toward negative aspects (Anderson & Henry, 1994; Denton & Kampfe, 1994; Foxcroft & Lowe, 1995), family disintegration (Hagell & Newburn, 1996), type of religious practice (Foshee & Hollinger, 1996), and low levels of parental monitoring (Hawkins et al., 1992).

Apparently, the main risk and preventative factors for drug use debut have been identified in the literature. These do not, however, include the common sense explanations by the teenagers themselves. Common sense explanations form part of the Social Representations Theory (SRT) of Moscovici (1979), who proposes the existence of two knowledge



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