The use of substances visibly affects teenagers in Greenwich Village, a neighborhood in Manhattan, New York City. Nevertheless, studying this population can help tackle this matter and extend support to them. The artistic and bohemian community’s allure, developmental vulnerabilities, and peer influences make them susceptible to substance experimentation and misuse. This essay will examine three specific social problems affecting these teenagers. In addition, the exploration will cover the influences behind each issue, the population’s risk factors, and the resulting impact on individuals and society.
Substance use in Greenwich Village significantly impacts teenagers, usually aged 13 to 19. There are multiple causes behind this. Adolescence is a critical developmental stage characterized by increased curiosity, novelty-seeking behavior, and the desire for peer acceptance. Trying drugs becomes more likely for them. The role of peer influence is substantial in this phase. Despite knowing it is not a wise decision, experimenting with substances can be driven by teenagers’ desire to belong to social groups. Furthermore, drug use in media and social settings can present a glamorous and normalized image of substance abuse. This can further influence teenagers’ attitudes and beliefs about drugs. These factors highlight the influences of substance use on teenagers. This necessitates targeted prevention and intervention efforts to support their well-being and promote healthier choices during this critical life stage.
Social Problems Impacting the Population
Various social problems in Greenwich Village impact teenagers and lead to substance use. Drug use among teenagers is often influenced by peer pressure, making it a significant social problem. The social pressure of fitting in or being accepted within their peer groups is a common challenge teens face (Henneberger et al., 2021). Individuals often feel pressured to experiment with drugs to conform or establish their worth among friends. The wish to be considered ‘cool’ or the desire to escape being isolated can cause adolescents to make regrettable choices related to drug consumption. They might give in to peer pressure despite their initial hesitation.
The absence of positive role models can influence a teenager’s drug use. Seeking validation or seeking an escape, teenagers may turn to substance abuse if they lack guidance and support from responsible adults. Teens can receive encouragement, advice and witness healthier coping mechanisms from positive role models (Motyka & Al-Imam, 2021). Support and guidance from them can aid young individuals in effectively handling difficult situations and making positive choices. Without such role models, teens may resort to drugs to cope with stress, anxiety, or feelings of inadequacy. However, offering them alternative approaches for managing such emotions is crucial.
Media influence and glamorization of drug use is another significant social problem affecting teens in Greenwich Village. Substance use in popular media can contribute to the glamorization of substance abuse. Distorting its consequences is something it can also do. Due to their vulnerability to media influence, teenagers might be more prone to trying drugs if they observe their beloved celebrities or influencers using them without any apparent adverse outcomes (Motyka & Al-Imam, 2021). Educating them about the potential dangers and consequences of drug use is crucial. The misconception that drug use is glamorous or normal among teenagers can be attributed to this distorted representation. This misconception can normalize and increase drug experimentation.
Factors influencing each social problem
These social problems have multiple influences. Social acceptance norms influence peer pressure and social impact. If drug use is considered normal or acceptable among a teenager’s peer group, they might be more prone to partake in drug use to obtain social acceptance (Henneberger et al., 2021). The inclination to conform and be part of their social circle can push teenagers towards engaging in substance use. This happens even if they might have reservations about it initially.
One factor that influences the lack of positive role models is community programs and initiatives. The availability of community-based programs and initiatives that provide positive role models and mentorship can shape a teen’s exposure to healthier alternatives. Access to positive role models through community programs increases the probability of teens being positively influenced and participating in activities supporting well-being (Motyka & Al-Imam, 2021). Drug use is also something they tend to avoid.
The influence of advertising and product placement on the media’s glamorization and promotion of drug use is also significant. Impressionable teenagers can develop a positive perception of drug use due to the subtle or explicit advertising of substances in advertisements and media (Motyka & Al-Imam, 2021). It should be emphasized that responsible advertising and media practices can significantly contribute to avoiding such associations. Teenagers’ exposure to positive representations of drug use in media can shape their perceptions and attitudes. Curiosity and experimentation can potentially arise from this influence.
Risk Factors Associated With Each Social Problem
The population has particular risk factors, including limited media literacy, a history of substance use in the family, and low self-esteem. These factors can significantly affect the likelihood of substance abuse and addiction. Low self-esteem substantially increases the risk of falling into peer pressure and succumbing to social influence (Henneberger et al., 2021). Young adults who experience a lack of self-assurance may utilize drugs as a mechanism to find temporary comfort or evade feelings of insufficiency. Despite this, such actions may have severe outcomes and further deteriorate their self-esteem concerns. Adolescents grappling with their self-worth may resort to substance abuse to conform to their social circle or find a feeling of inclusion and approval. However, it is essential to recall that this is not a beneficial or enduring answer.
A family history of substance use is a significant risk factor associated with a lack of positive role models. The likelihood of teens following patterns of substance abuse is higher when there is a family history of it, influenced by genetic and environmental factors. Being raised in an environment where substance use is common can make these actions appear ordinary and standard (Motyka & Al-Imam, 2021). Experimentation risk may also be heightened.
Limited media literacy is a vital risk factor associated with media influence and glamorization of drug use. Young individuals with a restricted comprehension of the manipulative methods employed by the media may be more vulnerable to accepting and internalizing glorified representations of drug consumption (Motyka & Al-Imam, 2021). By receiving the proper education and being aware, individuals can cultivate critical thinking abilities to distinguish truth from misinformation. Media literacy skills help discern between reality and fiction in media content. The absence of these skills could make teenagers more vulnerable to unrealistic or exaggerated depictions of drug use.
Impact of Each Social Problem on Individuals and Society
The profound impact of these social problems on individuals is significant. Conforming to peer group expectations can cause individuals to experience increased anxiety, stress, and internal conflict due to peer pressure and social influence. However, it should be noted that not all peer pressure is negative. The fear of rejection or judgment from friends can cause emotional turmoil, affecting their overall well-being (Henneberger et al., 2021). The increased rates of addiction and substance abuse disorders in the population can be attributed to the influence of peer pressure on teenagers and their drug use. However, not all teens who dabble in drugs will eventually struggle with addiction or substance abuse disorder.
Isolation may be a consequence of not having a positive role model. Teenagers lacking positive role models may experience feelings of loneliness and isolation (Motyka & Al-Imam, 2021). They lack someone who can offer them guidance or emotional assistance. Contrariwise, the lack of positive role models affects society by weakening the social fabric. The inadequate presence of positive role models can obstruct the advancement of responsible, empathetic, and proactive individuals. The weakening social fabric can result in decreased community engagement and reduced support networks.
Substance abuse can become normalized when the media influences and glamorizes drug use. Normalizing drug behavior can result from the media glorifying it (Motyka & Al-Imam, 2021). Teenagers may find it appealing or even desirable. This can distort their perception of the risks and consequences of drug use. The strain on support systems has repercussions on society. The strain on law enforcement, healthcare, and social support systems can escalate as teenagers engage in more drug experimentation and consumption. This strain requires more resources to address the resulting issues.
In conclusion, substance use among teenagers in Greenwich Village is a complex issue influence by peer pressure, lack of positive role models, and media representations. Addressing these social problems requires human services professionals to implement targeted prevention and intervention strategies. To combat the impact of substance use, they need to offer assistance, knowledge, and tools to empower teenagers and their communities to make healthier decisions.
Henneberger, A. K., Mushonga, D. R., & Preston, A. M. (2021). Peer influence and adolescent substance use: A systematic review of dynamic social network research. Adolescent Research Review, 6, 57-73. https://sci-hub.se/https://doi.org/10.1007/s40894-019-00130-0
Motyka, M. A., & Al-Imam, A. (2021). Representations of psychoactive drugs’ use in mass culture and their impact on audiences. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(11), 6000. https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/18/11/6000