Teenage Substance Abuse
The article Does the Economy Affect Teenage Substance Abuse, provides a deep insight to the “counter-cyclical” use of alcohol and drug use among teenagers and its effects on the changes in the economy. These findings are directly in contrast to those by Ruhm and Black (2002) whose research show that overall drinking is “pro-cyclical” and it increases with the increase in economy. Arkes’ findings suggest that a weaker economy results in greater use of marijuana and hard cocaine drug use in teenagers and adults, his research is similar to Dee’s findings on counter cyclical binge drinking. According to the writer, the most important element being missed by the researchers, confirming pro-cyclical alcohol use, is the unlawful use of drugs which should be considered more harmful than the use of alcohol drinking.
Arkes holds that the use of alcohol could have a very different impact on the economy as compared to that of the prohibited use of drugs, which have additional harmful affects due to unstable economic conditions. For instance, people, especially teens, would have an easy access to the drugs due to the growth of black market during economic recession. Arkes uses teenagers from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth of 1997 to examine marijuana, cocaine drugs and alcohol intake. The various aspects of marijuana use included, annual, current, heavy uses which were counter-cyclical for both adults and teenagers. During the 1997-2003 period, the data measured, resulted in economic stability and recovery.
The research examines that most of the alcohol measures used in the past records were found to be less harmful than those of counter cyclical drug used during economic crises that gave rise to the selling of illicit alcohol and drug. Counter cyclical effects for drugs were due to the analysis of age group being conducted. Secondly, further analysis showed that the drug use varied according to different races in the society, for instance the drug and alcohol used by black teenagers was higher as compared to the Caucasian teenagers. In the same way, consumption of drugs taken by females was lesser as compared to the males. This shows that the African-American community was more vulnerable to illegal drug. However, a proper estimate could not be taken due to the samples being too small. The writer claimed that it was not only a weak economy that resulted in greater teenage substance use; an expanding economy could also contribute to increase in drug and alcohol use, called “pro-cyclical” drug use. It could result, for instance, in extended working hours, drugs could be taken to lessen the anxiety, drugs being more affordable, teenage drug use increases due to unsupervised time resulting in more exposure to drug dealers. The research rightly examines and offers strong evidence that the counter-cyclic mechanism actually seem to be the prime factor that results in the economic decline as compared to the pro-cyclical mechanism. Pro-cyclical drug use could be one of the factors to economy crises but the main issue is of the illicit use of drugs which only a black market could provide, which in turn only expands when the economy is too weak and a black market only gets smaller during powerful economic conditions, when more jobs are easily available. More teenagers sell drugs when the economy is weak. The research shows how the economic boom in 1990s did help to lessen the teenage drug use. Thus counter-cyclic mechanism seems to take the lead in proving to contribute to greater use of prohibited drugs being used.
The article has the effect of successfully stimulating the readers’ thinking regarding the underlying issues behind drug and alcohol abuse amongst teenagers. The article has aimed to prove that there is an undeniable link between substance abusing teenagers and their financial status thereby giving fresh insights into the multiple factors that lead a teenager towards the path of substance abuse. These insights can be of great assistance during a social worker’s rehabilitation counseling services. The philosophy of rehabilitation, as was evident throughout the studies, is based on giving all individuals a fighting chance to continue with their lives in a dignified and productive manner. Understanding the multi-layered factors that had forced them off the path of stability can help a social worker perform his or her job with more understanding and a deeper, sturdier sense of compassion.
Knowing that financial crisis, and perhaps the depression and despair that usually accompanies it, are chiefly responsible behind the crisis a teenager is facing, a social worker becomes better equipped to conduct an extensive fact-finding investigation, reviewing the problem, assisting the teenager in dealing with his or her issues and providing solutions. All in all, the coursework, providing the necessary framework and step by step procedural methods through which caseworkers can work with individuals, provide the future social workers with the necessary professional know-how, whereas informative articles such as these provide a high level of awareness and develop a responsiveness in the social worker.
Arkes, Jeremy (2007). Does the Economy Affect Teenage substance use. Health Economics, 16: 19-36.