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Adolescents As A Special Population: Addiction & Development

1294 words - 5 pages

Adolescence represents a sensitive stage of development posing a high risk for contacting dangerous addictive behaviors. Drugs and alcohol abuse present as the single most serious problem within this population, making them vulnerable for serious delinquent behavior. Drug use is the increasing problem among teenagers in today's high schools. Interestingly, alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence are not only adult problems -- they also affect a significant number of adolescents and young adults between the ages of 12 and 20, even though drinking under the age of 21 is illegal. (Bauman & Phongsavan, 1999, 183).Most drug use begins in the pre-teen and teenage years, these years are most crucial in the development of a young persons life. The average age when youth first try alcohol is 11 years for boys and 13 years for girls. The average age at which Americans begin drinking regularly is 15 years old. During these years teenagers are faced with tasks like discovering their self identity, which results in a sense of independency and searching for goals that would give their lives meaning. Drugs are readily available, adolescents are curious and vulnerable, and there is peer pressure that pushes them to experiment. The use of drugs by teenagers is the result of a combination of factors such as peer pressure, curiosity, and availability. (Zanis, 1999, 235).One of the most important reasons of teenage drug usage is peer pressure. Peer pressure represents social influences that effect adolescents, it can have a positive or a negative effect, depending on person's social group and one can follow one path of the other. (Zanis, 1999, 55-56). We are greatly influenced by the people around us. In today's schools drugs are very common, peer pressure usually is the reason for their usage. If the people in your social group use drugs there will be pressure to use also, a direct or indirect pressure from them.In turn it is believed to be that how we view ourselves depends highly on how others view us. This is probably a good reason why peer pressure is such a factor in adolescent drug use. Abraham Maslow's theory of human development suggests that basic needs are physiological and that the ultimate at the top of the pyramid model is self-actualization, which implies an unattached human being realizing its full potential and autonomy. Maslow's theory of human development involves moving from basic needs (food and shelter) to social needs (love and esteem) to the highest needs on his hierarchy, which lead to self-actualization. According to Maslow's theory, humans have several types of needs: physiological, safety/order, social, esteem and self-actualization. These needs are the basis of his human development theory and are met in social and family settings. (Maslow, 1970, 225-227).Unfortunately, with hormones raging, emotions tend to get the best of this group of individuals. Understanding the emotional development in early childhood through adulthood, leads us...

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