Academic journal article The European Journal of Counselling Psychology

Social Learning Conceptualization for Substance Abuse: Implications for Therapeutic Interventions

Academic journal article The European Journal of Counselling Psychology

Social Learning Conceptualization for Substance Abuse: Implications for Therapeutic Interventions

Article excerpt


Research on an international level suggest that the use of illegal substances is considerably common among young people. On a large scale research among 16,661 participants aged 18 and over, Richter, Ahluwalia, Mosier, Nazir, and Ahluwalia (2002), found that 9% had made use of an illegal substance within the last month of the review, whilst in the review of Webb, Ashton, Kelly, and Kamali (1996), the use of any prohibited substance was reported by 59% of participants.

Particularly, as far as the epidemiology of alcohol misuse among young people is concerned, Dawson, Grant, Stinson, and Chou (2004), noted that 42,6% of students aged 18 to 29 have been involved in a heavy drinking episode at least once at some point within the last year, 2,7% consume alcohol more than once a month and 12,7% once a week. According to the latest report of the World Health Organization, the EU is the heaviest drinking region of the world, with over one fifth of the European population aged 15 years and over reporting heavy episodic drinking (defined as five or more drinks on one occasion, or 50g alcohol) at least once a week (WHO, 2009). It has been pointed out that marijuana is most commonly used, compared to other substances. This is also confirmed by researches in Greece (Madianos, Madianou, & Stefanis, 1995).

In a research on 14.000 students, the frequency of marijuana use during the last 30 days rose from 12,9% to 15,7% between the years 1993 and 1999, which constitutes an increase of 22% (Gledhill-Hoyt, Lee, Strote, & Wechsler, 2000). Similarly, a research that took place in 119 universities showed that cannabis use increased from 13% in 1993 to 23% in 2001. Furthermore, other research reports have demonstrated that an increase is also observed in the levels of other illegal substances use (cocaine, crack etc.) the last 30 days as well as the last year (since the research commencement), given that from 4% in 1993, they rose to 7% in 2001 and from 11% to 14% respectively (Mohler-Kuo, Lee, & Wechsler, 2003)

Illegal substances use in Greece is less frequent compared to the countries of the rest of Europe as well as the countries of the U.S., with a prevalence of 6% in the duration of an individual's life, yet half of the prohibited substances users mention that their use takes place more than once (Kokkevi & Stefanis, 1991). Furthermore, in a more recent review, it was noted that the prevalence of use during the last year as well as the last month (since the research commencement) was also increased from 1% to 4% and from 0,3% to 2,1% respectively. Taken together, these facts demonstrate an increase of prevalence not only among those who occasionally use prohibited substances but also among those who are involved in a more systematic use (Kokkevi, Loukadakis, Plagianakou, Politikou, & Stefanis, 2000).

It has also been observed that young adults aged 18-24 of both sexes, constitute a high risk group since they are more relaxed with regards to issues concerning alcohol consumption and they demonstrate, in comparison to other age groups, the highest levels of excessive use as well as reported episodes due to alcohol use (Kokkevi et al., 2000).

It has been noted that the age period between 18-25 constitutes a special phase, pertaining to certain characteristics that often render an individual vulnerable to getting involved with substances (Arnett, 2005). Indeed, during this period of life, an individual explores his/her identity and experiments with new behaviours, and for some this may include substance use. In addition, the process of establishing one's identity is often a confusing and difficult process, and some individuals may resort to drugs as a way of relieving this confusion. Individuals who have just entered adulthood, are extremely focused on themselves, feel free to make decisions independently and without needing to ensure that permission or consent is granted from others. …

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