Social Science Disciplines

Social Problem

Social Science Disciplines

Issues Affecting the Population

Policy Solutions

Adolescents are a vulnerable segment of the

population who experience challenges when

growing up. Research conducted shows that

there is a strong correlation between the

occurrence of mental disorders and substance

use disorders in the adolescent population that

needs to be addressed from the perspectives of

different social sciences.






Substance abuse disorder is recognized as a

significant health problem among adolescents

worldwide. Godley and colleagues (2014)

placed a strong correlation between SUDs

and co- occurring mental disorders, which is

important in their etiology and prognosis. The

abuse of substances is associated with

numerous mental disorder such as anxiety,

depression and ADHD, among others. These

disorders account for up to 75% of all mental

conditions in the adolescent demographic

group (Zhou, Qin, Del Giovane, Pan, Gentile,

Liu & Xie, 2015).


Research indicates that 20- 30% of the

adolescents who are depressed also have a

history of substance abuse and some have

attempted suicide (McManama, Kimberly,&

Berzin, 2012).


In cases where mental disorders existed, the

addition of substance abuse only worsens the

condition. Substance abuse may also trigger

mental illness in adolescents, or increase their

vulnerability of developing a mental illness

later in life (Bayles & Villalobos, 2015).

Societal Implications

Social sciences such as psychology, sociology

and political science will view and address the

issue in a variety of ways. It is important that

all these perspectives are explored so that

appropriate solution and interventions can be

put in place.

The treatment of SUDs and mental illnesses is faced

with a lot of barriers as outlined by Bayles and Villalobos

in 2015.


• Adolescents may be reluctant to seek treatment

• They may downplay the severity of their condition

• Cost of treatment is prohibitive

• Reluctance to place children in treatment

• Fragmentation and the unavailability of mental health

services in the country, especially in the rural

setting(Korsgaard, Torgensen, Wentzel-Larsen &

Ulberg, 2016).

• Sociocultural factors will also play a role, with African-

Americans less likely to receive the needed

services(Whitesell, Blanchard, Peel & Brown, 2011).


• Most of the youth found in the juvenile system have a

history of SUDs, mental issues or both. Welch-

Brewer et al. (2011) reported that as many as 70% of

the youth in the justice system suffer from mental

disorders. Despite this, the system is not equipped to

assess and provide the necessary treatment, posing

a great challenge in recidivism rates (Kretschmar et.

al., 2015).


• There is also limited research on the outcomes of

different segments from the juvenile system. Welch-

Brewer et al. (2011) show that the prevalence of

mental problems varies among the races and

between the genders with whites and females having

a higher prevalence.


• Based on this data, there is need for interventions to

be tailored to fit a particular segment for them to be

effective, rather than one treatment “fits” all.


• There is a lack of adequate research on SUDs among

adolescents. Most of the work done in this area has

targeted the adults and there is a deficit of information

on how such cases among the youth should be

handled (Zhou et. al., 2014).


• The literature available has not fully examined the

developmental phases of adolescence and the

challenges that may be experienced when

administering the interventions (Smith, 2013). This

leaves mental health professionals ill equipped to

serve this population.


• Additionally, the approach used on adults with mental

health disorders will not be effective when handling

teenagers. Smith (2013) states that awareness of this

limitation should be raised among the staff.


• Conflicting policy also affects service delivery and

there is need for more research and education to

improve mental health professionals’ work.


The MHPAEA Act of 2008 targets people experiencing

mental illnesses and SUDs. There is emphasis on parity

in the health care system for patients with mental

disorders, including the availability of medical insurance

to this population.


• Transparency and equality in treatment regardless of

the social class and geographic location of the



• As suggested by Godley and colleagues in 2004, a

collaborative mode of treatment such as the ACRA

should be put in place to target adolescents. When this

is adopted, professionals will be in a position to solve

most of the problems that affect this segment.


• Outreach work such as detailed assessment, multi

systemic therapy and mentoring will be required to

support the service. Policy measures should also be

put in place to address the problem from its roots, and

to help the youth keep off drugs and substances.


• Employ more professionals with an expertise in this

area to administer the appropriate treatment for

adolescents and encourage their rehabilitation.

SUD is a complex problem that requires collaboration

between clinicians, service providers and the society

(Bayles & Villalobos, 2015).


• Instituting rehabilitative measures

• Encouragement of the integration of delinquents back into


• Engagement in sensitization to discourage drug use.

• Support of the families of adolescents with substance

abuse disorders.

• Identification of youth either at risk for SUDs or those

already engaged.

• Restriction of substance abuse among teenagers by

enforcing laws, such as those that prohibit the sale of

alcohol to minors.

• Equal provision of health services to all members of the

community, regardless of their social class.





Bayles, C., & Villalobos, T. (2015). Using mindfulness with

treatment of dual diagnosis in adolescents. The International

Journal of Behavioral Consultation and Therapy, 9(4), 23-26.

Godley, S., Smith, J., Passetti, L., & Subramaniam, G. (2014).

The Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach (A-CRA)

as a Model Paradigm for the Management of Adolescents With

Substance Use Disorders and Co-Occurring Psychiatric

Disorders. Substance Abuse, 35(4), 352-363.


Korsgaard, H. O., Torgersen, S., Wentzel-Larsen, T., &

Ulberg, R. (2016). Substance abuse and personality

disorder comorbidity in adolescent outpatients: are

girls more severely ill than boys? Child and adolescent

psychiatry and mental health, 10(1), 1-9


Kretschmar, J. M., Butcher, F., Kanary, P. J., & Devens, R.

(2015). Responding to the mental health and substance abuse

needs of youth in the juvenile justice system: Ohio’s Behavioral

Health/Juvenile Justice Initiative. American Journal of

Orthopsychiatry, 85(6), 515.

McManama, O. B., Kimberly, H., & Berzin, S. C. (2012).

Examining the impact of psychiatric diagnosis and comorbidity

on the medical lethality of adolescent suicide attempts. Suicide

and Life-Threatening Behavior, 42(4), 437-444.

Smith, M. (2013). Care of adolescents who have mental health

and substance misuse problems. Mental Health Practice, 16(5),



Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

(SAMHSA,2016). Implementation of the mental health parity

and addiction equity Act (MHPAEA). Retrieved from



Welch-Brewer, C. L., Stoddard-Dare, P., & Mallett, C. A. (2011).

Race, substance abuse, and mental health disorders as

predictors of Juvenile court outcomes: do they vary by gender?

Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 28(3), 229-241.

Whitesell, M., Bachand, A., Peel, J. & Brown, M. (2013).

Familial, social, and individual factors contributing to risk for

adolescent substance use. J Addict., 2013, 579310.


Zhou, X., Qin, B., Del Giovane, C., Pan, J., Gentile, S., Liu, Y.,

… & Xie, P. (2015). Efficacy and tolerability of antidepressants in

the treatment of adolescents and young adults with depression

and substance use disorders: a systematic review and

meta‐analysis. Addiction, 110(1), 38-48.




"Is this question part of your assignment? We can help"