5/3/2018 9:58:00 AM Jefferson County adults share thoughts about early alcohol, drug education
At a glance
Identifying the problem
The handout provided during the team’s presentation read:
“According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 70% of adolescents have experimented with alcohol, while 20% have experimented with prescription drugs before their senior year in high school. Alcohol and drug abuse has become a nationwide problem. A small rural community in southern Indiana reports that almost 12% of its population use drugs daily.
The authors hypothesize that current school-based alcohol and drug curriculums are not robust enough to divert risky behavior during adolescence. Surveys were administered to residents living in two separate transitional homes for people with addiction. The surveys consisted of questions regarding drug and alcohol abuse related to childhood education. The process was completed using a descriptive study.
Participants in the study (n=17) revealed valuable information confirming their rationales for substance abuse. Overwhelmingly, all participants agreed drug education needs to be available in early childhood education. As substance abuse escalates, so must our efforts to research and understand the problem. The examination of current adolescent drug and alcohol prevention programs is essential to help promote program evaluation and in identifying potential education needs for our youth.
The conclusions: • Substance abuse continue to escalate at the national level. • Increased efforts to research and understand the problem are vital. • Standardized education provided to adolescents appropriately can lead to more knowledgeable decisions to avoid drug use in adulthood. • The authors suggest implementation of a standardized program, such as Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool (HECAT), which may be customized to fit local needs and could provide the consistent messaging needed to mitigate risky behavior in childhood and adolescence. • HECAT highlights differences in individual and social context to shape values, beliefs, and attitudes, which are essential elements to include in an effective adolescent drug education program.
Three Indiana University Purdue University Columbus students presented research they conducted in Jefferson County last year. Their goal: gain an understanding of how early education about the true costs and effects of substance abuse affects the number of drug addictions, overdoses and deaths.
IUPUC nursing students Megan Bailey, Brilynn Roberts and Shelby Wasson were surprised when they surveyed residents at the Jefferson and Ruth Haven transitional houses in Madison as part of their research.
“I was really nervous,” Bailey told the crowd at New Life Church during a presentation Monday evening. “I don’t know why now though.”
The women said the residents of each house greeted them and treated them with respect and hospitality. Roberts explained the men residing in the Jefferson House at the time were all waiting at the door to welcome them inside and offered them seats once inside.
“It was like they were a family,” said Wasson. “We could see how they helped each other and supported each other.”
Their collective sample for their survey consisted of 17 adults in transition who voluntarily shared their stories of drug and alcohol addiction and their thoughts and beliefs on the drug and alcohol education received when they were kids.
One survey question read: “Why do you think you use or did use drugs/alcohol?” The team read the following anonymous responses: “group of friends,” “for attention,” “to be in the ‘in’ crowd,” “social acceptance,” “to fit in,” “being around it,” “messed up home life,” “step-parent introduced me to weed and I saw him using meth,” “bad childhood,” “being around it,” “not being around my father,” “brother committed suicide,” “family problems,” “to cover up my feelings,” “a need for something more,” “low self-esteem,” “to escape reality,” “resolve my problems or at least numb my pain,” “cope with loss,” “stress,” “I am a believer that I was born an addict.” The team cried, according to Deb Judge, who was their professor when they began the research project a year and a half ago.
“What you’re doing here is working,” said Roberts of the transition houses for those in need of stability and support while overcoming addiction.
The team’s hypothesis was that “drug use and related issues could be reduced with standardized substance abuse education offered throughout childhood and adolescence.”
The girls’ conversations with residents in the Ruth Haven and Jefferson houses told them they were on to something. The residents shared having little or no education about drugs or their effects.
Bailey, Roberts and Wasson were able to make several conclusions: “substance abuse continues to escalate at the national level,” “increased efforts to research and understand the problem are vital,” “standardized education provided to adolescents appropriately can lead to more knowledgeable decisions to avoid drug use in adulthood,” and more.
The team will graduate with their bachelor degrees as published authors. Their manuscript detailing their research will be published in Volume IV of the Indiana University Journal of Undergraduate Research early this summer.
They are already working on their project’s next step: fundraising. The team’s work was selected by the Sigma Theta Tau International 29th International Nursing Research Congress in Melbourne, Australia in July. It will cost about $5,000 for each team member to participate in the congress this summer.
“They are world changers,” said Judge. “You can see it in their eyes.”