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Running Head: Adolescent Paper

A Multidimensional Perspective
Shena Poma

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The purpose of this paper is to explore the multidimensional framework during the
adolescent years. Adolescence is referred to as the time period in an individuals lifetime ranging
from eleven years old to twenty five years old. This paper will demonstrate how each dimension
affects the shaping of an individual, and the strengths and hazards that lie under each dimension.
I will share my own personal experiences during the adolescent years, and how the strengths and
hazards have affected my own life. The paper will start with diving into the biophysical
dimension, it will then flow into the psychological dimension, and finish with the social
dimension. When searching for an explanation for human behavior, a multidimensional approach
must be used, and each of the three dimensions must be explored.
The biophysical dimension is limited to the bodys biochemistry that is constantly
changing, especially during the adolescent years. The main biochemical change that occurs
during this time period is puberty. Puberty generally comes with a lot of difficult alterations to
the body and mind. I struggled with many of the changes that occurred in my body, including the
weight change, headaches, menstruation, and sleeping. The most challenging issue to overcome
was the weight issue. The obsession over my weight started around eleven years old, and was
created by the influence of each dimension. I was not satisfied with how I was gaining weight
during the start of menstruation, and fought the weight gain, as much as I possibly could. The
obsession took a downward spiral the following year. I started to take drastic measures to reverse
the affects biology had taken on my body, starting with allowing myself to only eat so much a
day to lose weight. I found this method to be insufficient due to my love for food, and the fact
that eating comfort food had always been my way of coping with stress. It soon developed into a

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full blown eating disorder. Since I did love food so much, I decided that bulimia made much
more sense. The binging and purging routine lasted for a few years before it got to the point of
my family begging me to seek professional help. The image I had inside my head of my weight,
or what I saw when I looked into the mirror, was inaccurate according to others. Other areas of
concern during the adolescent years regarding the biophysical dimension include headaches and
my sleeping patterns. My hormone levels were all over the place, and one of the major side
effects, other than moodiness, was migraines. As I developed even further along the adolescent
timeline, I found my sleeping patterns to become more and more troubling. The first documented
time I complained about my sleeping patterns to a doctor was at the age of eleven years old. The
complaints became more frequent as I got older, and I found staying awake even more difficult.
Even when I was awake I had a hard time functioning like everyone else because I was so tired. I
have tried countless other methods to help with my sleeping patterns, but it seemed like nothing I
did helped at all. Finally, ten years after the first complaint to my doctor, I was diagnosed with
narcolepsy after several tests. However, the medication I was prescribed was something that
could interact with another of my diagnoses. I continue to struggle with my sleeping patterns and
staying awake, and it seems like this sleeping disorder becomes even more severe with each year
that passes. The biophysical dimension of human behavior also includes the medical disorders
accompanied by biology and genetics. Mental health has been an area that has affected each and
every single possible second of my entire life, especially during the adolescent years. Other than
bulimia, narcolepsy, and addiction, I have been diagnosed with clinical depression and
generalized anxiety disorder. I was prescribed medication for both depression and anxiety, but
they opened a door I would never be able to close. Each of these disorders dictated my life, and
every decision I have ever made. I am still currently searching for something to assist the

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subsiding of any of them, but have been unsuccessful thus far. A great way to describe the way I
was feeling during these troubling years was Stanley Halls Storm and Stress. Hall described
how all of these adolescent emotions contradict one another. One minute the adolescent may be
happy and laughing, and then they suddenly switch to being angry and yelling. I can definitely
relate when they talked about each contradictions, but one in particular jumped out to me: energy
and lethargy.(King, 2004) Personally I felt that these two traits were always battling inside of me,
and unfortunately lethargy won more and more as I got older.
Psychological Dimension
The psychological dimension includes areas such as self-esteem, egocentrism, moral
development, mental health, and delinquency. One area that seems to affect all of the other areas
is self-esteem. Self-esteem is described as being an evaluation of oneself. (Ashford & LeCroy,
2010) The way you view yourself influences every facet of an individuals life such as decision
making, thought processes, and perception. Personally, my self-esteem levels have been low for
as long as I can remember, dating back to even before adolescence, and continues today. The
extreme levels of my own self esteem have lead me down some dark paths including self-harm,
addiction, abuse, and suicidal tendencies. I mentioned earlier about my struggle with depression
and anxiety, which eventually lead me to suicidal tendencies and failed attempts. I cant say for
sure that I wanted to die or not, but I can confidently say that I felt like life was not worth living.
I didnt know any other way of coping with lifes challenges other than ending it all with ending
my life. As bad as I wanted to die at times, I found myself surviving the attempts time after time.
Death seemed so much easier than life, yet I could not end my own. It was apparent that I had
several mental health issues at an early age, and I received counseling and other professional
attention for majority of my adolescent years. Therapy helped, but I have still never been able to

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shake the negative thoughts I currently still possess to this day. Egocentrism is often portrayed as
something that narcissistic acquire, however, individuals with low self-esteem acquire this
quality as well. Egocentrism is the over thinking of yourself, it can be divided into those with
overly high self-concept, and those with overly low self-esteem, such as being self-conscious. I
always felt that people were staring at me because there was something wrong with the way I
looked, or something I said, or thinking negative thoughts about me, and talking behind my back.
I excessively dissected everything people said or acted towards me, and I somehow was able to
construe everything to be negative, whether they were intended to be or not. Although, I was
fairly good at hiding my true feelings, I worked hard to portray myself as fun and spontaneous.
As a matter of fact, for the mock election during middle school I won both most spontaneous
and most unique. But pretending to be something you are not is draining, and takes a lot of
effort, and it all eventually caught up with me. Allison Daviss theory Adolescence and
Socialized Anxiety speaks to my own personal issues with anxiety, especially social anxiety.
Davis discusses how social anxiety motivates behaviors an individual may partake in to subside
the anxiety, and accomplish the social goals. For example, I craved peer acceptance, and many of
my behaviors stemmed from social anxiety that went along with being accepted by peers. Allison
Davis stated that "Adolescents with a strongly developed social anxiety, therefore, usually strive
for the approved social goals most eagerly and learn most successfully. (Davis, 1944)
Social Dimension
The social dimension has had a particularly important impact on my own development,
and the backbone of almost all of my behaviors. It is overwhelming how much social aspects can
guide an individuals life, and mold them into who they will eventually become, even after
adolescence and beyond. There have been several social experiences that lead me to become who

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I am today. The first experience that morphed many of my behaviors, and changed the course of
my life forever, would be substance abuse. I talked about all of the mental and physical disorders
I have tried to overcome throughout my life and into the adolescent years, but I have failed to
find solutions to many of them. I was in a dark place for a long time, and at the age of thirteen I
thought substances would be my way out. It did temporarily work, and I was briefly happy, but it
backfired eventually much more than I had ever expected. It all started with alcohol and
marijuana, which lead me to other substances shortly after, and before I knew it, I was no longer
in control. I was tricked into using heroin the first time, but that one time was enough for me to
become utterly obsessed with the drug. It didnt matter how disgusted I was in myself for using a
drug like heroin, my sick chemically dependent brain was able to justify using it again somehow.
The next few years were a living hell, but I couldnt imagine my life without drugs, and I
suppose I believed this is the life I deserved anyways. I went from the cheerleader in high school
with tons of friends, to the junkie in Detroit panhandling on the side of the road. I deeply
believed this was my destiny, and getting off heroin would never be an option. However, that all
changed the day of October 18 2010. I had been involved in fight with another drug addict that I

was using with, and that person decided to get back at me by calling my mom and telling her
EVERYTHING, including all my hiding spots. My family organized a small intervention, and I
agreed to go to rehab after trying to deny it one more time. I reluctantly agreed since I had
nothing to lose and I had been miserable for so long. The worst case scenario is me leaving early
and going to get high, which was the same situation I was in already anyhow.
Before I was addicted to any drugs, I started to experiment with other things, mainly
revolving around sexuality. There has been some sexual abuse in my past, which guided my trust
issues and the immense feeling of uncomfortability when other people touched me. Once I did

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open the door to sexuality, I found myself taking it to far, like everything I did. I developed a
reputation at school of being the party girl and easy, and I was proud of these titles. I felt
happy, I felt accepted, and I felt okay for the first time in a long time. The reasons why I
embraced such negative imaging others had about me is still a mystery to me. Looking back I am
confused on why I was empowered by such a foul reputation rather than ashamed, but it is
apparent I had some serious mental issues that peaked during the adolescent years. I suppose
attention is attention, and I obviously was craving that regardless of the form.
Other social institutions such as schools and peer influence within the schools had a
major impact on my feelings and behaviors. Generally I loved school, and took that opportunity
to socialize rather than focus on my education. Although, there was a time period that school was
a living hell for me because of the cyber bullying that going on after school hours. This was
when AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) was popular, and I, like ninety percent of my peers, had an
account to talk with friends online. However, I found a random person messaging me often, and
the messages become increasingly hurtful as time went on. This anonymous person(s) bullied me
by bringing up secrets about my life that not many people knew about. I was disgusted by the
lack of compassion this person had towards me and the situation I survived. They brought up the
abuse I went through as a child in full detail, the relationship I had with my father, and played on
my deepest insecurities. It was apparent to me that this person must have been someone that was
previously my friend; it was the only explanation to why this person knew so much about me. It
hurt the most to know that this person must have been one of my closest friends, and I became
suspicious of everyone. I constantly blocked this person, and they would make a new screen
name soon after to harass me even more. This went on for almost six months before it finally
ended, but they concluded with a threat. They sent me pictures of myself doing various things at

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school, one picture just being me bent over picking up my pencil. They told me that they would
post the pictures of me in a bathing suit everywhere in the school on my upcoming birthday.
Luckily that never happened, yet the pain from this experience continued long after the messages
An additional social aspect that molded me to be the person I am now included the
divorce of my parents. I will discuss my parents relationship in one of the theories regarding
deviance and substance abuse, but the divorce was something that changed my life forever. I can
scarcely remember events such as things being thrown, names being called, and minor physical
abuse when I think about my parents brief marriage. I know that the divorce is probably one of
the most positive things that could have happened during my life; otherwise I would still be
living in this chaos. My parents tried to make their family work for my sake, but if they do not
get along like my parents did not get along, it is much better for the child if the parents are
separated. None-the-less, the situation was difficult on me, and I blamed much of their break-up
on myself.
Lastly, another impactful social aspect of my adolescence includes my long term
boyfriend, Eric. Eric and I met at a party when I was only fifteen years old, and I felt like it was
love at first sight. Since that night in 2006 he became my partner in crime, best friend, and lover.
Many of my behaviors since then have been dictated by the relationship I have with Eric. Many
of the challenging experiences I had during these critical years were with Eric by my side. The
fact that he was so engraved into my life and all of my decisions, we became closer than the
normal boyfriend and girlfriend. Together we endured much more difficulties than other couples
our age due to both of our mental disorders, such as addiction. I felt like he understood me better
than anyone else. Eric is still the love of my life, and many of my behaviors are motivated by

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him in some shape or form. It has been eight long and hard years since the first day we met, but
we made a pact to be a team in this world, and we continue to help each other get through each
challenge that comes either of our way.

Theories of Adolescent Substance Abuse

Biophysical dimension
Genetic theories suggest that the biological makeup of an individual is to blame for the
predisposition of many disorders, such as addiction. I can confidently say that I believe these
theories to be completely true. The main reason, other than proven scientific evidence based
research, is that such a large portion of my biological family suffered a similar fate than I did,
and battled addiction in almost every form, including substance abuse. Some of the research has
included the biophysical dimension versus the social dimension, and one study stated that
studies have shown that adopted children have rates of alcoholism closer to those of their
natural parents than to those of their adoptive parents. (Schuckit,1984, p. 62) A second theory
developed by Vincent Dole and Marie Nyswander believed that heroin addicts have a Metabolic
Imbalance. Once the narcotic is ingested a biochemical process kicks in and the craving for the
opiate is so strong due to the metabolic imbalance. The theory also states that repeated doses of
a narcotic complete their metabolic cycle; narcotics act as a stabilizer, normalizing an existing
deciency. (Goode , 2007 pp. 62) I found this theory to be extremely fascinating, and it makes
sense to me based on my own personal experiences. I often explained to others than using heroin
made me feel normal, and I felt like I actually functioned better on heroin, of course until it
completely took over my life.
Psychological Dimension

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Reinforcement is a theory that falls under this dimension when discussing human
behaviors such as substance abuse. There are two types of reinforcement: positive and negative.
Positive reinforcement would be the pleasurable euphoria you feel after taking the drug. I found
myself chasing that euphoria for years, and the desperation I felt to experience that euphoria
came at all costs. The negative reinforcement would include the intense withdrawal an addict
feels after not ingesting heroin after so many hours. (Goode, 2007) Towards the end of my usage
I wound up needing to shoot up heroin at least three times a day to subdue the withdrawal
symptoms. Once the symptoms start, the progression is increasingly fast, and the desperation to
relieve the pain is unlike any other desperation. There are no limits when it comes to what you
would do to end the pain and all of your values and morals are thrown out the window. Alfred
Lindesmith was a theorist who discussed the burning desire to get the drug with the addict
needing to get high to just feel normal. Another theory involves self-esteem and the link between
low self-concept and substance abuse. This theory is often called self-derogation perspective, and
believes deviant behaviors generally are a response to substantially low self-esteem and
rejection. (Goode, 2007)
Social Dimension
There are many theories that fall under the social dimension regarding deviant behaviors
such as substance abuse. The first theory I will explore is the Social Control Theory constructed
by Travis Hirschi. The Social Control Theory portrays deviant behaviors as being a symptom of
the absence in social conformity. Other theories, such as the Social Disorganization Theory, dive
into parenting and societys faults regarding adolescent deviant behaviors. When the parents have
little control over their children, or the society is unwilling to acknowledge key issues,
adolescents may engage in deviant behaviors.( Goode, 2007) Personally, my family may have

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been unconventional, but my mother was the most supportive, loving, understanding parent any
child could ever imagine. I was truly blessed to have her be my mother. However, my father was
a different story. My parents did not like each other ever, the only reason I was born was because
my father demanded my mother have sex with him in exchange for giving her a place to stay
(she was a runaway teen). My grandparents expressed their concerns with my parents being
unmarried and told them they has to get married and try and make this family work. They
complied, but it only lasted a year or so before falling apart. My father was deeply obsessed with
my mother at this point, and threatened my mother with suicide each time she attempted to leave
him. My father has always used me as a pawn to get back at my mother, and I still to this day
think he has strong feelings towards my mother, even though he has his own family now. The
hurt he felt, he made sure I felt as well. My father and I had a rocky relationship, and that shaped
my behaviors, altered my perception, and affected me dramatically. One theory constructed by
Bruce Johnson and Denise Kandel called the Selective Interaction and Socialization, mentions
the attraction one may have to unconventionality, and the influence of peer groups on behaviors.
When I look back to the reasons I started using substances, I can honestly say I do not think peer
pressure was involved in my decision making. I know our culture puts a deep emphasis on peer
pressure to do bad things, and uses peer pressure to blame other people for their loved ones
poor decision making, but I think I just wanted to feel better. As a matter of fact, I hid my drug
use from many of my friends because doing drugs was not a cool thing to do at that age. I was
just searching for a way to make myself feel better about myself.
In summary, the adolescent years are constructed of each of the multidimensional
framework pieces. The three dimensions: biophysical, physiological, and social, all play an

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important role in the shaping of an individuals behaviors. I discussed the importance of the three
dimensions in my own personal adolescent years, and how each affected the development of the
person I am today. One major experience shaped almost all of the behaviors I have made, and
still make, which is substance abuse. The paper explored many theories regarding adolescence
and substance abuse. I examined the theories, and how they related to my own experiences with
addiction. Human behaviors are complex, and they require attention from each dimension to
truly understand the underlying motivators that exist for each of them. Some motivators that I
dug deeper into through this paper was comprised of eating disorders, family structure, puberty,
depression, anxiety, suicide, substance abuse, self-esteem, peer influence, harassment, moral
development, sleep disorders, relationships, and love.

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Ashford, J. LeCroy, C., (2010) Human Behavior in the Social Environment: A multidimensional Perspective, Cole:Brooks, CA:
Belmont, (ed.4, pp. 430-480)

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Goode, E. (2007) Theories of drug use. Retrieved from


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