Community Health Advocacy: Substance Abuse among Teens
Substance Abuse among teens is a topic that has generated numerous debates, as well as, the need for community health advocacy. Accordingly, the three stages for advocacy proposed by Christoffel can be used to develop a framework to help curb the tendency of drug abuse by tenagers in the community.
Key Words: Substance Abuse, Teens, Community Health Advocacy
Individuals use drugs for a number of health reasons depending on the expected outcome of the drug. Substance abuse refers to the use of drugs for their unintended purposes (Michelman & Rorty, 2011). Put simply, substance abuse occurs when individuals use drugs for mood-altering purposes rather than for health reasons. In essence, the term teenager refers to individuals who are between the ages of 13yrs and 19yrs (Michelman & Rorty, 2011). People in this age group are extremely prone to substance abuse, making the issue of substance abuse an area of concern for the community, as well as, public health officials. The community, this case, refers to a group of people who make up the larger societies and can range from regional communities to the global society. Substance abuse affects the smallest units of a community, which is the family, as well as, the larger, international community making this aggregate a global contagion (Michelman & Rorty, 2011). Substance abuse among teens has since become a public health concern and has called for community health advocacy to reduce its effects in the community setting. Community health advocacy, therefore, refers to the utilization of relevant information and resources to engender collective changes to shape the lives of those who make up the community (Hearne, 2008). In essence, it is campaign towards changes in negative trends and behaviors by members of a community. In relation to substance abuse in teens, community health advocacy can be used to influence teenagers against drug and substance abuse for their benefits.
This paper explores Christoffel’s three stages in a conceptual framework for advocacy, illustrating how these three stages can be used as advocates for substance abuse in teens.
Christoffel’s Three Stages in a Conceptual Framework for Advocacy
In her study about public health advocacy, Christoffel proposes three steps in designing a conceptual framework for advocacy. These stages include, information, strategy, and action, which are used successively and concurrently to ensure a change in behavior by individuals (Christoffel, 2000). The first stage is the information stage, which includes the compilation of all relevant information regarding a public health issue. In the case of substance abuse among teens, the information collected should define the problem, and illustrate the implications of substance abuse to the community.
The second stage proposed by Christoffel is strategy, which refers to the mobilization of the different people involved in the program towards, the application of specific strategies (Ratzan, 2008). Strategies, in this case would be a reduction, if not total abolition of substance abuse in teenagers. This stage comprises of didactic programs on the processes to be used to achieve the set goals regarding substance abuse in teenagers. Conclusively, Christoffel proposes an advocacy or action stage involving the specification and implementation of standards and principles to be followed towards curbing a behavior. In the case of drug and substance abuse in teens, this stage will involve the application of standards to be followed in the community, both in institutional and social settings. For example, schools and other institutions may be presented with principles regarding substance abuse, which are aimed at curtailing the trend and practice of the vice.
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