The basis of this paper is the issue of substance use by peers and the presence of experience of homelessness as a prerequisite for substance abuse at an early age. The problem is serious because the aggravation of it threatens the development of a healthy society. The work consists of the summary of the article that directly concerns the subject, justification of the selection of the theme, as well as consideration of the topic through the prism of the sociology and its three prospects. As a result, the current paper considered the impact of various factors such as recurrent homelessness, drug presence of friends - peers in the level of abuse and dependence on hazardous substances in adolescents.
Peer Substance Use and Homelessness Predicting Substance Abuse from Adolescence Through Early Adulthood
It is no secret that teenagers are the most vulnerable to external dangers and temptations which have a detrimental character. Their minds are not yet formed, and their rebellious spirit directs them to a conscious violation of the rules, which is contrary to established norms. Those teenagers who have had the experience of homelessness or are going through this period in the current time have an even greater emotional instability and suggestibility. The lack of control over their actions by adults, stress together with the state of fear and pernicious influence of the friends can turn a protest or a way to attract attention to the mistake of a lifetime. The reason for this could be the fact that many teenagers, who are living on the streets, begin to use toxic and psychotropic substances, which in some cases can develop into addiction. The problem with how the teenagers who have experience of homelessness begin to use toxic substances, in particular under the influence of their peers, is causing more concern every year.
The Summary of the Article
The article “Peer Substance Use and Homelessness Predicting Substance Abuse from Adolescence Through Early Adulthood” touches the given theme and reveals the results of the researches that deal with the problem of the use of toxic substances by teenagers who have had or currently have the experience of homelessness. The purpose of the article was to investigate the influence of the environment and the people around them, their peers in particular, the conditions in which homeless teens lived or live on the level of use of toxic psychotropic substances by them. In addition, the authors drew attention to how the level of use of alcohol, drugs, and other substances has changed regarding the process of growing up of the adolescents, who were a part of the risk group (Tompsett, Domoff, & Toro, 2014).
To achieve these goals, the authors organized the research study. The objects for the study were people who belong to the risk group, and those who have never had the experience of homelessness and now have stable housing. The anonymous survey on indicators such as the frequency of use of alcohol, drugs and other psychotropic substances, as well as constant monitoring of the current status regarding the availability of housing, was carried out. In addition, the study was designed to examine the people who surrounded the participants. In the process of using social networking interview, participants created a list of their closest friends and indicated the necessary information about them. In particular, the question regarding the use of different types of psychotropic substances and the frequency of the use by close friends was raised in the course of the participants’ survey (Tompsett, Domoff, & Toro, 2014).
According to the research, the significant differences based on race, age or gender between the homeless adolescents and those who have a permanent home were not detected. Analyzing the curves of alcohol and drug dependence in relation to age, depending on the growth trend in later years of the gap between 13 and 26 years became apparent. In addition, research proved the existence of the influence of a friend's use of alcohol to increase the level of abuse of this substance, regardless of the experience of homelessness by any of the parties, thus, over time, this effect becomes weaker. Regarding drug abuse, the study found that the level of influence of fellow addicts does not change with time and age. Summarizing the results, the article focuses on the fact that friends that often use toxic substances and the recent experience of homelessness in most cases are the prerequisite to the abuse of psychotropic substances and even the emergence of the dependence on them in adolescents (Tompsett, Domoff, & Toro, 2014).
During the research, one of the basic groups of the traditional methods has been used. It includes methods for the collection of the field data. It is the primary data that is collected directly by means of interaction with the objects of study. The types of such methods are the survey through questionnaires and interviews, observation, and later - the analysis of the previously collected data as a secondary stage. In addition to standard methods, the authors used hierarchical linear modeling techniques and data processing method using the deviant statistics. The use of this methodological approach guarantees the compactness of data acquisition since the study takes into account both the participants' answers and the results of observation of the change in their behavior in the course of the study. In addition, mathematical and analytical tools take into account the needs and requirements of a particular sociological research.
The Social Aspects of the Subject
The choice of this topic is related to its urgency and significance. The phenomenon of teenage homelessness is becoming more extensive, as the annual number of homeless teens in the United States is about 1.7 million people. In my opinion, the problem of the teenagers who have experience of homelessness, and who start to abuse the psychotropic substances at this stage of their lives, deserves attention, as it threatens the formation of a normal healthy society. Teens are people whose identity is not fully formed yet, and the fact that their formation is completed under the influence of the conditions of homelessness and the negative influence of friends - peers, may become the tragedy of their lives.
This topic relates to sociology as it affects aspects of human existence in the society, the influence of society on the formation of one's worldview and moral and ethical principles. Since the object of study of sociology is the society as a whole, the mechanisms of its structure, as well as interpersonal relationships that are formed within it, this topic refers to the range of the social issues. In addition, the article touches on the point about the factors that influence the decision of teenagers to leave home. The social problem is the fact that the experience of homelessness is dangerous by the increasing of the likelihood of the appearance of dependence on alcohol, drugs and other psychotropic substances among adolescents.
In order to consider this issue from a social point of view in greater detail, it is possible to use three social theories: the functionalist theory, conflict theory and the theory of Interactionist. According to the functionalist theory, society is represented as a complex system, and each member maintains its core values and its integrity. Looking at this issue through the prism of the theory, it can be said that teens who are at risk are the destructively element of the society. Their actions, firstly, are not directed to support its operation but vice versa, and secondly, the behavior of these people is often based on a contradiction in relation to generally accepted principles. Article intersects the functionalist theory in terms of the interconnectedness of the components of society, namely the fact that the people around affect the formation of the human personality, morality and behavior.
Conflict theory in sociology hypothesizes about the nature of the general order in the society. The theory emphasizes the presence of the social, financial and political inequalities in the society, which are the principal causes of the class conflict, in particular. When looking at the research topic through the prism of the theory of conflict, it can be determined that the acute social unevenness, inequality in the family circle (infringement of the rights and freedoms of a teenager) become the reasons of adolescent homelessness. The article also refers to these types of conflict risk factors that can trigger regrowth at leaving homes and the use of banned substances (Tompsett, Domoff, & Toro, 2014).
The interactionist theory focuses on relationships within the society, the identity of its members, considers the nature of subcultures and stresses the importance of the meaning of all that is happening within it. The theme resonates with this theory as it relates to relationships between people, how adolescents are separated from the main social circle, leaving their homes and leading the street lifestyle, trying to stand out. In addition, the article describes such aspects of the theory as the mutual influence of adolescents at each other and also how exactly this relationship evolves over time (Tompsett, Domoff, & Toro, 2014).
Modern society is faced with the problem of the increasing number of homeless teenagers. This question is a significant social problem, because leading the street life, under the influence of conditions of survival and lack of control from the adults, not yet formed completely teenage psyche may be impaired. The negative influence of the peers and the difficult situation can coerce a teenager to abuse of harmful substances. The analyzed article gives an opportunity to see the overall picture of the problem, its causes, factors that influence it, and the possible consequences of this problem. The study also showed how strong might be the pressure of the peers who use alcohol and drugs on homeless teens and how the power of this influence varies with time. This issue deserves attention. The adolescents represent the future generation of the society, so their worldview and morality will directly affect the society as a whole.