This chapter introduces the research work by focusing on what the study is all about, the knowledge gap to be filled, the research objectives, the research questions, and the general purpose of the study. Largely, this chapter defines the research and provides the rationale or reasons as to why the research should be done.
The research topic is “Substance Abuse Attachment Theory Based Treatment Plan for Teenage Pregnancy”. As the topic well elucidates, the research is about the application of attachment theory in dealing with the issue of teenage pregnancy. The research looks into elements in the attachment theory and relates them with the reality of teenage motherhood in the hope of arriving at the conclusion that can help in the development of a plan to deal with challenges related to the teenage pregnancy phenomenon.
Research Problem or Issue Being Addressed
Teenage pregnancy has been on the rise all over the world. Substance abuse has been cited to have contributed greatly to the rise in the number of teenage pregnancies (Drake and Mueser, 1996). Many teenagers experiment with drugs and alcohol hence in the end; they form an attachment leading to substance dependency. Substance reduces a teenager’s capacity to control her instincts, hence contributing to 75% of pregnancies that occur between the ages of 14 -21. According to a survey carried out by National Institute on Drug Abuse (1997), about 91% of teens stated that although they were drinking, they did not have an original plan of having sex when they conceived (Drake et al, 1996). Apart from substance abuse leading to increasing teenage sex and resulting pregnancies, substance abuse also causes a lot of problems or challenges during prenatal stages and to teenage mothers. According to Najavits et al (1997), pre-natal drug abuse is a major troubling issue currently present in the world. Pregnant women who abuse substances expose not only themselves but put their unborn children to numerous health possibilities. Drake et al (1996) illustrate that substance abuse-associated birth deficiencies can occur in the form of either mental or physical, which, on most occasions are often severe.
In the United States, statistics indicate that substance abuse among pregnant teenagers and mothers is significant. According to Dickey and Azeni (1996) in the year 2002-03, about 4.3% of pregnant teenagers aged between 15- 24 had used hard drugs in the initial months of their pregnancy in contrast to 10.4% of non-pregnant teenagers in this age bracket. Consequently, about 8.0 %, 15-25 years, were more likely to have tasted hard drugs in the past one month of their pregnancy (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2004).
Based on the foregoing analysis, it is important to find ways of addressing teenage pregnancy and teenage motherhood challenges related to substance abuse. The attachment theory provides a good starting point towards developing a plan to help teenage mothers addicted to given substances. However, before starting to develop such a plan, it is important to study and find out if the given elements work or not. Therefore, this research looks into different elements of the attachment theory to establish whether they can address given problems related to substance-abusing teenage mothers or not.
This research has three key objectives whose attainment would ensure the realization of the research purpose. First, this research is to determine whether the attachment-theory-based psycho-educational program can be an effective treatment for substance-abuse disorder among teenage mothers. By establishing if the program can be used to treat substance abuse-related disorders among teenage mothers, the study will help generate interest among those concerned with teenage mothers. Such interest would be in line with finding and establishing mechanisms based on the attachment theory framework towards helping teenage mothers.
Secondly, this research is to establish whether the attachment-theory-based, psycho-educational program can help in improving the parenting skills of substance-abusing teenage mothers. This is very vital because apart from seeking healing for teenage mothers addicted to substances, there are children in their lives that require attention. Through this research, the researcher will establish in what ways the attachment theory-based program can help improve the parenting skills of teenage mothers who have substance addictions. This is a vital element because the program has to help the teenage mother deal with her addiction to substances while at the same time helping her take to and appreciate her responsibility as a mother.
Finally, this research is to determine whether the attachment theory-based program can help clinicians work with and understand teenage motherhood. The rationale of this objective is hinged on the understanding that it is only clinicians who understand teenage motherhood and related challenges that can help those affected. Overly, the attachment theory-based program should help teenage mothers attached to substances to regain their lives and live productive lives. Such a program should be able to help the teenagers deal with their addiction, find new ways of handling their motherhood, and most critically provide those who care for teenage mothers with an understanding of what they are dealing with.
This study, therefore, will try to incorporate the real causes of substance abuse among teenage mothers and based on the attachment theory provide suggestions as to how a psycho-educational program or plan can be developed to help teenagers desist from substance abuse, become better mothers, and find relevant help from clinicians
Significance of Study
Statistics show that teenage pregnancy has been on the rise not just in the United States of America but in the world at large. There is a strong connection between teenage pregnancy and substance abuse. While some teenagers who get pregnant opt for abortion, there is quite, a sizeable number of teens who embrace parenthood. For most teenagers and their families, however, pregnancy normally gets them unprepared. Pregnancy can be stressful for the teen and the family. Therefore, unless it is well handled, teenage pregnancy can cause a lot of problems and in some instances loss of life due to suicide. Therefore, the first beneficiaries of this research will be teens who are suffering due to given addictions or attachment to substances.
Substance abuse among teenagers has very many dire consequences. One such consequence is teenage pregnancy, which tends to strain a teenager and her family. Among pregnant teenagers, reduced or lower social association or support leads to depression, substance abuse, and increased substance dependence. According to Drake et al (1996), pregnant teenagers have few or limited life goals or ambitions compared to their counterparts. Such teens resort to substance abuse and view it as the only solace they have. Due to such thinking, dependence on substances e.g. alcohol and cigarettes becomes strong each passing day leading to a very strong attachment. The implication of this attachment has shown itself through symptoms such as attention problems, reduced or low IQ, conduct disorder (Dickey and Azeni, 1996). Besides, empirical evidence regarding alcohol consumption during pregnancy has been clear. It has been associated with exposure of the unborn child to the cognitive problem, in other words, if a pregnant teenager drinks, their child tends to have a higher concentration of alcohol substance in their bloodstream (Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, 2001). In this case, over time, the unborn child develops an attachment to alcohol. The strong addiction or attachment placed on these substances has provided a substantial problem for health workers in devising fitting strategies. Hence, presently, it follows; teen pregnancy and substance abuse endeavors to epitomize a subtle and severe social issue calling for effective strategies for containing it (Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, 2001).
Looking at the array of issues associated with substance abuse and teenage pregnancy, this work will help towards finding ways to prevent addiction in the first place. For those affected i.e. the teenage mothers, the study will help develop ways of ensuring they are better mothers and finally for those who work with teenage mothers e.g. clinicians, this research work will help them towards a better understanding of teenage motherhood and ways of helping.
As already indicated, this chapter summarizes what the study is all about and the purposes for undertaking the same. Generally, it provides the background to the research work, which acts as a foundation for further work. The chapter frames the focus of the research by outlining the key research objectives. The research objectives as formulated are aimed at responding to the research problem as defined. By achieving the research objectives, the work will have helped lay the ground for the development of a plan to help teenage mothers who are addicted to given substances.
Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2001). Telling their Stories: Reflections of the 11 Original Grantees that Piloted Treatment for Women and Children for CSAT. Rockville: DHHS Publication
Dickey, B. & Azeni, H. (1996). Persons with Dual Diagnoses of Substance Abuse and Major Mental illness: their Excess Costs of Psychiatric Care. American Journal of Public Health, (86), pp. 973-977
Drake, R.E., Mueser, K.T., Clark, R.E., & Wallach, M.A. (1996). The course, treatment, and outcome of substance disorder in persons with severe mental illness. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry,(66), 1, pp. 42-51.
Najavits, L.M., Weiss, R.D., & Shaw, S.R. (1997). The Link between Substance Abuse and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Women: A Research Review. American Journal on Addictions, (6), pp. 273-283.