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Drug Use Among African-American Adolescent Females - Essay Example

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Drug use and substance abuse is often associated with stressors that trigger a teenager's desire to experiment or begin using drugs. These stressors may be peer pressure, poverty, crime, family structure, or the social bias that is attached to ethnicity and gender…
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Drug Use Among African-American Adolescent Females
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Download file to see previous pages In addition, substance use and abuse leads to poorer performance in school, premature dropping out, legal complications, and poor employment opportunities. These are precisely the problems that a young African-American female is ill equipped to confront in a world where race and gender may already place them at a disadvantage. African-American adolescent females have made great strides in confronting drug abuse, yet there are still several risk factors that they are routinely exposed to.
Substance abuse has been identified as the nation's number one health problem. It is critical to address the problem of teenage drug use as most users begin using AOD before they turn 15 years old (Lewis et al., 2002, p.15). For the purposes of this paper, an adolescent is a person attending school in grades 13 through 18 years old. Reaching and intervening into this age bracket is one of the keys to the success of stemming the tide of drug addiction. It is decidedly relevant to understand the scope of the problem as well as the triggers and stressors that may lead a young black female to use drugs or relapse after a treatment program. The economical cost to society makes it financially imperative to intervene at a young age. An untreated drug problem costs society almost four times as much as would be spent on a residential treatment program (Lewis et al., 2002, p.56). There is also a great personal cost attached to the abuser of AOD. Physical health suffers not only from the drugs, but also from poor eating habits and the stress involved with the stigma of drug use. The legal status of teen use of drugs can destroy a young girl's life by disrupting the educational process and exposing them to other criminal activity. While substance abuse is a major threat to our public health, it is one that the nation cannot afford to ignore.
Stressors that raise the risk of drug use are often not gender or race specific, though there are some notable exceptions. In general, females in their teen years tend to use slightly fewer drugs than their male counterparts. Nearly 50 percent of men and women have tried an illegal drug by their senior year of high school, and alcohol is the most popular drug of choice followed by marijuana (Johnston, O'Malley, Bachman, and Schulenberg, 2007, p.115). However, marijuana is the drug that is most regularly used, with 1 percent of 8th graders smoking it daily, and 5 percent of 12th graders using the drug daily (Johnston et al., 2007, p.90). In contrast to the typical stereotyping of the media, African-American teens use fewer drug and less often than their Caucasian or Hispanic cohorts (Johnston et al., 2007, p.132-135). This misperception may be due to the strong correlation between poverty and drug use, and the over-representation of African-Americans in the nation's penal system. However, the statistics clearly indicate that adolescent African-American females are one of the lowest using demographic groups.
There are several pressures that come to bear on young African-American women to begin using drugs. Having an opportunity beyond high school has a significant impact on a student's decision to postpone experimenting and using drugs. Marijuana use by 8th graders is 50 percent lower among the students who are planning on attending a 4-year college (Johnston, et al., 2007, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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