War on Drugs: Social Work Measures Among Adolescents

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Updated: Mar 06, 2023
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Be cognizant of the fact that addictions to narcotics in the contemporary world pose a well-known social, health and psychological problem. In this, Lyman (2016) notes that as of 2012, there were approximately 250 million substance abusers who fell in the ages between 15 and 60. Note that out of this number, an estimated 16 million people form the segment of opiate users. A quick look at nations such as Iran would show that opiates are the most abused and hence it is clear that drugs and alcohol form part of social problems.

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As such, social work gets constructed from the demands that are put forward by the social issues.

Moreover, be aware of the fact that substance abuse or dependence will in most cases have numerous negative impacts on the economic, social and political constructs. For instance, due to drugs and alcohol abuse, there have been a surge in addiction-related ailments such as Hepatitis, HPV or even HIV/AIDS (Tanner-Smith & Lipsey, 2015). In addition, there is the increase of addiction-related crime, child abuse, self-immolation, domestic violence, and declining academic performance. Looking at the above numerous negative impacts, costs and health hazards of drugs and alcohol abuse, it is ideal to note that there is the urgent need of coming up with an effective intervention framework. While the last few decades have been characterized by numerous advancements in technology and innovation, interventions and theories on this social problem are increasingly becoming complex. It has led to the rise of pharmaceutical, social or even psychological interventions.

The role of this paper is to conduct a detailed overview of the literature that is related to theory and interventions which are linked to drugs and alcohol dependence.

Literature Related to Theory and Interventions

It is of utmost importance to note that theory refers to the systematic way of comprehending situations of events. As such, Hepworth, Rooney & Strom-Gottfried (2016) define theory as a given set of definitions, concepts or even propositions which is used in the prediction of situations through the illumination of the relationships that exist in the variables involved. In this, note that concepts form the building blocks of a theory while constructs get adopted for use in specific theories. On the other hand, variables create the operational forms of constructs while models use one or more theories to help in managing issues in social contexts (Närhi & Matthies, 2016). With the help of theories, social work practitioners are able to empower individuals, prompt social change and have efficient case management through problem-solving.

Luckily, in dealing with drugs and alcohol abuse, ecological models come in handy. Greene (2017) states that ecological models refer to frameworks that are able to provide a platform for the integration of numerous theories in different levels of analyses when dealing with social problems. The different levels of integration involved include the individual, environmental and policy levels. These allow for a change in social or mental health behavior which can be managed efficiently for the better. The five core principles of ecological models include:

  •  There exist multiple levels of impact with regards tit ye mental or health patterns. These levels may include the intrapersonal, interpersonal, community, organizational or even public policy levels.
  • Environmental contexts greatly determine behavior. In this, all behavior is regarded as contextual and help social work practitioners intervene in more effective manners. For instance, in the assessment of a patients’ motivation to make health changes that are linked to drug and alcohol dependence, a practitioner will consider access to healthcare.
  •  Influences on behavior interact on different levels. In this, note that one level may interact with another. The success in interdependence is a key determinant of change in social problems.
  •  Ecological Models tend to be behavior specific. Greene (2017) notes that this principle simply means that global changes will have less impact on social problems. In order to be effective, models should target specific health or mental issues.
  • Multi-level interventions should be effective and well-coordinated so as to have a lasting positive change.

In this light, two theories of intervention ideal for dealing with drugs and alcohol addictions in teenagers include the Narrative theory and the Transtheoretical model of change. These are discussed in the next section.

The Narrative Theory & Therapy

This theory was advanced by David Epston and Michael White in the late 1980s. Note that the former was a renewed New Zealand Psychologist while the latter was a South Australian social practitioner. Their theory dwells on social constructivism and constructivism. Charon (2017) states that constructivism looks at the perceptions and cognitions of specific individuals and how that ends up shaping their reality. On the other hand, the social and cultural narratives that individuals tend to internalize and form the reality is focused on in social constructivism. These two aspects are able to turn down objective reality and instead stress that individual reality is made out of social interactions. The result is that we are continually constructing our life stories through the emphasis of specific aspects while de-emphasizing others (Payne, 2015). This creates a state of equilibrium. However, drugs and alcohol addictions or dependence creates a disruption of this equilibrium.

Concepts of the Narrative Theory & Therapy

Since narratives help us make sense of the world around us, it will involve:

  • Personal Narrative-In this, individuals are able to perceive their identities selectively and then construct narratives that are shared with others. The personal narrative, in this case, is the drugs and alcohol dependence in teenagers.
  • Deconstruction-In this, both the client and the social work practitioner are able to focus on the personal concepts that create the story. The various concepts may root from various levels such as culture, family, social expectations or personal opinions. In this, the practitioner works to encourage clients to detach from narratives that are not life uplifting. In this case, it would be to stand against drugs and alcohol abuse.
  • Externalizing-In this, both parties come to an agreement that the client is not the issue but the social problem itself.
  • Re-Authoring-This involves coming up with new personal narratives that lead to new goals and realities in life. In this case, it would be a drug and alcohol-free life which would boost the productivity of teenagers.
  • Celebrating and Connecting-It will involve the sustenance of new narratives through activities such as therapy notes, letters or even constant reminders of commitments made.

Strengths and Limitations

This approach has numerous strengths in that it is ideal for cultural applications, it has a high accessibility rate and is counseling applicable. It also emphasizes on thinking and action and hence is ideal for people that the society has given up on. As such, it will end up benefiting both the client and the practitioner in the case of drugs and alcohol addictions. However, limitations lie in that it stresses language, it is relative in nature and it involves an indeterminate amount of time.

Transtheoretical Model

This is a model of change that roots from psychoanalysis. The transtheoretical model of change states that change in individuals happens in stages (Monti, Colby & Tevyaw, 2018). As such, treatments and intervention models should match each stage of change. This is because change does not occur in single movements and at the same, it does move in one direction. Note that this model would be ideal in dealing with drugs and alcohol addictions or dependence as it involves:

  • Pre-Contemplation-This is the earliest stage and patients are unwilling to focus on social problems in their lives. In this, most individuals are unconvinced of the existence if a problem and do not see any risk in the current behaviors. The role of the practitioner, in this case, is to boost the awareness.
  • Contemplation-In this stage, individuals acknowledge specific issues in life but are unwilling to change. Alexander (2016) states that ambivalence is prevalent in this stage. Practitioners should aim at highlighting the benefits of change and the efficacy of the treatment techniques adopted.
  • Preparation-Individuals become committed to change but may lack a framework of change. The practitioner should focus on helping them come with plans, skills of change or even general advice.
  • Action-This is the stage that is associated with carrying out the laid out plan. Encouragement, feedbacks, and support boosts individuals to stick to new behaviors.
  • Maintenance-Both individuals and practitioners work to consolidate new behaviors into a new perfect life. Support is vital so as to prevent relapses.
  • Relapse-This is likely to happen though not in all cases. However, it should be considered as a step back and practitioners should encourage clients to start over again in a more careful manner.

Strengths and Limitations

The strengths of the transtheoretical model are its unique ability to tailor into the constructs of individuals with regards to change. It is therefore ideal an individual-based intervention for change. It is also non-threatening and flexible. Limitations root from the fact that it uses cognitive constructs which may have limited applicability to some addictions where chemicals outweigh reasoning. It also ignores the social contexts in which change occurs. The time for each stage is additionally not specific.

Applicability of the Two Theories and Ethical Codes

The above theories will work effectively in social practice when dealing with individuals in all demographic groups that are stuck in drugs or alcohol. Focusing on the NASW code of ethics, it is clear that the above two theories align to it as they help in addressing social problems, challenging social injustices as well as maintaining the utmost dignity of individuals. Additionally, human interactions are fostered and the professional careers of practitioners are boosted as well.


From the above, it is clear that there are numerous models that can be used to facilitate change in individuals. These theories include the narrative theory and the transtheoretical models or change. They can be readily applied to groups or individuals struggling with drugs and alcohol addictions at different levels. As such, these two theories are applicable to diverse demographic populations and help individuals in adding value to their lives.


  1. Alexander, K. (2016). Brief interventions for clients with drug and alcohol issues. Journal of the Australian Traditional-Medicine Society, 22(1), 26.
  2. Charon, R. (2017). Narrative in social work practice: The power and possibility of story. Columbia University Press.
  3. Greene, R. R. (2017). Ecological perspective: An eclectic theoretical framework for social work practice. In Human behavior theory and social work practice (pp. 199-236). Routledge.
  4. Hepworth, D. H., Rooney, R. H., Rooney, G. D., & Strom-Gottfried, K. (2016). Empowerment series: Direct social work practice: Theory and skills. Nelson Education.
  5. Lyman, M. D. (2016). Drugs in society: Causes, concepts, and control. Routledge.
  6. Monti, P. M., Colby, S. M., & Tevyaw, T. O. L. (Eds.). (2018). Brief Interventions for Adolescent Alcohol and Substance Abuse. Guilford Publications.
  7. Närhi, K., & Matthies, A. L. (2016). Conceptual and historical analysis of ecological social work. Ecological social work: Towards sustainability, 21-38.
  8. Payne, M. (2015). Modern social work theory. Oxford University Press.
  9. Tanner-Smith, E. E., & Lipsey, M. W. (2015). Brief alcohol interventions for adolescents and young adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of substance abuse treatment, 51, 1-18.
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War On Drugs: Social Work Measures Among Adolescents. (2021, Nov 25). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/war-on-drugs-social-work-measures-among-adolescents/