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The social organizations which include socioeconomic conditions, the social environment and infrastructure, political participation, and cultural norms have the power to influence whether positively or negatively, risk generating situations, risk-taking behavior, and most of all, risk itself as Gruskin (2001) pointed out. According to Filho, et al. (2015), knowledge of drugs that is focused on the substance, without greater understanding of how complex it is and its social and economic consequences can stimulate a distortion of reality. Vulnerability limits the extent to which people are capable of making and generating free and informed decisions. Greater vulnerability is likely to lead to greater involvement in risk generating situations and risk-taking behaviors, both of which increase the risk of poor health outcomes (Gruskin, 2001).
Adolescence is a critical and fragile phase in which contestation and inquisitiveness is present. Teenagers are curious, subject to influences, social rules and peer pressure (Filho, et al., 2015).People who are used by just listening to people and the media about different types of drugs, their effects and pleasures are more likely to make inferences based on their prior knowledge without allowing themselves to evaluate whether their source is reliable, truth and have undergone validation(Filho, et al., 2015). Inaccurate information may lead the general public to support drug policies based on invalid suppositions that is why it is important to know the correctness of drug-related knowledge of the public (Bryan, Moran & Farrell et al., 2000).
According to the report on countering prejudices about people who use drugs perception by the Global Commission on Drug Policy (2017), providing information which is incomplete and often even incorrect lessens any chance of trust between the authorities and young people. They also added that the perceptions of people are greatly influenced by the media and that the way a person speaks also affects one’s perception because the language used when speaking about the people who use drugs has a great impact.Increasing the knowledge and awareness of adolescents about substances should also be accompanied by other strategies like family and community-based programs to assure better response and optimize education and influence (Alhyas, et al., 2015).
The youth values relationship so much as they seek for love, attention, guidance, and sense of belongingness and these matters cannot just be addressed by mere law enforcement. An educated, compassionate and coordinated response from the environment of an individual which includes the following: a) parents; b) other members of the family; c) friends; d) faculty and staff; e) community officials; f) religious communities; and g) law enforcement agencies is what it takes for an individual to know and to become aware that they are loved, supported and belonged (Caday, 2017). Family dynamics shows an important part in youth development, and competent parenting is a powerful protective factor. Good relationship among the members of the family has been a foundation to the youth’s behavior not engaging themselves to substance abuse. In contrast, parental conflicts serve as a significant risk factor for youth substance abuse (Yip, Cheung, Tsang, et al., 2011). The way the family functions can be affected by addiction. It changes how families interact, relate and the roles that each member plays (Choate, 2015). Adolescents who used substances had conﬂicts and poor relations with their parents (Alhyas et al., 2015).
The influence of peer pressures must not also be taken too lightly as one of the causes of drug abuse. As a way of seeking acceptance, drug users try to convince other people to join them as other people also seek for belongingness in a way that they could also be accepted. The characteristics of the peer group influence the impact of positivity and negativity of peer pressure.Ignorance about the dangers of illegal drug use also affects individuals to think that taking drugs is experimentation and substances are not dangerous. If the drugs satisfy what the individual is seeking, then their lack of knowledge about the health consequences lets them in continuing to use it. The users only realize its dangers when it is too late for them to stop taking drugs (Caday, 2017).
Moreover, the impact of peer pressure on the behavior of teenagers is considered as one of the most inﬂuential factors in substance abuse. The power of peers in enforcing the behavior of substance abuse was greater than family’s protective role. The role peers play in either increasing o8r decreasing substance use among teenagers. Peers were also considered to be the access channel for obtaining drugs (Alhyas et al., 2015).Another factor of the illicit-drug use among youth is Religiosity.
Extreme weakness of the foundation on spiritual and moral values is one of the top root causes of drug abuse among university students (Caday, 2017). Religion and spirituality have a significant role in both preventing and treating substance abuse. Religiosity in the form of religious beliefs and practices was also viewed as a strong resilience and resistance factor against substance use. Praying helps people relax and takes away any negative thinking (Alhyas et al., 2015).It has also been a protective factor against substance abuse. First, it becomes a form of social norm and guides people’s behaviors. Second, the spiritual community and family’s religious values supports discouragement of substance use including the involvement of the youth with peers who are less likely to be using drugs.
Third, a relation with God or a Supreme Being often produces a psychological or physical reaction that satisfies an individual’s spiritual, physical and mental needs (Yip, et al., 2011).Also, the role of school which impacts the illicit drug-use in adolescents must be enhanced (Alhyas, et al., 2015). The study of Jodati, et al. (2007) suggested that, to create more positive campus culture regarding illicit drug use, efforts are needed in emphasizing academic study’s importance, creating an environment for students that would make them stress-free individuals, enhancing one’s social and physical aspects through recreational activities, setting up alcohol and drug awareness counseling programs and strengthening of parent-school communication.
The presence of School Anti-Drug Abuse Council in the school, drug abuse prevention activities, and the concern of faculty and staff to student’s needs and problems can greatly contribute to the students’ awareness and behavior towards illicit drug-use (Caday, 2017).In the study of Alhyas, et al. (2007), it is stated that inspection of bags, conducting awareness campaigns within the school, carrying out blood tests for students transferring from one school to another, counselors raising awareness of drugs and related harm, teachers with the help of counselors talk about the harms of drugs are needed to lessen substance use. Additionally, school-based programs using prevention programs in raising awareness about the harms of illicit drugs and in reducing the prevalence of substance abuse among students are effective. In order for this to become effective, proper method of information delivery among the students and proper implementation of school-based programs must be done for it is important in the enhancement of protection and reduce of the occurrence of illicit-drug abuse among students.
Finally, the community has also a big impact in this matter. Increasing the knowledge and awareness of adolescents about substances should go together with other strategies such as family and community-based programs to guarantee better response and optimize education and persuasion (Alhyas et al., 2015). A well-organized community will have a few economic and social problems wherein young people are less likely to abuse illegal substances. Similarly if the community is intolerant of illegal drug abuse, the likelihood of youth accessing such substances is quite low. Favorability of societal norms to drug abuse or exposure of youth to public drunkenness and selling of drugs pushes the youth in the risk of drug dependency (Ndondo, n.d.).
The literature and studies reviewed conveyed important ideas on perceptions and attitude of youth towards narcotic drugs. Most of those cited studies revolved around perceptions on drug-related issues affected by the surrounding environment and the factors which affect the use of illegal drugs among adolescents.It has been discussed that vulnerability affects how the youth views narcotic drugs and how they are more likely to indulge themselves in using it. It has been stated that the more vulnerable the youth is, the more they are influenced by those things around them. They are inquisitive and so curious about the world. Moreover, being vulnerable also makes them ignorant, have misconceptions, inaccurate knowledge about narcotic drugs especially that they are exposed to media.
Additionally, factors that affects the youth in engaging themselves in narcotic drugs are family relationship, peer pressure, religiosity, the school and the community. Family relationship includes how strong their bond is and how open they are to each other. Good relationship among the family makes the youth to avoid the engagement of themselves to narcotic drugs. Peer pressure has also been a factor for the youth seeks belongingness to his or her peers and that seeking may lead them in doing things which can harm them or can benefit them.
Another is their religiosity. A strong foundation in the spiritual is more likely to lead them on not engaging themselves to any harmful materials. Also, the school influences the youth’s behavior for this is where they spend most of their time aside from their homes and this is where they meet the persons who would become their friends and would influence them whether positively or negatively. Finally, the community also portrays a big role in the youth’s awareness. If it is a community that concerns about the welfare of the people and not favorable of the use of narcotic drugs, then its people will engage themselves less in substance use.
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