Home > Professionals’ understanding of risk factors for substance misuse by young people and approaches to intervention.

Murray, Denis (2013) Professionals’ understanding of risk factors for substance misuse by young people and approaches to intervention. Masters thesis, National University of Ireland, Galway.

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Issues and trends in relation to substance misuse normally develop in the transitional phase of adolescence, as young people begin looking towards their peers for direction and are less subject to parental authority. Risk factors are predictors of the likelihood that an individual or group will be involved in activity leading to adverse consequences. Research indicates that some young people are beginning to initiate alcohol and drug use earlier than many adults suspect. In relation to substance misuse it is observed that risk and protection factors exist in equal measure within different context including within the individual, family, peer group, school and community settings. The enhancement of decision making by young people could delay or inhibit their engagement in harmful activity including substance misuse. If young people experiences substance use as enjoyable and without any negative consequences then it is likely they will not perceive risks relating to such use. Parental disapproval of substance misuse is a strong predictor of delayed initiation, whereas family instability and parental or sibling substance misuse, are identified as significant risk factors placing young people at greater danger of developing lifetime trajectories involving substance misuse. Assessment is central to the identification of needs and forms the basis for the establishment of integrated care plans framed within the context of multi-disciplinary and inter-agency collaboration. Governments and other organisations are required to play an active role in supporting the well-being of individuals, families and communities. As such, the practice of including children within adult categories when referring to “normal” alcohol consumption levels needs to be re-evaluated. Parents‟ and other adults require information about the risks and harmful effects of early onset substance misuse in order to make informed choices and to be empowered in taking a stance in relation to teenage substance misuse.

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