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Stigmatizing substance abuse; Research Paper

tobbit 1 / -  
Oct 14, 2013   #1
This is my research paper about stigmatizing substance abuse. Please help me with grammar.

The prevalence of substance abuse among adolescents and its dire consequences have been drawing public attention, for scholars and laymen alike, and it led to the common recognition that there has to be some proper countermeasures to alleviate and even barricade the channel which can lead to substance abuse and its aftermath. The "war on drugs" policy which former president Nixon declared in 1971 implemented as one of those. After forty years, Drug Enforcement Administration works diligently even when other federal agencies shuttered due to recent Government shutdown, and US incarceration rate shows meteoric rise since 1971 (Lundgren, Curtis, Oettinger, 2010), but the substance abuse rate in US is still skyrocketing, especially among adolescence. The number of school dropouts due to drug problem gets higher alongside, and most of these dropouts turn to criminals, locked into a cycle of drug abuse and poverty.

What is the reason that this seemingly good-willed policy is failing? One can find it from the attitude of average Americans to substance abuse and the abusers. People without drug related experiences or expertise don't know much about the mechanisms of substance abuse, and think substance abusers as social misfits lacking proper willpower to quit the habit. The important point is that the anti-drug policy works for promoting this misunderstanding, rather deterring.

Therefore, to change public attitude to substance abuse and abusers can be a definite starting point for a policy for substance abuse treatment. The reluctance of insurance companies to cover substance abuse treatment and local campaigns opposing to neighborhood substance abuse treatment centers, and increasing numbers of school proposing random drug testing reflect the negative views of public to substance abuse and abusers.

The book "Go ask Alice" shows how the public view regarding substance abuse and abusers makes them difficult to find a way to treatment and rehabilitation of substance abuse. In the book, heroine Alice got involved with illegal drug in a party and soon fell into the cycle of misuse and abstinence. When she finally got out of the habit after long and grueling days as an addict, what deterred most to her road to recovery was that there was no treatment. Alice herself did not realize that she needed one and her loving family, although the parents were described as the highly educated, did not know the necessity. As a result, throughout her recovery process, Alice longed for someone to talk to about her experiences with drugs and feelings related to them, such as guilt and responsibility for her family and her craving for drugs.

She did not get into treatment until she fell for a trick of other drug users and incarcerated in a detention center for substance abusers. She met a therapist there and finally could share her feelings and dreams about helping other teen drug users. Although, much energy wasted for longing and wish to return home, for her participation was involuntary.

Alice's story is a tragedy which many adolescent substance abusers are getting through in the process of recovery from substance abuse. Her family loved her sincerely, but did not know that it is not enough to intervene her substance abuse with close supervision. School authorities, represented by her principal, despised and accused her of being a spoiled kid and rejected any further help for her treatment and rehabilitation in school. It was natural that Alice was not able to ask help escaping from her former drug-using buddies.

The problem shown in the book "Go ask Alice" has not been solved yet. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System survey, 25.6% of 9th through 12th grade students in US "had been offered, sold, or given an illegal drug by someone on school property during the 12 months before the survey"(2011) in 2011. Once initiated, one-time drug use can be elevated to drug abuse, and to drug-related crimes in present federal drug policy, which focuses more on the isolation of abusers from society than treatment. In 2004, National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University reported that 78.4% of youth in juvenile justice system were "under the influence of alcohol or drugs while committing their crime, test positive for drugs, are arrested for committing an alcohol or drug offense, admit having substance abuse and addiction problems, or share some combination of these characteristics" (2004). In other words, three quarters of adolescents in juvenile system would not be there if not for drugs.

The most critical issue here is that present policy for drug abuse is not only failing to reverse the prevalence of the abuse but blocking the way to treatment by inducing negative views to substance abuse and abusers. According to the survey of Hazelden Foundation (2008), public describes a substance abuser as "crazy", "having fun", "irresponsible", "sinner", "weak", "stupid" among other words. Due to the stigmatizing substance abuse, many abusers choose to avoid treatment which is much needed for them. In a research on methamphetamine users and social stigma (Semple, Patterson, 2005), substance abusers who used treatment centers ever reported experience of public rejection significantly more than other users who never did. The frequently occurring local campaigns against plantation of a treatment centers for substance abuse also show the negative public attitudes toward it.

The stigma over substance abuse also affects the insurance plans to withdraw from full coverage of treatment programs. The usual excuse of insurance companies for the hesitation is that they "covers treatments for illnesses, not for bad behavior" (Sheff, 2013, p.24), again stigmatizing substance abuse as a result of lack of willpower. As the result, if any abuser, especially an adolescent user looks for a treatment, he/she is so deep in crisis, it would take him/her much more time and money to recover (Sheff).

One more institution to be mentioned concerning public stigmatizing of substance abuse is school. US school policy for substance abuse is more inclined to isolate abusers from other students, and school boards usually pay more attention to punish abusers that treat them. In the relation of school policy for prevention of substance abuse, it has to be mentioned that Drug Abuse Resistance Education program (so-called DARE) which is the most widely known program for the purpose, does not work at all. This is a program utilizes police officers to educate students about the harmfulness of drugs and other drug-related crimes. Students who participate in the program pledge not to use drugs or be a gang member, and are taught about the dangers of drugs for ten weeks. The problem is that DARE has not succeeded to prove that it is working, but still been used because it is free. Actually, it is not free. It uses a lot of tax money parents are paying.

School random drug testing can be mentioned regarding the negative attitude of school toward drug abuse, or even the negative attitude of US schools toward student general. The program allows school to do random drug testing students who join in athletic clubs and extracurricular activities, making every student a potential drug user. It harms the foundation of trust between teachers and students, making students use drugs getting help more difficult. The program is increasing numbers of schools adopting it in spite of the outrage of parents.

The campaign against facilitation of the treatment centers for substance abuse, reluctance of insurance companies to cover treatment, and adoption of ineffective substance abuse programs of schools are all related with the fact that current drug policy of US fails to help abusers attain successful treatment and rehabilitation, and to make public understand the facts about substance abuse and recognize themselves as helpers.

"War on drugs" policy, focusing more on punishment and incarceration of abusers than treatment has to be changed in three dimensions. Firstly, school based drug programs such as DARE and random drug testing have to be abolished, because they have failed to prove effective and, by focusing rather on threats on students, harmed trust based relationship between school authorities and students. These programs also hinder students with drug problem from getting proper help.

Secondly, the ineffective school drug programs have to be substituted by more evidence-based substance abuse programs. Nowadays more and more professionals and scholars studying substance abuse are paying attention to the evidence-based drug practices. Based on scientific research, evidence-based practices can improve drug related programs with techniques proved as fruitful (Carey, 2011).

Thirdly, federal health care policy has to guarantee the availability of substance abuse treatment for all to utilize. Now with the start of Affordable Care Act Medicare has been improved and expanded, which covers addiction care. Nevertheless, still many insurance plans provide limited coverage, such as covering only limited sessions of treatment or only detox process. Furthermore, every insurance plan has different coverage state-by-state, setting-by-setting, it leaves many people in confusion. There has to be a clear basis for the coverage of substance abuse treatment which can be applied for the most coverage settings if not all.

The United States of America is under the war on drugs. It affects negatively every American's thought about substance abuse and make public draw a line between 'the users' and 'us'. However, substance abusers are not mellow-boned social misfits. In fact, they are one of our neighbors once chose wrong turn and is lost in cruel drug policies of US and rejection of public induced by them. Especially for adolescent abusers, neglecting and leaving them in deep cycle of drug dependency and criminalization is wasting social expanses by incarcerating potential national builders. US drug policy which criminalizes and impoverishes American youth has to be changed to help recovery of young generation. Then the policy reforms in areas of school, local communities and insurance plans which would be implemented in line with federal policy reform will strengthen and accelerate the recovery.
RMappsy87 - / 1  
Oct 21, 2013   #2
As somebody who has abused many substances over the years, mainly my own vaginal secretions; may I just say ".jsdrhgosierhsvgjiofuhsidu".


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