Basketball Diaries

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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Identify the risk factors for Jim.

Please sure to provide the specific individual, family, school/peer and community risk factors. (3 points)

There are a number of risk factors for Jim, played by Leonardo DiCaprio and the most apparent of them all, is the environment that he lives in. First of all, Jim lacks a male role model as he is an only child and raised by his single mother. Due to this, Jim hardly has any parental control and can virtually get away with anything outside of his home.

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Ineffective parenting and parental neglect are described as a potential risk factors for drug abuse. (Denton & Kampfe 1994, Hawkins 1992, Lane 2001) Secondly, Jim and his mother reside in a low income community as seen in the beginning of the movie and this also is a potential community risk factor. (Hawkins 1992, Spooner 2001) Jim’s friends also act as risk factors due to the fact that they are similar to him. In the beginning of the movie we can see them acting fairly reckless hitching a free bus ride, smoking, using vulgar language as well as using inhalants and openly throwing up on strangers. As stated by Hawkins, associating with deviant peers or peers who model problem behaviors tends to act as a risk factor for drug abuse. Throughout the movie, Jim and his friends move onto harder drugs such as heroin. This gets worse after Jim looses one of his friends to Leukemia and gets sexually harassed by his basketball coach. He then begins stealing and gets sexually involved with older men in order to gather money for heroin. Here we can see evident individual risk factors. Jim has easy accessibility to drugs, hopelessness due to losing his best friend and poor impulse control due to the number of triggering situations that Jim has been in. For example, Jim’s friend invited him to spend an evening with two older girls that was the only motivation Jim needed. Next thing you know, Jim is off doing several lines of cocaine and stealing pills from the medicine cabinet. Overall, all of these events had a negative impact on his temperament and have led Jim to develop low self regulation skills. Thus, he himself was a risk factor on an individual level. (Dodge 2009, Hawkins 1992)

Identify the protective factors for Jim. (2 points)

One of Jim’s protective factors was Reggie, a man with whom Jim used to play basketball with in his neighborhood. Reggie was the closest thing to a male role model that Jim had. Even though Reggie forced Jim to quit cold turkey (which is not a good idea as heroin has the worst withdrawal symptoms), he was the first one to acknowledge Jim’s drug addiction as a problem. As stated by Hawkins (1991), surrounding yourself with individuals who adopt conventional values and norms act as protective factors due to the fact that they can help direct individuals away from drug addiction. In addition to Reggie, another protective factor for Jim is his friend Neutron who gets out of the drug phase before Jim. Neutron actually comes up to Jim and states that Jim has changed “you were all basketball and now you’re all drugs”. Towards the end of the movie, Jim sees Neutron on TV and after seeing his healthy friend, he comes to the realization that he himself, requires help. Another protective factor was his mother. Jim’s bond with her made him feel incredibly guilty about his actions. His mother can be seen as harsh and unreasonable when she keeps yelling at him but overall, she acts as a protective factor. (Lane 2001)

How did Jim’s drug addiction affect his family functioning? (2 points)

Evidently Jim’s drug habit lead him to pull away from his mother. He became incredibly rude to her and did not respect the fact that she cared about him. He openly told her to “fuck off” and the repeated use of such language eventually got him kicked out of his own house. A mother being a mother, it is expected that a mother would still love her child no matter what. When Jim was out on the streets, his mother called the police on him in the hope of finding him and perhaps getting help. Unfortunately, this was not the case. His mother was powerless in the war between Jim and drugs which led her to denying her own child as she could not believe the person that Jim turned into.

What was your personal perspective and reaction to the film?

We welcome any aspects of the film that you found salient and relevant to the course. (2 points). One additional Point will be assigned for the correct use of grammar, spelling and references/citations. (1 point)

I cannot believe that it took me so long to see Basketball Diaries. I have seen a number of films that depict drug addicts but I have never seen such a realistic depiction of heroin use. Heroin is known for having the worlds worst withdrawal symptoms and the scene with Reggie and Jim shows this perfectly. Jim was shaking, sweating something I have never seen before. In addition, I thought it was interesting that Jim went to a Catholic school just like I did, even though he wasn’t catholic himself. Imposing religion onto someone can go in two ways – conform or rebel. A number of girls from my old school ended up getting pregnant at a very young, turned into reckless drug individuals or are now attending worlds best colleges – it is interesting to see how an environment that is seen as safe can actually have adverse effects on individuals.

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Basketball Diaries. (2020, Jan 21). Retrieved from