Alcohol and Drug Abuse

Populations at Risk

Drug and alcohol abuse is shaped by genetics and environment. The misuse of these substances can stem from a few causes including, learned behavior from family members or friends, not knowing how to deal with pain, depression, or anxiety, or genetics that predispose certain people to addiction. Quitting drinking and using drugs can be a tough process, which is a key challenge in changing this health behavior. Substance abuse is an epidemic in the United States with a big population being people under the age of 24. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 7.3% of adolescence ages 12-17 years old struggle with drug abuse and 20% in adults ages 18-24 years old (NSDUH, 2010).

Factors and Improvements

During adolescence, kids are developing and many internal factors as well as many external factors are exposing them to certain behaviors to help them identify themselves. In a study conducted with teens, 95.7% of participants believed that lifestyle improvement is the most important aspect to help with recovery from alcohol and drug abuse. Adding on, 82.5% said that changing drug culture and the environment is imperative to help stay clean (Gonzales, Anglin, Glik, Zavalza 2013). Community level based treatments that are aimed at a younger population is required to help kids stay out of alcohol and drugs. Programs in schools, health clinics, and recreations centers should be implemented to teach kids about alcohol and drugs, as well as help them stay clean. At a public policy level, differences in ethnicity and community affects the chances of someone being influenced by drugs or alcohol. Evidence from a study conducted on a college campus shows that drug use is more prevalent in Hispanic and White students than compared with African Americans and Asian students (McCabe, Morales, Cranford, Delva, McPherson, Boyd 2007). The study indicates drug use and not drug abuse, but programs and treatment options should be available on college campuses for kids that struggle with drug use because it can lead to drug abuse. Putting regulating policies into communities that have high crime and drug abuse will help lower both of these health behavior issues.


Those who come from a low socioeconomic community may be more exposed to drugs or may struggle with mental health, which can lead to drug and alcohol abuse. Those who surround themselves with people that abuse drugs and alcohol, are influenced by their behavior and can cave into peer pressure. On an interpersonal level of the socio-ecological model, those who separate themselves from people that abuse drugs and alcohol, have a better shot to get themselves treatment and help in the recovery process (Gonzales et al. 2013). Sometimes becoming sober is easier than staying clean for many Americans. 60% of people relapse after their first three months sober and 80% relapse after a year of sobriety (S. Godley, Dennis, M. Godley, Funk 2004). Alcohol and Drug abuse is a challenging health behavior to overcome, but continuing with programs, treatment, and surrounding yourself with a healthy environment can help prevent a relapse.