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Social effects of psychoactive substance use and abuse.

Social effects of psychoactive substance use and abuse.

Sample Answer 

Social effects of psychoactive substance use and abuse.

Substance abuse is defined as the hazardous or harmful use of psychoactive substances such as illicit drugs and alcohol. The use of psychoactive substances can result in dependence syndrome, which is a cluster of physiological, cognitive, and behavioral phenomena that develop following continuous use of substances and that usually includes a strong urge to consume the drug, challenges in the control of the same, persistent use despite the consequences being harmful, a higher drug use priority in comparison to other obligations and activities, heightened tolerance, and in some cases a state of physical withdrawal. The effects of psychoactive substance abuse are a critical issue that will be discussed in this summative paper.

Risk Factors for First-Time Experimenters of Alcohol and Drugs

Teenage years are typically years of experiencing new things regardless of parental skills and influences. Experimentation with alcohol and drug use first starts during adolescence for most people. Cannabis is the most commonly used drug among teenagers, with around one in every five having used it at least once in their lifetime. As teens and young adults transition into a more independent lifestyle and adapt to changes in their daily responsibilities, they are also faced with challenging decisions to make and potentially risky lives. These first-time experimenters often do not link their actions to future consequences. While some will experiment and eventually stop with no major problems, others will become dependent on the drug they choose to experiment with and consequently harm themselves and others around them. First-timers in drug use are at risk for drug-related problems, especially when they are depressed or have low self-esteem. Additionally, those that have a history of substance and alcohol abuse, as well as those that feel that they are misfits or not in line with the mainstream, are at a higher risk of developing drug use disorders.

There are also revealing periods when the initiation of drug use is most common. The highest risk months are during summer, when college students are likely to use drugs for the first time. The initiation of hallucinogens, inhalants, cigarettes, marijuana, and alcohol is most common among college students in the months of June and July. With the summer happenings, vacations, and a sense of freedom from academic stresses, come the opportunities to try out new drugs and alcohol.

Intervention strategies for those dealing with substance use issues

There are several services and strategies that can be used in identifying, treating, and managing substance abuse disorders. Research shows that early intervention is the most effective strategy in dealing with issues of substance abuse. This said, screening for misuse of substances in healthcare facilities is increasingly used in detecting and commencing early interventions. Additional services addressing substance abuse problems in mainstream healthcare facilities have extended to continuous care to include various evidence-based, effective medications, supportive services and behavioral therapies.

Early intervention services can be offered in several settings such as mental health clinics, primary care offices, and school clinics, among others, to persons with mild to problematic substance use disorders. Often, these services are offered when an individual presents for social service or other medical conditions and is not seeking substance use disorder treatment. Early intervention includes availing information on risks of substance abuse, safe or normal levels of drug use, strategies for reducing or quitting the use of the substance, as well as facilitating the initiation of patient engagement and treatment where necessary.

Brief interventions are another strategy for dealing with those having drug use problems. These range from informal counseling to therapies that are structured for effective implementation. They also include feedback to the person with the substance abuse problem on their level of use in relation to safe limits and advice that can help in informed decision-making.

Motivational interviewing can also be used to address the person’s ambivalence about making changes. A conversational approach is used by counselors to help a person discover their interest in making changes to their drug abuse behavior. Motivational interviewing examines and resolves ambivalence with the counselor intentionally directing the person toward the goal.

When the substance abuse problem persists despite the brief interventions, it becomes necessary to motivate the person to seek specialized treatment. A healthcare provider in such cases, will make a referral to the patient for a clinical assessment followed by a treatment plan tailored to meet the needs of the individual.

Impact that a crisis, disaster, or other trauma-causing events, might have on individuals with addictions

When trauma and associated feelings are unresolved, serious long-term issues can result. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can disrupt the life of a person who has unresolved trauma experience by impacting the behavior, thinking, physical body, emotions, and relationships in a negative way. Sufferers of PTSD may experience dissociative episodes, flashbacks, depression, nightmares, sleep disturbances, addictive traits, or addiction predisposition. Persons struggling with PTSD may turn to alcohol or drugs, while those already using the substance may increase their consumption and frequency of use. In an attempt to manage the PTSD symptoms (such as insomnia, depression, and hypersensitivity to loud noise), using stimulating or sedating drugs can lead to addiction. The ‘cure’ for PTSD then becomes another problem and causes additional pain to the person suffering from substance abuse.

Other reasons are that trauma and addiction are linked to the lifestyle that the abuser lives and which puts them in the way of harm compared to a person that is not addicted. Dangerous neighborhoods, unsavory acquaintances, impaired driving, and other aspects often associated with alcohol and drug abuse may predispose persons with substance abuse problems to being traumatized by abuse, violence, accidents, and crime.

When a person has both traumatic stress problems and drug or alcohol abuse disorder, such a person often has other physical or psychological problems. 50% of persons with PTSD and substance abuse disorders have other severe physical or psychological problems, including anxiety disorders ( such as incapacitating compulsions and or worry, phobias, panic attacks), disruptive behavior (such as antisocial personality disorder, attention deficit disorder), and multiple addictive behaviors (prescribed medication and illicit drug substance abuse disorders).

Culture-Specific Intervention Strategies

Cultural psychologists assert that social practices and cultural traditions substantially influence the behaviour of persons. Research shows that there are meaningful differences in terms of racial-ethnic profiles in drug histories, specific drugs abused, health consequences of drug abuse, and the relationship of acculturation and spirituality to substance abuse attitudes. Additionally, important differences in the race which may affect response to treatment, treatment patterns engagement as well as retention, and mental health treatment engagement. A meta-analysis by Smith et al. (2011) showed that culturally adapted interventions are more effective and have higher adaptation when it comes to dealing with patients addicted to substance abuse and having experienced traumatic episodes. Additionally, therapy relationships adapted or tailored to specific characteristics of a patient enhances the drug substance abuse treatment (Norcoss & Wampold, 2011).

Motivational Enhancement Therapy is one such cultural-based treatment where the beginning of treatment is done by creating an experience that is culturally familiar (for example, adding a peer who is of the same race to the counseling team for a person who is in recovery, showing the person a video that depicts drug use as a community and personal issue, creating a rapport by commencing therapy with a meal shared with the professional and peer counselor). Participants in a MET program are more likely to abstain for two years than would those who do not enroll in a similar program (Longsshore & Grills, 2000).

The impact that the genetics of chemical dependency might have on individuals using substances.

Addiction has been shown to be a result of 50 percent genetic predisposition and 50 percent due to poor skills in coping with life and the challenges one faces. Every person responds to medications and drugs in different ways. A person who is vulnerable to addiction may exhibit a preference for a drug that is higher than the average person. Such a person may also experience extreme symptoms of withdrawal when attempting to quit. A person who is less vulnerable will experience no pleasure from medication or illegal substance that otherwise has a euphoric effect on a vulnerable person. The vast possibilities of genetic combinations make people unique, carrying a variety of behavioral and physical mannerisms and features. People may also inherit genes that predispose them to medical conditions and certain diseases.

The likelihood of some individuals becoming addicted to alcohol to alcohol/drugs

Research shows that there is no one specific gene that definitely leads to addiction. Instead, several gene combinations and genetic markers predispose a person to addiction. Vulnerability to addiction involves complex factors, including genes as well as life experiences. This means a person who has a combination of these genes is at a greater risk of developing an addiction. A person who has family members who have drug and alcohol addiction are at risk of addiction themselves.

When a person consumes alcohol or drugs, the brain is stimulated to produce dopamine which is a pleasure and reward neurotransmitter. The D2 gene responds to dopamine presence; hence, those who lack the gene tend to be more compulsive about alcohol and will, therefore, consume alcohol in amounts larger than persons with the gene. People who do not have the D2 gene do not feel the dopamine effects as would persons who have the gene; thus, they drink longer, and it becomes harder to achieve the same feeling of euphoria. The D2 gene is one example of an isolated gene study, and there is still room for the possibility of research on other genes linked to addiction and substance abuse vulnerability.

As mentioned, addiction is a result of a 50 percent predisposition and a 50 percent lack of coping skills. Various studies have shown this to be the case, with one study looking at identical twin pairs compared to non-identical twin pairs. Where an identical twin was an alcohol addict, the other had a high possibility of being one too. Further, where a fraternal twin was an alcohol addict, the other was not necessarily an addict. The study showed that there is a 50-60 percent probability of addiction caused by genetics (Agrawal & Lynskey, 2008).

On the other hand, children of persons who are addicted to drugs and alcohol have a higher likelihood of becoming addicts themselves (McCardy & Epstein, 2013). A study of persons diagnosed with alcohol and drug addiction compared to non-addicts showed that when a first-degree relative (sibling, parent, child) had an addiction, the child had an eight times higher likelihood of developing an addiction as well. Lastly, if a person with a low genetic predisposing for alcohol or substance addiction repeatedly abuses alcohol or drugs or has poor coping mechanisms, such a person rewires the brain permanently and becomes a fully-fledged addict.


Agrawal, A., & Lynskey, M. T. (2008). Are there genetic influences on addiction: evidence from family, adoption and twin studies. Addiction103(7), 1069-1081.

Cabral, R. R., & Smith, T. B. (2011). Racial/ethnic matching of clients and therapists in mental health services: A meta-analytic review of preferences, perceptions, and outcomes. Journal of Counseling Psychology58(4), 537.

Norcross, J. C., & Wampold, B. E. (2011). What works for whom: Tailoring psychotherapy to the person. Journal of Clinical Psychology67(2), 127-132.

Longshore, D., & Grills, C. (2000). Motivating illegal drug use recovery: Evidence for a culturally congruent intervention. Journal of Black Psychology26(3), 288-301.

McCrady, B. S., & Epstein, E. E. (2013). Addictions: A comprehensive guidebook. Oxford University Press.


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Social effects of psychoactive substance use and abuse.


  1. Discuss the social effects of psychoactive substance use and abuse.
  2. What are some of the risk factors for those first experimenting with alcohol and drugs?
  3. What are some intervention strategies for those dealing with substance use issues?
  4. What is the impact that a crisis, disaster, or other trauma-causing events, might have on individuals with addictions?

Write on this information relative to the:

Social effects of psychoactive substance use and abuse.

Social effects of psychoactive substance use and abuse.

  • Level of addiction
  • Abuse or dependence
  • Social use, and
  • Culturally specific intervention strategies
  1. Discuss the impact that the genetics of chemical dependency might have on individuals using substances.

With genetics in mind, what is the likelihood of some individuals becoming addicted to alcohol to alcohol/drugs?

Other Instructions:

Structure your paper with the exact heading and sub-heading above, which are underlined.

No more than 6 complete pages and no less than 5 complete pages of content, plus a cover page, and reference page as needed, which are not counted as part of the five-six required pages.

Use APA style throughout the paper.

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