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Alcohol, drug, depression, sexual behavior, these problems are interact by each other which impose an extremely negative influence on contemporary youth. Apparently, different countries have their own concrete situation and typical phenomena. In the paper, I would like to discuss some effective and useful prevention and intervention approaches depending on Hong Kong.
There are different models of alcohol treatment such as cognitive behavior model, medical model, biopsychosocial approach and so on. Different treatment and intervention plan has different focus and characteristic. Just like education program, a kind of prevalent approach which applied in prevention stages, people hold different version.
The education program is ineffective and has not offered useful knowledge and skills to moderate and reduce the alcohol consumption. (Collins&Keene, 2000). Collins and Keene stated that that “while levels of knowledge can be increased, providing information on alcohol issues and problems does not lead to behavior change”. (2000, p.97) On the other hand, some researchers think education program is necessary especial in prevention stage. Prevention stage are always related with “education”, which provide useful information and knowledge to alert people stay away from drugs and help them make a accurate decision when facing alcohol and drugs. (Akers, 1992)
Besides the education program, cognitive behavior viewed as an effective and useful approach.
Cognitive behavior approach is the most appropriate approach for social workers. Because in the approach, there are lots of skills and methods belong to the social work’s repertoire and it emphasize the responsibility, value, empowerment of clients. (Collins & Keene, 2000).Ray and Ksir (1999) stated that “Some behavior-management approaches have accepted controlled drinking as a desirable outcome and have attempted to teach methods that will imitate alcohol intake.”(P.257). Ray and Ksir argued that behavioral approach can teach clients coping skills. Some behaviors are taught in prevention programs, furthermore, therapists also help clients to focus on high risk situation and teach them how to get through the difficult times. (1999).
Gorgulho and Tamendarova figure out a new approach called social norm marketing .they stated that it is a relatively effective in decreasing extreme drinking and it emphasize on peer norms and pressures. Social norm marketing apply various formal and informal way to offer accurate information of drinking patterns to those young people ,which can eliminate misconceptions and reduce extreme drinking.(2008). Besides, brief intervention and “circle of change” model are mentioned frequently in many authorities. Brief interventions are suitable for young alcohol abusers because these young extreme drinkers always think the alcohol consumption is unproblematic and no necessary to seek help. Brief intervention can be a critical first step in treatment since it provides advice, assessment and referral. (Gorgulho & Tamendarova, 2008). “Cycle of change” model is a practical step to help reduce drug abuse. It focus on seeking the trigger that lead to drug abuse, and understand the risk situation which can provide effective relapse prevention strategies and offer self-talk.(Dominelli,2009). Prevention approach can help underage adolescence stay way drugs to some extent. Spruit stressed that traditional prevention program aimed at improving students’ behavior skills such as teaching them how to cope with peer pressure and make accurate decision. Secondary prevention also called harm reduction, which used by healthy care sector and social care sector; help prevent health deteriorating in the future. (1998).
Beside these effective and professional models and approaches, social workers should consider the treatment environment and family environment of clients during the whole prevention and intervention process. To the underage adolescents who are alcohol abuser, most of them are vulnerable and depressed, so they seek consolation from alcohol. When facing this kind of clients, a safe and trusty environment is critical. Muisener argued that when facing to the clients who have been alcohol abuser or alcohol victims, social worker should provide a safe environment. (as cited in Collins & Keene, 2000, P.103). “social workers can smooth relationship -building, especially in the formation of social networkers that can give people a feeling of being valued, appreciated and belonging to a wider circle of people.” (Dominelli, 2009, p.121)
Actually, not only the treatment environment is important to the teenagers, their family surroundings also influence their behavior and emotions. Due to lots of young drinkers are influenced by family and peer group in school, so school-family programs seem useful and effective. The program aimed at improving the family functioning to prevent drinking problems by family member and adolescence. (Gorgulho & Tamendarova, 2008)
The situation in Hong Kong:
Actually, the alcohol abuse problem among teenagers in Hong Kong has its own characteristics such as unique cultural background, public attention, the reason of family and peer influence and so on.
All the time, alcohol drinking is viewed as a prevalent entertainment and individual lifestyle and has not being viewed as a serious social problem. From my point of view, the alcohol cultural is playing an important role in the whole social activities. People will have a drink after work to relieve pressure. People also will drink alcoholic beverage when some happy events or celebrations happening. Lou and Shek stated that in Chinese culture, people always drink when they meet friends or having family gathering. Because these social -oriented reasons, lots of teenagers begin to drinking. (2006).
In Hong Kong, the teenagers’ alcohol abuse is always associated with five psychosocial factors. They are academic performance, mood, attitude, family attitude and organized criminal groups involvement. Further, Lou and Shek suggested that alcohol abuse brings about many negative consequences to teenagers. The influence include behavioral problem such as fighting, sexual behavior after drunk, participating in crime organizations and so on; healthy problem such as liver or stomach pain and family conflict. (2006). Therefore, the intervention and prevention plan should be established from the five perspectives.
My prevention and intervention plan:
According to the specific situation in Hong Kong, I suggest the prevention/ intervention plan pay more attention on teenagers’ psychological situation, living and studying environment. Because of both of them are the most significant elements which influence the future development of adolescence.
At the beginning, although there are lots of debates about the effectiveness of education program, I still consider education program is a critical part, especially in the stage of prevention. Actually, how to employ education program to improve teenagers’ awareness is significant. The skills, methods, techniques will determine whether the program is effective or not.
To those adolescence that never drink alcohol before, the prevention plan should focus on two parts: education and communication learning.
Education program can provide them current direction and useful information. Adolescence is an important period which imposes a significant influence on a person’s whole life. During the period, children always full of curiosity, and like trying something challenging and experienced change in both mental and physical development. At this time, as a social worker, we should give more advices and pay more attention in case of them go astray.
However, in the education program, we should offer appropriate advice, if we emphasize “do not drink” to much, it will bring about negative consequence. For example, most teenagers at this age are rebellious and they view drinking alcohol as a mysterious adventure and try it secretly. Therefore, in the education program, those kinds of boring lectures maybe ineffective, I suggest social workers should use several vivid forms such as films or real experience to illustrate the negative effect caused by alcohol.
Communicating & learning workshop
Social workers can collaborate with school teachers and staffs to organize some activities to help students understand and recognize the disadvantages of extreme drinking. For example, inviting school students visit several institutions which help cure alcohol abusers. After visiting, social workers can encourage them have a discussion or write a reflection to describe their own feelings. By this method, teenagers can comprehend risk of extreme drinking and form their own opinion rather than achieve sermon passively.
To the adolescence who is ever alcohol user or current alcohol user, the focus of approach is different from prevention plan. Intervention plan emphasize amending the behavior and help them recover as soon as possible in both mental and physical health.
Those teenagers who are extreme drinking in Hong Kong are always associated with similar psychosocial correlation. Some of them are influenced by peer group, some of them are lack of family support and stays in an unsupervised situation which lead them seek consolation from alcohol. Only understanding the reasons and triggers behind, we can find out sound strategies to help them. The assessment should include individual’s family background and situation, individual’s drink pattern and their perceptions about alcohol. From the assessment, social workers can acquire individual’s accurate information which facilitates establishing next plan.
From the five psychosocial elements associated with adolescent alcohol abuse in Hong Kong mentioned above, we can find that Teenagers are easily influenced by their family members and peer classmates. From the perspective of family, social worker should communicate with the client’s parents regularly and find out the disadvantage of the family functioning and parenting pattern. Then give them advice and ask the parents to care about their children more frequently. From the perspective of school, social workers can corporate with teachers and staffs to identify the triggers of alcohol abuse like academic stress, poor relationship with classmates and so on. And help them recognize the high-risk situation and consequence.
Improving treatment environment
Lots of teenagers are less likely to seek professional help to reduce their alcoholism. On the one hand, a part of them view alcohol is unproblematic, on the other hand, they always feel vulnerable and helpless, they are fear to face their psychological problem. Therefore, social worker should provide a trust and safety environment. At the beginning of the counseling program, we can tell clients we will keep secrecy of their basic information and give them more support and encouragement.
Relaxation skill training
There must be some reason lead to people especially teenagers addicted in alcohol. And depression, anxiety and stress these kinds of emotional reactions are often involved with the alcohol abuse. During the intervention plan, social workers can apply some relaxation skills to help adolescent calm down. Helping them release and reduce stress and modify their mood. By the method, we can eliminate their tension and help them stay away alcohol step by step.
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