The systems approachIn applying a broader perspective on drug use and harm minimisation, a young person's drug use can be viewed within a holistic context. The youth-focused systems approach is a useful framework as it helps you to take into account a broad range of factors that impact on young people and their AOD use. Sometimes our tendency is to focus solely on the AOD use, without taking into account the context of that use (e.g. family, peer and/or community factors) which can be very important influences on a young person's pattern of AOD use.
This module will deal largely with interventions aimed at individual factors. However, it is important to be aware of the other aspects of the system, even when dealing with the young person in a one-on-one context, because those factors may influence the outcomes that you are trying to achieve with the young person. No-one exists in isolation.
The following diagram illustrates the factors that influence a young person's life. Each of the factors involves a complex array of influences and situations which can serve as protective or risk factors. These factors can influence the health and wellbeing outcomes for that individual.
Diagram 1: Youth focused systems approachTop of page
Text version of Diagram 1This diagram shows the risk & protective factors that contribute to possible outcomes:
- Local community factors
- Societal & political issues
- Family factors
- Individual characteristics
- School & peer factors.
Identifying possible outcomes for young people
Writing exerciseQuestion - What are some of the possible influences on a young person and their AOD use? Consider your responses in accordance with the categories in the above model. (e.g. individual characteristics – physical health, values beliefs, family factors, abuse and neglect, etc).
Question - Review the youth-focused systems model below. Were your suggested outcomes similar to those listed in the model?
Diagram 2: Youth focused systems approach
Large image of Diagram 2 (GIF 73KB)Top of page
Text version of Diagram 2This diagram shows the risk and protective factors that contribute to possible outcomes.
Possible outcomes include: nature of relationships; health and wellbeing; life opportunities (e.g. education and work); criminal and legal consequences; AOD use and related harm; social inclusion or marginalisation.
Risk and protective factors include:
- Local community factors: population density; housing conditions; urban/rural area; neighbourhood violence and crime; cultural norms, identity and ethnic pride; opportunities for social development; recreational and support services; demographic and economic factors; connectedness or isolation.
- School and peer factors: peer connectedness; school climate and culture; school attendance; opportunities for social connection; norms and values of peers and school; friendships and interests; educational approach/methods; school discipline and structure.
- Individual characteristics: personality and intelligence; gender; cultural background; physical and mental health; social skills and self esteem; sexual behaviour/sexuality; alcohol and drug use; criminal involvement; living situation/homelessness; values and beliefs.
- Family factors: abuse and neglect; family dysfunction; patterns of communication; family income/employment; parents' mental and physical health; consistency of connection; family values, beliefs and role models; family discipline and structure; extended/nuclear family; family size.
- Societal and political issues: laws of society; socio-economic climate; availability of services; social values and norms; social/cultural practices and traditions; popular culture (e.g. movies and music); government ideology and policies; role of media and advertising.