CHAPTER 15: Adolescents’ Demographic Profiles and Relationships in the Susceptibility to Drug Use and Sexual Abuse by Iboro F. A. Ottu


One of the most central and ongoing concerns of society is how to help adolescents overcome their transition between childhood and adulthood. This is as a result of the psychosocial complexities surrounding the adolescent at this stage of life. As captured by Martin, Carlson and Buskist (2007), adolescence, which emerged from a Latin source “adolescere” means “to grow into adulthood” and represents the “threshold’ of adulthood. Earlier, Erikson (1968) had described adolescence as a
“psychosocial moratorium”, a period in which, according to Masters et al (2002), “the child begins to experiment with life and with living, testing social and emotional boundaries to see what is acceptable and what is not”. Adolescence has generally been seen as the second decade of the human life span, stretching roughly from the ages of 12-20 years. The World Health Organization (WHO) however sets the age boundaries of adolescents between 10 and 19 years (WHO, 1999).
Adolescent transition is generally premised on many developmental huddles which include biological transition, generally known as puberty; cognitive transition, the many dimensions of adolescent thinking processes; emotional transition, a repertoire of self-assessment cognitions leading to how they, in turn, view themselves, especially in their capacity to function independently; and social transition, the clearly noticeable changes in the ways adolescents spend time with peers, authority figures and family members. These dimensions of adolescent transitional process lead to a complex stream of susceptibilities, which include drug use, smoking, and sexually-related vulnerabilities. Since adolescents are impressionable persons, they are likely to be easily influenced by what appears attractive to their blank minds in the context of their high level of innocence. For example, a number of researchers have confimed that the notion of cognitive susceptibility was originally used in research in
which adolescent participants were examined on the steps and factors involved in taking up cigarette smoking e.g. (Pierce etal., 1996; Hock et al., 2013).
Away from smoking, there are more and more researches revealing adolescent susceptibilities in many other areas of life, including teen pregnancy (e.g. Kirby, 2001), sensation seeking (Donohew et al., 2000) and conflict with authority especially in relation to drug use. It is a long time since researchers engaged their energies in the developmental problems of adolescents and it is to be expected that by now, these problems should have been tackled and efforts appraised along the realm of success. But this has not been so, as adolescents are found with newer sets of problems or other more complex “versions” of older problems.