Adolescent Alcohol Use As A Public Health Problem

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This paper hypothesizes that the outcome, adolescent alcohol use, is not only the product of multilevel influences, but also of risk factors accumulated over the individual’s life course, and presents a graphic conceptual framework in order to demonstrate this. Adolescence is defined herein as 10-19 years of age, in accordance with the WHO definition. Alcohol use is defined as the ingestion of alcohol. Adolescent alcohol use is a public health problem because of its consequences, which include car accidents, substance abuse and substance abuse disorders in adolescents and in later adulthood, and negative impacts on the brain and its development. Structure of the Framework The conceptual framework has two axes, representing time and…show more content…
The “national” level refers to the overarching context in which all members of a political community find themselves. It is at this level that laws and other policies which affect all members of the community are set. The “community” level refers to the local context in which the adolescent finds him or herself, and includes local laws/local enforcement of national laws, people and places (such as neighbors and liquor stores). The next two levels are school and family, and finally the “individual” level refers to all of the elements that make up the individual: genetics, behavior, experience over the life course (this is where the vertical axis interacts with the horizontal axis at the individual level), and the cognitive processing which ultimately leads to the outcome. The colors represent the accumulation of load. Accordingly, the highest level, national, is very light in color. At the individual level, the color is darkest, signifying the accumulation of the influences/risk factors associated with all of the levels. A multi-level and life course perspective is crucial to understanding the outcome, adolescent alcohol use. The multi-level perspective is essential because no individual exists in a vacuum and “psychopathological processes occur within and across multiple levels of functioning, from molecular or genetic to family, peer, cultural, or solar systems; therefore, multiple disciplines and
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