Teen Alcohol Initiative in Emmanuel County, Georgia
Currently, abuse of alcohol and other drugs by teens is an issue of
major concern and calls for drastic measures to curtail the habit. It is
estimated that about 15.2 % (119,000) of adolescents in Georgia used
alcohol in September 2013 while 8.6 % (67,000) of them engaged in binge
drinking (Georgia Teen Drug Rehab, 2013). The researchers defined binge
as the tendency to consume at least five drinks in one occasion in at
least one day within the last or past 30 days. Similar to adults who
consume alcohol teens have distinct reasons for engaging in this risky
behavior ranging from escapism from hard situations to search for
pleasure. Other reasons include bullying in school (Swanhn, Topalli,
Strasser, Ashby & Meyers, 2011) and poor communication between teens and
their parents (Turrisi, Hughes, Wiersma, 2000). Give that teens are
subjected to pressure of alcoholism from a wide range of factors, their
rehabilitation and behavioral change calls for effective measures
including active participation by the community in learning and
interpreting the implications of teens’ alcoholism.
The purpose of the proposed study is to evaluate the causes of teens’
engagement in alcoholism and involve the communities in Emanuel County
in interpreting the data on alcohol abuse among the teens. At teenage,
most children are at the high school level of academic or college
fleshers. This implies that teens are no longer under the full control
of their parents, but under a multiple forms of authorities including
teachers when they are in school, parents when they are at home, and
government when they are not in either of the institutions. To this end,
the proposed research will address two major questions first, what
factors arise in any of the three institutions that results in teens’
engagement in alcoholism? Secondly, how communities can be empowered to
help in countering teen alcoholism in their local areas?
Scale of alcoholism among the teens
There are several publications that have sought to estimate proportions
of teens at the risk of excessive consumption of alcohol. A report by
the McMorris, Catalano, Kim, Toumbourou & Hemphill (2011) attributed the
inclining trend in teen alcoholism to adult-supervised drinking. The
report showed that about 67 % of the teen in Victoria had consumed
alcohol at least once under the supervision of an adult. In addition,
the report indicated that the teens experienced the negative effects of
overconsumption of alcohol (including inability to stop further
drinking, engagement in fights, and experiencing blackouts) as early as
ninth grade. Although research on teens’ alcoholism in the county of
Emanuel is limited, an overall research conducted to assess the
prevalence of this risky behavior approximated that over 382,000 of
Georgian youths aged between 12-20 drink alcohol each year (The Council
on Alcohol and Drugs, 2010). Surprisingly, about 4 % of them drink
alcohol within the school facility. The report also indicated that the
negative effects of irresponsible alcoholism (including violence, risky
sexual activities, traffic crashes, and property crime) among the
Georgian teens cost the citizens of Georgia about $ 1.7 each year.
Factors contributing to teen alcoholism
Different researchers have identified several risk factors that increase
the likelihood of teens engaging in excessive consumption of alcohol. A
research by Turrisi, Hughes, Wiersma (2000) established a positive
association between binge drinking among college students and mother
teen communication and drinking beliefs. The researcher assessed binge
drinking behavior among the freshman college students ad identified that
alcohol increased normative approval and negative effects among the
teens. According the findings of the research many binge drinking teens
belief that alcohol can make positive transformation and this results in
their engagement in their risky behavior such as driving while drunk.
Longitudinal research studies established a relationship between
adolescent alcohol initiation with the teens’ tolerance towards
deviance, teens being brought up by parents who take illicit drugs,
social depression, and prior engagement in other risky behavior such as
smoking, and lack of closer association with parents (Donovan, 2004). In
addition, adult consumption of alcohol in presence of teens and teens
use of alcohol under the supervision of adults increase the possibility
of their engagement in binge drinking. According to McMorris, Catalano,
Kim, Toumbourou & Hemphill (2011) 36 % of the ninth grade Australian
teens and 21 % of the ninth grade American teens who once experienced
the negative effects of irresponsible drinking had consumed alcohol with
an adult present at one point in their life.
A cross-sectional study of teens’ alcoholism in Georgia attributed
teens irresponsible drinking to bullying at high school (Swanhn et al.,
2011). The researcher identified that 24.4 % of the Georgian teens
attributed their health risk behavior of abusing alcohol to the bullying
experiences they went through at high school. Categories of bullying
examined include grade level, sexual harassment, and ethnicity.
Moreover, bullying factors that resulted in teen alcohol initiation
include perpetration and victimization.
The contextual action research is the most appropriate approach for the
proposed research. This is because contextual action research takes a
democratic form by facilitating the participation of all the stakeholder
in the process of pursuing a given worthwhile human purpose through that
is founded in a participatory worldview (Taylor, 2001). In addition, the
collaborative nature of action research facilitates its application in
improving practice, which involves the performance of actions,
evaluation of effectiveness of the actions, and critical reflection that
is based on the evidence gathered from a participatory process (McNiff,
2013). This approach will help the researcher in accomplishing the
purpose of the proposed research, which is to involve the communities in
Emanuel County in interpreting the data on alcohol abuse among the
The proposed study will seek for the participation of stakeholders from
two different fields of professional. The first, group will include 15
staff from teen rehabilitation centers in every workshop session.
Members of this group are useful to the research because of the
knowledge and experience in behavior change among teens who engage in
substance abuse. The second group will comprise of 10 community health
workers in every workshop session. The criteria for selection of
participants will include a one year service in their respective fields
in order to ensure that all participants are acquainted with the topic
alcohol abuse among the teens. All participants will be selected using a
simple random approach to avoid bias.
The study will be conducted in Emanuel County, which is located in the
state of Georgia with a population of 22,000 people. Although facts
about alcoholism among teens in Emanuel County in specific are rarely
documented, the county is located in Georgia, which ranks at position 39
in teens abuse of alcohol (Governor’s Office for Children and
Families, 2010). The researcher will be targeting to recruit
participants from active rehabilitation and community health workers in
The proposed research will be accomplished through a series of community
workshops that will be conducted in different parts of Emanuel County.
The main objective of these workshops will be to provide a platform for
information sharing among the stakeholders, which will eventually help
in interpreting the data on the increasing trend of abuse of alcohol
among the teens. In addition, the community workshop will provide an
opportunity for stakeholders from different field (youth rehabilitation
and community health) interact and take part in interpreting the data.
The workshop program will be geared towards the identification of
factors that increase the probability of teens’ engagement in abuse of
alcohol with emphasis on measures that can be taken to reduce this
health risk behavior.
The data will be collected by means of focus groups where each workshop
will consist of two groups comprising of participants from
rehabilitation centers and the other groups comprising of community
health workers. The researcher will guide the participants using
pre-determined set of topics all of them addressing the issue abuse of
alcohol among the teens. The criteria for selection of focus groups
include its capacity to provide interpretations of research data that
has been collected through quantitative methods (Center for Disease
Control, 2008). The focus group guiding questions will seek to address
the major factors that professionals perceive to the major risk factors
for teen alcoholism, effective methods to counter this behavior, and
their insight into ways in which these approaches can be improved. Focus
group sessions will be recorded by taking notes of sense of every
participant and digital recording of all the workshop sessions.
The data collection phase will follow the steps outlined in the scheme
provided by O`Brien (2001). The pre-workshop process will include the
introduction of the research to focus groups, review of objectives, and
outlining the process. The focus group session one will involve the
scanning of the issue of alcohol abuse among the teens with a focus on
past and present context, assessing the current situation, and outlining
the probable future of the situation. The focus group session two will
involve the setting of long-range visions and alternatives. The focus
group session there will involve searching for options for change. This
will be concluded with task group sessions followed by sacral tasks such
as distribution of report, follow-up contacts, feedback on proposed
actions, and continuing evaluation of outcomes.
The researcher will first get acquainted with the data by transcribing
it and creating Microsoft word files for each set of data. The data will
be coded for meaning and not word for word or paragraph for paragraph. A
brief discussion of the differences between codes will be provided. The
researcher will utilize the general inductive approach to analyze the
data. The meaning of the data will be derived by developing conceptual
categories that will interpret that data for the researcher. The general
inductive approach is the most appropriate for the proposed research
because it will help the researcher in taking the consideration of the
research objectives (an inductive perspective) and interpretation of the
of raw data (inductive perspective) while conducting analysis (Thomas,
The major strength of the proposed study is the use of interactive and
participatory approach, which has not been used in the previous studies.
In addition, the use of random sampling technique enhances the
generalizability of the findings of the proposed research. This implies
that there will be a possibility of extrapolating the results into teens
in other geographical locations. However, the consideration of the teens
in the proposed research will limit the generalizability of the findings
to other age groups especially the adults who are abusing alcohol.
Center for Disease Control (2008). Data collection methods for program
evaluation: Focus groups. Atlanta: Center for Disease Control.
Donovan, E. (2004). Adolescent alcohol initiation: A review of
psychological risk factors. Journal of Adolescent Health, 35 (6), 8-18.
Georgia Teen Drug Rehab (2013). Drug and alcohol abuse among teens in
Georgia. Georgia Teen Drug Rehab. Retrieved October 15, 2013, from
Governor’s Office for Children and Families (2010). Fact Sheet:
Underage drinking. Atlanta: Governor’s Office for Children and
McMorris, B., Catalano, R., Kim, M., Toumbourou, J., & Hemphill, S.
(2011). Influence of family factors and supervised alcohol use on
adolescent alcohol use and harms: Similarities between youth in
different alcohol policy contexts. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and
Drugs, 72 (3), 418-428.
McNiff, J. (2013). Action research: Principles and practice. London:
O`Brien, R. (2001). An Overview of the Methodological Approach of Action
Research. In Roberto Richardson (Ed.), Theory and Practice of Action
Research. Toronto: University of Toronto.
Swanhn, H., Topalli, V., Strasser, M., Ashby, S. & Meyers, J. (2011).
Pre-teen alcohol use as risk factors for victimization and perpetration
of bullying among middle and high school students in Georgia. Western
Journal of Emergency Medicine, 12 (3), 305-309.
Taylor, M. (2001). Action research in workplace education. Fredericton:
The Council on Alcohol and Drugs (2010). Alcohol: The worst drug of all.
Barfield: CWK Network Incorporation.
Thomas, R. (2002). Qualitative research methods, data gathering and data
analysis. Auckland: University of Auckland.
Turrisi, R., Hughes, K., Wiersma, A. (2000). Binge-drinking-related
consequences in college students: Role of drinking beliefs and
mother-teen communication. Psychology of Addictive Behavior, 14 (4),
342-355. doi: 10.1037//0893-I64X.14.4.342
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Teen Alcohol Initiative in Emmanuel County, Georgia