A new study has claimed that adolescents addicted to alcohol and other kinds of substance abuse have a distinctively low awareness of other people. The study published recently in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse also claims that addiction-specific behavior in adolescents is characterized by a general disinclination towards volunteering for other people.
Developmental psychologist Dr. Maria Pagano has been working with her team of researchers from the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. She has uncovered a key “dose-response” link between substance use and sensitivity to others.
“The addict is like a tornado running through the lives of others. This is part of the illness. People must understand that the illness has a low awareness of others component that must be addressed.”
The study was designed to consider the relationship between the severity of the addiction in adolescents and their general regard for others. It employed nearly 600 adolescents from a county high school and an Ohio-based residential treatment facility, correlating statistical data on age, gender, and location obtained from these groups. The information was used to study other behavioural patterns of the group that were more relevant to the understanding of their overall ownership of actions particularly in context of their communities.
The findings mapped out a dose-response relationship between severe addiction and the enhanced likelihood of driving under the influence or DUI as well as performing unprotected sex. Dr. Pagano and her team concluded that alcoholics and drug addicts are continuously overcome by a near absence of awareness regarding their actions and their subsequent influence on those around them. More importantly, the study has singled out volunteerism as a key occupation that can enhance the social awareness of younger populations and strengthen their perspective on the world.
According to recent World Health Organization statistics, the abuse of alcohol results in over 3 million deaths annually. It also reveals that, on average, every person aged 15-years or above consumes up to seven liters of alcohol every year. In addition, over 15 million people are said to have drug use disorders while injection-related drug abuse has been reported in nearly 150 countries around the world.
Similarly, according to Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more people died in the United States from drug overdoses in 2014 alone than in any other year previously. It also lists alcohol as the most frequently used and abused drug among younger populations of the United States. Recently, fresh CDC opioid guidelines have also been announced to address the soaring incidence of opioid addiction in the United States.
Recently, U.S. president Barack Obama, while addressing the drug abuse summit in Atlanta, reiterated his country’s resolve to curb heroin and prescription opioid addiction by introducing tangible and far-reaching prevention and treatment measures. He emphasized that drug abuse was more of a public health problem than a criminal problem and urged that a shift in approach was paramount.
“For too long we’ve viewed drug addiction through the lens of criminal justice. The most important thing to do is reduce demand. And the only way to do that is to provide treatment to see it as a public health problem and not a criminal problem. My hope is that it provides a greater spotlight to help solve this problem”
Meanwhile, Dr. Pagano’s work has offered far reaching insights into this challenging territory. She and her team aim to further examine how community works and generally volunteering for others could enhance the people-oriented awareness of adolescent populations that may be susceptible to drug and alcohol abuse.
Case Western Reserve University is a private research university in Cleveland, Ohio. It was established by the federation of Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University in 1967.
[Image via Shutterstock]