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The objective for this assignment is to complete a systematic review of the literature in a content area of your choice, concluding with clear and succinct objectives for a new health promotion intervention based on your assessment of the evidence you consider. Choose an area of research that is of interest to you and of arguable public health signi?cance ,as this will be the basis for the grant proposal that you will develop over the course of the semester (see Assignment 2).

Evidence on the chosen topic

The teenage years are the critical window of vulnerability to the use of various kinds of drugs and alcohol. This is because of the fact that the brain is still developing and malleable and are yet to mature fully. The adolescents starts taking the substance from probably the middle school and by the time these are adults about 70 percent of the high school students will have tried alcohol or must have taken drugs for a non-medical purpose (Victoria State government., 2012).

This paper will explore the evidences to study the trends of the substance abuse among the adolescent population in Australia. Based on the evidences, some research gaps will be identified which will be helpful in the construction of the objectives for future research un this field.

According to the Australian secondary school students, use of tobacco, alcohol and over the counter and illicit substances in 2011, three percent of the Australian middle school students have tried amphetamines, around one in every six 12 to 6 years adolescents had sniffed substances deliberately (Victoria State government., 2012). As per the National drug Strategy Household survey (NDSHS) 2016, around 3.2 million of the Australians reported the use of the illicit drug. The most common form of the drugs used by the Australians are cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy. One of the alarming thing is as per the reports of The Youth Support and Advocacy service, ice had become a primary drug of concern for the Australian adults (Australian Government, Department of health., 2018). There had been a considerable spike in the use of Ice (Metamphetamine) among the teenagers. According to Roxburgh et al., (2016), the use of methamphetamine has remained stable in Australia in spite of the several health promotion strategies taken up to stop the use of Ice. According to the survey of secondary school students, the cannabis use was found to be increased from 13.6 % to about 32.4 % within the year 2012- 2015. In spite of the health intervention campaigns, the drug usage cannot be reduced. (Australian Government, Department of health, 2018)

A systematic review on the trends of the substance abuse among the Australian adolescents will be helpful in the development of the innovative interventions for reducing the rampant use of the substance abuse. Such researches can provide information about the target population and the community based approaches that can be taken to eradicate this issue from the grass root level.

Rationale for this review

Search strategy is the organized way to use proper key terms which will be used by the researcher to find out several relevant research literatures available over databases. The accuracy of the search strategy depends on the proper research question and usage of accurate search terms against them (Al-Ani, Alsukker & Khushaba, 2013). To conduct a successful search strategy, appropriate search items should be searched in proper data resources. For this assignment, the data sources that were involved are Google Scholar, CINAHL Scopus, PubMed and Cochrane within which English language research articles associated with trends of substance abuse within the Australian adolescents were searched. Timeline selected for the searched research articles was 2012 till date so that recent research articles related to the topic could be identified. Searched terms that were chosen for the search strategy included ‘substance abuse’, ‘Australian adolescents’, ‘trends of substance abuse in Australia’. Besides these, the subsequent search includes young substance abusers in Australia, trends of drug abuse in Australia, adverse effects of substance abuse and so on.

The inclusion and exclusion criteria are crucial as depending on this selection of research articles that will be included in the study are decided. Inclusion criteria are factors depending on which an article is included for the systematic review whereas the exclusion criteria is the factor due to which articles are refused to be included in the study (Smith et al., 2014). For this systematic review assessment, the inclusion criteria were as follows:

  • The paper should be published within 2012-date as it will enhance the reliability and acceptability of the research.
  • The paper should be written in English so that its acceptability and availability could be increased.
  • Articles having subjects within the age of 20 will be included in the study as the prime aim of the study is to determine the trends of substance abuse among adolescents of Australia.
  • Studies having detailed analysis of substance abuse trends in Australian perspective will be included for the assessment.
  • Papers published in languages other than English
  • articles having subjects more than 20 years of age
  • Study design, that is not appropriate of systematic review, were excluded from the study.
  • Besides, these research articles having adolescent addiction other than substance abuse will be excluded from the assessment.


                                                              PRISMA diagram for the search strategy (created by the author)

As per the evidences found it can be seen that substance abuse, binge drinking have augmented considerably in Australia. According to Snijder et al. (2018), substance abuse has been found to be greater among the aboriginal adolescents of Australia in comparison to their noon aboriginal counterparts which may be due to several factors like socioeconomic status, their colonisation history, frustration and lack of employment.

A review by Copeland, Rooke & Swift, (2013), have found that cannabis use among the adolescents leads to mental health disorders like schizoaffective disorders, visual hallucinations and other cognitive impairment.

Search strategy

Kwan et al. (2014), have stated that there are several factors that guide the adolescents towards drugs- such as the availability of the drugs from the neighbourhood, school or the community. Physical or emotional abuse, physical violence, mental illness, or the trend of drug usage in the neighbourhood is also a reason for the increased drug usage among the adolescents.

According to Tanner-Smith & Lipsey (2015), community based health promotion programs, screening, web based prevention program, mass media campaign, text messaging interventions, have been suggested as the probable interventions.

Conclusion from the evidences

It can be concluded from the evidences that the adolescent group of people are at the highest risk of experiencing harm due to substance abuse. Substance abuse among the adolescents are posing harm to their physical health as well as the cognitive status that is ultimately impacting their academic career and personal relationships. The research evidences proves that there is a need for the increase of prominence in research, routine screening and interventions for improving the mental health. Internet based mass media campaigns, school programs, active sport participation and community based screening and education has been found to the appropriate options for reducing substance abuse among the adolescents.

The primary aim of this systematic review to understand the trends of substance abuse among the adolescent population of Australia. In this way the review process also aims several objectives so that this major concern could be addressed from the basal level in the society. The objectives are as follows:

  • To educate the community mostly affected with such substance abuse with the adverse effects of their addiction for their own health and the society around (Rose et al., 2012).
  • To provide minimal training to all the healthcare professionals associated with such public health campaign and educating the families having members of substance abuse so that they can understand the management process properly (Van Boekel et al., 2013).
  • to involve both governmental and non-governmental organizations in the public health campaigns against substance abuse and provide them the governmental guideline to successfully conduct such campaigns in their area. This will help to identify the crucial areas where such abuses are present in high frequency (Sobell, Sobell & Ward, 2013).


Al-Ani, A., Alsukker, A., & Khushaba, R. N. (2013). Feature subset selection using differential evolution and a wheel based search strategy. Swarm and Evolutionary Computation, 9, 15-26.

Australian Government, Department of health (2018). .Drug trends and Statistics. .Access date: 13.9.2018. .Retrieved from:

Copeland, J., Rooke, S., & Swift, W. (2013). Changes in cannabis use among young people: impact on mental health. Current opinion in psychiatry, 26(4), 325-329.

Kwan, M., Bobko, S., Faulkner, G., Donnelly, P., & Cairney, J. (2014). Sport participation and alcohol and illicit drug use in adolescents and young adults: A systematic review of longitudinal studies. Addictive behaviors, 39(3), 497-506.

Mason, M., Ola, B., Zaharakis, N., & Zhang, J. (2015). Text messaging interventions for adolescent and young adult substance use: a meta-analysis. Prevention Science, 16(2), 181-188.

Ross, L. J., Wilson, M., Banks, M., Rezannah, F., & Daglish, M. (2012). Prevalence of malnutrition and nutritional risk factors in patients undergoing alcohol and drug treatment. Nutrition, 28(7-8), 738-743.

Roxburgh, A., Ritter, A., Slade, T., & Burns, L. (2013). Trends in drug use and related harms in Australia, 2001 to 2013. Sydney: National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales.

Smith, M. B., Nelson, H. D., Haney, E., Pappas, M., Daeges, M., Wasson, N., & McDonagh, M. (2014). Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria.

Snijder, M., Stapinski, L., Lees, B., Newton, N., Champion, K., Chapman, C., … Teesson, M. (2018). Substance Use Prevention Programs for Indigenous Adolescents in the United States of America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand: Protocol for a Systematic Review. JMIR Research Protocols, 7(2), e38.

Sobell, L. C., Sobell, M. B., & Ward, E. (Eds.). (2013). Evaluating alcohol and drug abuse treatment effectiveness: Recent advances. Elsevier.

Tanner-Smith, E. E., & Lipsey, M. W. (2015). Brief alcohol interventions for adolescents and young adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of substance abuse treatment, 51, 1-18.

Van Boekel, L. C., Brouwers, E. P., Van Weeghel, J., & Garretsen, H. F. (2013). Stigma among health professionals towards patients with substance use disorders and its consequences for healthcare delivery: systematic review. Drug and alcohol dependence, 131(1-2), 23-35.

Victoria State government. (2012).Drugs and teenagers. Access date: 13.9.2018. .Retrieved from:

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