Over the years, the number of teens who abuse various drugs has been on the rise. Drug abuse refers to the harmful use of psychoactive substances such as alcohol and other illicit drugs. When these substances are used, a person develops a dependence syndrome towards them that is usually characterized by cognitive, behavioral, and physiological symptoms, which occur after the repeated use of the substances. Youths that abuse drugs find it hard to stop using them due to the strong desire developed to take the drugs. Some of the commonly abused drugs and substances by youth in Ontario include alcohol, prescription drugs, heroin, cocaine, and marijuana. Some of the factors that contribute to drug abuse among youths in Ontario include family history of addiction, boredom, peer pressure, popularization of drug abuse in Canadian culture, mental health problems, and escape from life’s challenges (Csiernik, 2016). The essay writer chronic use of some drugs and substances leads to changes in the brain, both short-term and long-term, and this can causes mental health problems such as anxiety, aggression, paranoia, depression, and hallucinations among others. Due to the significant rise in the number of youth abuse drugs and develop various mental health problems, various interventions have been placed in Ontario and Canada as a whole to reduce the dependency of youth on drugs. The interventions have recently helped in reducing the number of youth that abuse drugs in the past decade since the country recorded an all-time high in the illegal trade of drugs in 2007 (Csiernik, 2016).
The Problem Statement in Ontario
Drug abuse among youth in Ontario and Canada, in general, has become an issue of concern as many adolescents are exposed to different types of drugs hence increasing their chances of using them. According to Austin, Boyd, and Austin (2010), drug abuse typically begins during the adolescence stage and with continued use; patterns of regular use can be established in adulthood. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the scope of drug abuse by considering adolescents because it is at this stage that most people start to use different types of drugs. Short-term consequences are common among youth that starts using drugs and these can be used in their identification for possible intervention (Csiernik, 2016). Some of the consequences include poor academic achievement, family problems, injuries, chronic school absenteeism, and physical and mental health problems. According to Reid, Students Commission (Organization), and Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (2012), adolescence is an important life stage where drug abuse can lead to negative life trajectories and this is the reason it is a concern in Ontario regarding the changing patterns in the youth that abuse drugs. With this trend continuing, it is highly likely that the problem may transition into adulthood. The availability of drugs is making drug abuse among youth in Canada a concern, as more people will likely be affected by the negative outcomes associated with drug abuse. Alcohol is considered the most abused substance by youth in Ontario and Canada while marijuana is the most abused drug in Ontario and Canada (Boak, Hamilton, Adlaf, & Mann, 2017). The harms associated with patterns of use of marijuana and alcohol, some of the most abused in Ontario by youths, make drug abuse an issue in the country. Some of these harms include diseases, possible death, and the loss of potential years of life. Therefore, the context of drug abuse is understood by focusing on drug abuse among youth in Ontario.
Method of Search Strategy
The search for information on the topic involved the utilization of a specific search strategy focused on getting relevant and up-to-date information. The search strategy involved the definition and writing down of a research question; specifically, what will be researched. In this case, the research question developed was “What is the impact of drug abuse among youth in Ontario, Canada?” After the development of the research question, various keywords and phrases were identified to be used in searching for information for the topic. For instance, some of the keywords and phrases used in searching for information include “drug abuse,” “drug abuse in Ontario,” drug abuse in Canada,” “youth in Canada and drug abuse,” “drug abuse among Canadian youth,” drug abuse and Ontario youth,” and “drug abuse among youth in Ontario.” With the identification of these keywords and phrases, the search began. It should be noted that despite the numerous search results; books, articles from peer-reviewed journals, and government websites were preferred. Therefore, these types of sources were preferred and those with relevant information on the subject were identified. Books, articles from peer-reviewed journals, educational websites, and government websites were preferred due to the reliability of their information. Additionally, up-to-date sources were also considered. It means that only sources that were published 10 years ago or less were considered in the search.
Current Strategies and Care
Various interventions and strategies have been put in place to deal with the problem of drug abuse among youth in Ontario. Community mobilization is one of the strategies utilized in Ontario. The strategy focuses on increasing community readiness in the prevention activities aimed at reducing the use of drugs among youth. Community mobilization in the form of supportive groups in the community that assist youth that use drugs is common in Ontario. Various community groups have been established to guide and teach youth about the effects of drug abuse on their mental and physical health. A school-based prevention curriculum is a form of community mobilization that is utilized in Ontario (Reid, Students Commission (Organization), & Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, 2012). The curriculum of schools in Canada highlights the effects of drug abuse on a person and this aims at reducing the number of youth that are involved in the use of drugs and other substances.
Another strategy used in dealing with the problem of drug abuse in Ontario is the use of mass media campaigns. These campaign efforts are focused on changing norms toward drug use among youth by highlighting some of the negative consequences of drug abuse and the positive consequences of avoiding drug abuse. The campaigns aim at changing the perceptions of people who abuse drugs as well as those that are highly likely to start using drugs. Mass media campaigns are common in Ontario. The likelihood of encountering billboard with information about the negative effects of drug use is high. Other media avenues used include newspapers, radio, and television. Over the years, there have been numerous national campaigns in Canada that focus on the negative effects of drug use among the youth (Help.org., 2019).
Another intervention used in Ontario to address the problem of drug abuse in Ontario is counseling and therapy for the affected individuals and their family members. According to the Canadian Centre for Addictions (2019), the use of family prevention and cognitive-behavioral approaches is vital in addressing the drug problem in Canada. Counselors often target certain behaviors among drug users through individual and family counseling. Today, several student assistance and peer counseling programs have been established in numerous schools in Ontario.
Strengths and Weaknesses of the Care Provided
From the strategies discussed above, it is evident that most of them focus on the prevention of drug abuse among youth. Prevention-based strategies are associated with several strengths. For instance, these strategies play a vital role in stopping teens from developing substance abuse disorder. The prevention strategies focus on identifying some of the negative effects that drug abuse can have on the youths so that they become disinterested in the use of drugs (NIDA, 2019). In most cases, the strategies highlight how drug abuse is detrimental to physical and mental health. Also, prevention strategies are considered to be a continuum. It means that these strategies help in deterring diseases and behaviors that arise from the abuse of drugs while also avoiding the severity of the illnesses associated with the use of drugs and substances. The prevention strategies educate the youth about the possible health impacts of using certain drugs over a long period. For instance, the youth are informed about how alcohol abuse affects the functioning of the liver. Also, the prevention strategies used in Ontario help in decreasing risk factors in the use of drugs hence enhancing protective factors (Boak, Hamilton, Adlaf, & Mann, 2017). The focus of the prevention strategies is to educate the youth about the effects of drugs and substances. Additionally, prevention strategies utilized in Ontario are cheaper compared to the costs incurred in the treatment of conditions that stem from drug and substance abuse.
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Despite the strengths of the strategies utilized in addressing the problem of drug abuse among youth in Ontario, various weaknesses exist. For instance, prevention is less effective compared to treatment (NIDA, 2019). By focusing on the prevention of the problem, drug users that have been significantly affected are excluded. It is necessary to integrate prevention with treatment for better outcomes. Also, there is limited research on the effectiveness of prevention in dealing with the problem of drug abuse. Therefore, it is difficult to evaluate the prevention strategies in Ontario regarding their effectiveness in dealing with the problem of drug abuse among the youth. According to Boak, Hamilton, Adlaf, and Mann (2017), most studies that have focused on the effectiveness of prevention strategies are often biased and cases of exaggerated findings.
Suggested Strategies from Other Models Nationally and Internationally
One of the strategies that can be utilized to help in addressing the problem of drug abuse among youth in Canada is teaching prevention in schools. Since adolescence is the age where most people start using drugs, teaching prevention in schools can help in reducing drug abuse among youths, as they will be informed about the negative effects of using drugs and substances (Csiernik, 2016). Schools have a powerful role to play in the prevention of drug abuse, as teachers are usually the first to detect signs of possible drug-related problems such as declining academic performance and poor school attendance (Reid, Students Commission (Organization), & Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, 2012). The strategy has been used in various states in the US in the past. It has helped in reducing the number of teens that abuse drugs. Effective school programs should focus on teaching young people the benefits of resisting drugs. The programs should promote the development of personal and social skills that can help in dealing with the urge of using drugs. These skills include social interaction, communication, stress management, decision-making, and conflict resolution. Also, the school-based programs should enhance resistance and awareness of the students so that they learn that most people do not use drugs and drug use is often a result of peer influence. With this type of awareness, youths in Canada will likely resist the pressure of using drugs. The prevention efforts should begin as early as possible and should continue through the adolescence stage as this is the period most youths are pressured to use drugs.
Another strategy that should be considered in dealing with the problem of drug abuse among the youth is by reaching those that are outside school. It should be understood that after-school hours are considered high-risk periods among youth for engaging in drug use. Most juvenile crimes occur during the time juveniles are out of school as most of the time they are unsupervised (Reid, Students Commission (Organization), & Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, 2012). Therefore, programs that target youths during these vulnerable hours should be developed to prevent or reduce the use of drugs. These programs can focus on the reinforcement of social skills that youths have learned in school. Many communities have implemented these after-school programs to help in the prevention of drug use (NIDA, 2019). Such programs have been used in Washington under the supervision of the police. The police have taken an active role in the development of programs to prevent youth from engaging in trouble after school. Therefore, if such a program is used in Ontario, drug abuse among youth will likely be reduced, as they will be involved in useful activities.
I believe that the best model to deal with the problem of drug abuse among youth in Ontario is the use of support groups. These groups can help in promoting desirable behaviors among youths that have been involved in drug use thus improving their mental health status. They are ideal because they do not focus on the prevention of the problem, but provide a framework for dealing with the problem at hand. This allows a free flow of conversation and support that they may need to improve there overall mental health. Support groups can be useful afterward, as youths will learn ways to cope with the urge to use the drugs. According to Csiernik (2016), youth that abuse drugs should consider treatment because support groups cannot be effective if not utilize hand in hand with treatment strategies. Therefore, as the youths utilize support groups, they should also continue with effective treatment. Support groups are usually helpful during the recovery process. They provide communal support as well as encourage the youth to continue with their recovery. Support groups can exist in the form of family members where the families of youths encourage them to avoid drug use and engage in other helpful activities in the community.
Conclusion and Recommendations for Future Research
Trends in the number of youths that use drugs across the world have significantly changed over the years. The increased access to various drugs has contributed to this. Ontario, Canada has also experienced an increase in the number of youths that use drugs. According to Canadian Centre for Addictions (2019), some of the factors that have been identified to contribute to the dependency of the youth on drugs and other substances include family history of addiction, boredom, peer pressure, popularization of drug abuse in Canadian culture, mental health problems, and escape from life’s challenges. The dire consequences of drug abuse among youths in Ontario such as poor academic achievement, family problems, injuries, chronic school absenteeism, and physical and mental health problems have contributed to the development of various strategies to deal with the problem (Reid, Students Commission (Organization), & Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, 2012). The search for literature on the topic of drug abuse in Ontario involved the utilization of a specific search strategy aimed at identifying the most reliable and valid sources. Various strategies have been placed to address the problem and they include community mobilization, mass media campaigns, and counseling and therapy for the affected individuals and their family members. The alternate strategy that has been suggested to deal with the problem of drug abuse in Ontario among youth is the use of support groups. Given the findings from the literature, the following recommendations should be considered for future research:
- Studies should focus on ways on the effectiveness of prevention strategies so that clear results are found rather than assumptions regarding their effectiveness
- Studies should determine how the integration of prevention strategies and treatment strategies can be effective in reducing drug abuse among the youth
Austin, W., Boyd, M., & Austin, W. (2010). Psychiatric & mental health nursing for Canadian practice. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Boak, A., Hamilton, H.A.,Adlaf, E.M., & Mann, R.E. (2017). Drug use among Ontario students, 1977-2017: Detailed findings from the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (OSDUHS) (CAMH Research Document Series No. 46). Toronto, ON: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
Canadian Centre for Addictions. (2019).Drug Use and Abuse in Canada. Canadian Centre for Addictions. Retrieved from https://canadiancentreforaddictions.org/drug-use-and-abuse-in-canada/
Csiernik, R. (2016). Substance use and abuse: Everything matters. Brantford, Ont.: W. Ross MacDonald School Resource Services Library.
Help.org. (2019). Drug Use Statistics in Canada and the US-Trends and Dangers. Help.org. Retrieved from https://www.help.org/drug-use-statistics-in-canada-and-the-us-trends-and-dangers/
NIDA. (2019). Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addiction
Reid, S., Students Commission (Organization), & Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. (2012). Drug endangered children in Canada: A report to the Drug Abuse Committee, Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. Fredericton, NB: Students Commission of Canada-Centres of Excellence for Youth Engagement.