Potential of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) for Youth in Alcohol and Drug Education.
Abuse of illicit drugs, marijuana and alcohol among youth has shown an increasing trend over the past 15 years (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2017; Hingson, Heeren, & Winter, 2006). Prevalence of alcohol consumption and other substance abuse is reported to be highest between the ages of 18 to 25 years in the United States. This age group is a very crucial period for a person who transitions from childhood to adulthood, school to college and often into work life. At this age, the majority of people make new friends, experience sexual relations, start work and start living independently with less supervision of parents. For most people, this age brings a lot of excitement, autonomy and at the same time, tremendous psychosocial challenges. Money, relationships, sexuality, friendships, status, success and achievements take on different meanings in their lives (Chassin, Pitts, & Prost, 2002; White, et al., 2006). People want to be successful in whatever they do. However, success is not something that everyone achieves easily. Despite one's well-intentioned efforts, sometimes one cannot achieve success and may encounter several psychosocial pressures, obstacles, failures, frustrations and dissatisfactions which often negatively influence one's thought processes, feelings and actions.
Actions are direct outcomes of feelings and thinking processes. When the thinking pattern is irrational it often leads to problematic behaviors. Ellis's theory based on the tenets of practical, objective, logical and reality-based thinking plays a strong role in transforming irrational thoughts into desired actions or behaviors (Hammels & Yalom, 2009; Romas & Sharma, 2017). When there is limited life experience, as is the case with youth, they find it difficult to rationalize many of their thoughts which originate in their path with independent social interactions, peer influences and psychosocial demands. If thought processes move toward an irrational, dysfunctional side, it often leads to adaptation of negative behaviors. Drinking and substance abuse are common behaviors which are chosen by many young people on the social prescription of peers, in order to compensate for their irrational and often unidentified feelings and thoughts (Crawford & Novak, 2007; Nash, McQueen, & Bray, 2005). Transition from childhood to adulthood and home to college has been found to be significantly related to increases in the frequency of alcohol use and heavy episodic binge drinking (White, et al., 2006). The youth who are entering into adulthood often become highly susceptible for alcohol and drug addiction. Hence, more preventive and corrective interventions should be focused at this age.
Parental monitoring, lowering of sensation-seeking behavior, reducing interactions with friends who use substances and prosocial involvement protect against alcohol and other substance use (White, et al., 2006). In the REBT paradigm, having fewer friends with an alcohol drinking habit, increased parental monitoring, lower sensation-seeking behavior, and prosocial involvement can be construed as the effects of new thinking patterns which act against irrational thinking and reinforces rational thinking and prevents individuals from alcohol use and substance abuse.
According to the REBT, a negative behavior originates from a dysfunctional and disturbed thinking process. The activating events for such irrational thinking can emanate from work pressures and difficulty in establishing meaningful relationships or other psychosocial challenges. Examples of such irrational thinking can be beliefs such as thinking that everyone should love them or approve of them; that they should be always thoroughly competent; that certain people are evil and that they should be punished; that it is disastrous if things do not turn out as planned; that happiness is externally controlled; that one should constantly keep on dwelling on possibilities of negative outcomes; that one should avoid challenges instead of facing them; that challenges are permanent; that one should always depend on others; that one should get upset over other people's problems; and that there is only one solution to any problem (Ellis & Grieger, 1977). The application of REBT principles can be immensely helpful in diverting irrational thought processes of young individuals into rational thought processes. Ellis and his colleagues have attempted to apply REBT in preventing people from alcohol and other drug initiation and addiction behavior (Hammels & Yalom, 2009). Other social scientists have also advocated risk-focused interventions which indirectly lead one to stop the unhealthy initiation of drinking and drug abuse behaviors (Chassin, Pitts, & Prost, 2002; Hawkins, Catalano, & Miller, 1992).
The application of REBT can be a potent method for preventing and helping youth refrain from drinking and substance abuse behaviors. However, more research is needed to evaluate the effects of REBT application in preventing alcohol drinking and substance abuse behavior among youth. More educational interventions of youth based on REBT can be helpful in modifying their thought patterns, dealing with negative feelings, and avoiding actions that can lead to unhealthy and addictive behaviors.
Manoj Sharma, MBBS, Ph.D., MCHES[R]
Editor, Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education Professor, Behavioral & Environmental Health School of Public Health, Jackson State University 350 W. Woodrow Wilson Drive
Jackson, MS 39213
(601) 979-8850 (Phone)
(601) 979-1434 (Fax)
Ram Lukhan, DrPH, FRSPH
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Health and Human Performance Seahury Centre #229 Berea College Berea, KY 40404
lakhanr@berea. edu (E-mail)
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|Author:||Sharma, Manoj; Lukhan, Ram|
|Publication:||Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education|
|Date:||Aug 1, 2019|
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