Which of the risk factors for substance use are present in your community of origin, or a community in which you currently live or work? Are there other factors that were left off the list?
An online search was conducted regarding risk factors for substance use, which are present in my community of origin. A youth survey was found for the State of Louisiana, Parish of Caldwell, of which I reside. The Louisiana Caring Communities Youth Survey Results for 2008 presents some information for Caldwell Parish regarding risks factors that consist of the main categories of demographics, social, behavioral, and individual. The chart given in the results of the youth survey involved the risk factors of community, the family system structure, school, and peer/individual, with demographics presented involving certain age groups of adolescents (Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, 2008). However, there were no demographics regarding gender given in this article. The information reveals that economic and social problems exist, which contribute to the substance abuse problem within the parish community. The community also suffers from a disorganized community structure that is causing a detachment in the neighborhood. This community a small rural area with very little funding for substance abuse prevention and treatment, which is a major concern for our community as the drug problem continues to escalate. The article shows that family problems exist within the community such as conflict and management of the family structure. Problematic behaviors in our parish such as alcohol and drug abuse are prevalent among the adolescent population. Such behaviors are family-oriented as many parents of the adolescents within this community are abusing substances. The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (2008) also presents some evidence that show problems in the school system such as a lack of commitment, behaviors of an antisocial aspect, and failure in academic achievement, which contribute to substance abuse (p. 4). These problematic behaviors contribute to a high dropout rate. When examining the peer/individual risk factor listed in the youth survey, it shows that peer pressure is high with a favorable attitude toward using substances. Also, the information reveals that rebellion and withdrawal is a contributing factor to the drug use in my community. This information shows a strong need for more education and a greater awareness of the need for more funding and interventions before our community erodes even further.
There are other factors that interfere, which are not listed in this information. However, I have personally witnessed them, such as politics. This is a very political community that unfortunately, makes money off of our youth and adults who are using drugs by charging fines and putting them back on the street with no form of rehabilitation. As a past advocate for helping those abusing drugs, I witnessed the court system charge individuals $500.00 each and place them on probation for six months, knowing that these individuals would be arrested again so that $500.00 more could be charged. This is a major problem within our local court system.
Also, our local mental health behavioral health clinic does not have anyone on staff with a college degree other than a lady who represents a whole district of parishes. Most of her time is spent traveling from one clinic to another. While in a bachelor’s degree program, I wanted to take a class that required that I spend some time at a local facility to learn about how to conduct group counseling sessions. When I contacted this particular facility, I was told that they were too busy. This proves that our local parish has a disorganized structure, as indicated in the youth survey that was reviewed.
Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. (2008). The Louisiana caring communities youth survey results for 2008. Retrieved from http://dhh.louisiana.gov/assets/docs/BehavioralHealth/publications/CCYS2008-Parish/9162.pdf.