Jan 29, 2019 in Research

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Scientific matrix method helps to visualize a process of research in a social setting. It assists the research in presenting a social problem in a scientific way and hence including all necessary elements required to carry an exhaustive social research. The aim of this paper is to present a scientific method matrix on the topic of drug and substance abuse among the youth. The matrix presents the problem of research, problem statement, literature review of research findings on the topic, and hypothesis among other elements.

Keywords: drug abuse, youth, peer influence, peer cluster, rural


Research is a primary component of sociology. To ensure validity and relevance of any research, a researcher has to be committed to being scientific in terms of the methodology. This has to be done with good organization and in a systematic manner if the researcher is to remain consistent and objective. The following matrix has been completed based on drug and substance abuse as a social problem. The matrix is aimed at guiding the creation of a preliminary plan to help in implementing the method’s initial plans.

Method Matrix

Social Problem

Drug and substance abuse is one of the major problems facing countries around the world. Governments and organizations spend much time and money trying to put in place systems and measures to cap spiraling rates of drug abuse among the youth. Some countries have provided for a program in their school curriculum to ensure that children are educated in their early years of development on dangers of drug and substance abuse. The aim is to save them from plunging into drug and substance abuse when they grow up. Despite the programs being there, the problem of drug and substance abuse has increased in the society as more youth become addicted to drugs. The debate is now focused on factors that contribute to this situation, with some arguing that peer pressure and influence play a big role in the problem. Parental upbringing and exposure to sources of drugs have also been cited as possible causes of drug and substance abuse. Still, some argue that exposure to media and social networks could contribute to escalating rates of drug abuse. Cultural and social practices are also among the causes of the problem.

Problem Definition

Is drug abuse related to overexposure to social media that glorify deviant behaviors among the youth?

Operational Definition

  • For purposes of this study, youth is defined as any person, male or female, between the age of 18 and 35.
  • For purposes of this study, drug is defined as any illegal substance under any jurisdiction, which when ingested causes undesirable physiological changes in the body of a person ingesting it.
  • For purposes of this study, drug abuse is defined as continuous ingestion of an illegal drug by a person without the prescription of a physician.
  • For purposes of this study, society is defined as a group of people with similar values and culture who consider their values and cultures to be universally acceptable.

Risk and Protective Factors for Drug Use among Rural American Youth

In the research article, “Risk and Protective Factors for Drug Use among Rural American Youth”, Oetting, Edwards, Kelly, & Beauvais (1997) examine factors that contribute to the usage of drugs by the rural youth in America. In the introduction, the researchers note that there are differences in the way rural and urban youth abuse drugs in America even though cases are rampant across the country. The differences are evident in social contexts, consequences, and the extent to which various drugs are abused in America. According to the researchers, there are common grounds between urban and rural youth in terms of their perception of social risk factors and personal intentions for abusing drugs. Specifically, the research seeks to demonstrate the relationship between social risk factors, personal perceptions, and drug abuse among rural youth. The research is premised on self-reporting data from 7th and 8th grade students in one group as well as the youth of grades 11 and 12 who had been put in another group. The study was conducted in 9 states in communities that had an upper limit of 20,000 people. The researchers used a questionnaire with short scales to measure the range of characteristics usually associated with drug abuse. The questionnaire was developed by the American Drug and Alcohol Survey and Prevention Planning Survey.

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A number of theories were employed during the analysis of the data. The peer cluster theory was used in explaining the link between the usage of drugs and the way the youth were involved in drug issues as peers. According to this theory, “adolescent drug use is almost entirely a group activity taking place in the social context of peer clusters” (Oetting et al., 1997). The researchers note that peer clusters for youth consisted of friends, a small group of friends with the same interests, attitude, and norms. The youth whose probability of abusing drugs is high tend to identify themselves with certain peer clusters according to some characteristics. These common characteristics may be poor performance in school, dislike for learning, or generally a high potential to engage in rebellious and deviant behaviors. In line with this theory, the researchers argue that peer influence is a major factor that determines drug abuse among the youth. Nonetheless, they note that peer cluster theory differs from peer influence as it inculcates small identifiable groups of the youth, which determine how, where, and when to abuse drugs.

According to the findings of the study, drug abuse among the youth is more highly concentrated in rural areas than in urban areas. Personal and social characteristics put into question rural aspects, including peer groups, peer influence, access to drugs, and general knowledge about drugs, which contribute to high rates of drug abuse. Adolescent drug abuse in rural areas is mainly a social behavior rather than being a response to effects of drugs on the abuser. The youth are not inherently addicted to abuse of drugs and the majority of the drugs that they abuse do not cause severe physiological dependence (Oetting et al., 1997). The researchers have found out that drug abuse and abuse of substances as it is done by the youth are not dependent on one identifiable factor. They argue that different factors work together to exacerbate the situation. The youth who abuse drugs are likely to engage in anti-social behaviors, criminal acts, or resort to violence when dealing with members of the society. Studies reviewed by the researchers indicate that drug abuse is generally a continuation of the delinquency on the part of the youth. However, the continued use also encourages more violence and delinquency from studies of criminal acts by the youth. Interestingly, the researchers note in their discussion that most youth who abuse drugs in rural areas are not generally deviant. As a result, drug abuse among the youth is thought to be a manifestation of a larger social problem. To some youth, drug abuse is a part of the evolving social scene that only comes to redefine the behaviors of the youth in later stages of abuse.

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The researchers established a strong relationship between adolescent tendency to abuse drugs and family characteristics. Other factors identified in the study include selection of friends in school, a school that the youth attend, and pressure or stressful agents that the youth are exposed to in their engagements (Oetting et al., 1997). These factors discourage or encourage the youth to abuse drugs, depending on their characteristics. For instance, the researchers note that not all peer groups are bad. They observe that some peer groups can discourage the youth who may be using drugs to abandon the habit. The same applies to schools that the youth attend and the family advice that they get from parents or older siblings in the family. Accumulation of risk factors is an indication of a linear relationship in drug abuse among the youth. Chances of abusing drugs are greater in a situation when risk factors are greater.

Speculative Hypothesis

In this study, it is hypothesized that peer clustering and peer influence have a direct link with drug and substance abuse among the youth in the rural setting. The tendency to abuse drugs by the youth is a net result of peer influence that forces the youth to engage with groups that abuse drugs. Rural setting is the independent variable, which provides the setting for group formulations and easier access to drugs. Changing the setting may not have a big impact on the potential of the youth to abuse drugs if the peer group is not changed. Thus, peer influence remains the same.

The majority of the youth who abuse drugs are influenced by the social context and characteristics of the group with which they keep company. Being located in a rural setting where drugs can be accessed easily coupled with peer pressure directly encourages the youth to abuse drugs and substances. Correlation of drug and substance abuse among the youth with the setting in which they live is more evident in a rural setting than in an urban setting.

Independent Variable

The independent variable is the rural setting. In a rural setting, the youth tend to know each other personally as they live in the same neighborhood and attend the same schools. As such, if one of them is abusing a certain drug, he/she is likely to influence others in the group since they share common characteristics. The research has shown that the youth in a rural setting abuse drugs more than those in an urban setting. The reason for this phenomenon is easier access to drugs, less strict law enforcement, and general familiarity of the youth with those who abuse drugs.

Dependent Variable

Dependent variable consists in peer influence and peer clustering. The youth who are not participating in bad peer clusters are likely not to engage in drug and substance abuse. Some peer groups are likely to discourage one of their members from abusing drugs in a rural setting if the group espouses good social behaviors.


If the youth live in a rural setting and identify themselves with bad peer groups, they are likely to be influenced by their peers to abuse drugs.

In this study, the researcher will use a self-reported questionnaire applied to a selected sample of the youth in the rural setting. The questionnaire will be administered through survey interview on one select group and survey monkey on the other group. The reason for this design is that the researcher will be able to collect firsthand data from the interview. He will also be able to collect more data from a larger respondent base using the survey monkey tool. This method is the best for this research as the majority of the youth might not be willing to divulge much information to the researcher, fearing victimization or even rebuke from the society. Using online survey will assist in reaching more respondents, as well as providing an environment of confidentiality where respondents are free to give data without risking exposure of their identity.


In this study, it is envisaged that drug and substance abuse among rural youth is a result of many factors working together to bring about the situation. These include exposure to negative social media and peer influence, which enhances the possibility that the youth will engage in drug abuse. Social and cultural contexts in which the youth live also affect the potential of engaging in the abuse of drugs. Easier access to drugs is another factor that influences the abuse of drugs and substances among the youth. However, the overall onus remains with the youth as they decide personally to abuse drugs. The identified factors only serve to enhance the potential by providing conducive environment for the youth to abuse drugs. The youth who abuse drugs and substances in the rural setting are influenced by prevailing factors, including the social setting, which enhances the tendency of being exposed to drugs in their environment.

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