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Running head: METRO ATLANTA 1
SOWK 6361 Week 4 Assignment
Racquel Walsh
Walden University
Part I: Understanding Your Community
The community that I selected for this assignment is the Metro Atlanta community of
Georgia. Atlanta is the capital of Georgia. As of 2020, Atlanta has a population of 478,200
(altantaregional.org). In the past 20 years, Atlanta has experienced significant political,
economic, and social changes. Atlanta’s community population has shown an inclining trajectory
since 2000 since the Atlanta economy’s surge from the Great Recession. Atlanta’s population of
478,200 had 63,600 population increase since 2019 (atlantaregional.org).
The change in Atlanta’s population within the past 20 years has primarily been
influenced by its economy. Current estimates predict that the population size will add 2.9 million
people by 2050 (atlantaregional.org). A social change in the Metro Atlanta community that
should be noted is the racial makeup. In 2000 the racial makeup of Metro Atlanta was 61.55%
Black, 38.4% White, 33.9% White non-Hispanic, 95.52% Asian and Pacific Islander, and 10.2%
Hispanic/Latino. In 2020 the racial makeup of Metro Atlanta changed to 57.4% Black, 33.2%
White, 31.3% White non-Hispanic, 3.9% Asian and Pacific Islander, and 4.48% Hispanic/Latino
(United States Census Bureau 2020). Metro Atlanta’s current population consists of a median
age of 33, 21.6 poverty rate, $65,345 median household income, 256,891 employed residents,
and 68.9% democrats and 27.3 republicans.
The statistics regarding Metro Atlanta’s population over the past 20 years indicates that
the racial composition for Blacks in the Metro Atlanta community decreased by 0.442%. The
decrease in the population can be explained by using the Conflict Theory. The Conflict Theory,
explains that society is in a state of constant conflict because of the lack of limited resources
(Rusu 2020). Economic-wise, Metro Atlanta has experience great growth since 2000.
Part II: Community Assessment
Substance abuse is a problem currently being faced by the Metro Atlanta Community. In
Atlanta, the drugs that are most commonly abused are marijuana, cocaine, alcohol,
methamphetamine, heroin, prescription drugs, and MDMA (Dew and Tatum 2013). The
substance abuse problem in Atlanta is most apparent amongst the teenage, young adult, and
middle-aged adult populations. Substance abuse in Atlanta has existed since the 1980s, with
poverty being the primary influencing factor on substance abuse in Metro Atlanta. Residents of
Metro Atlanta turn to various substances to manage and cope with stress, the high the users feel
from the substance used is only a temporary relief from difficult and trying situations and
experiences. The growing substance abuse problem in Metro Atlanta is an issue that affects its
residents both indirectly and directly. Substance abuse is a recurring problem that has been
affecting Metro Atlanta for the past decade and still affects Metro Atlanta currently.
Factors that have influenced Metro Atlanta’s substance abuse issue are poverty, lack of
jobs, stress, and homelessness (Dew and Tatum 2013). Daily stressors within the community
may influence individuals to engage with substance use to relieve stress that he/she may be
experiencing. A recent report indicates stress as being a primary contributor to the use of drugs
and alcohol in Georgia. Poverty has also been noted as another other primary reason why
individuals in Metro Atlanta engage in substance use. The lack of strict substance abuse
precautions from the local and federal governments has also influenced the substance abuse
problem in Metro Atlanta. Heroin use in Metro in Atlanta is rapidly increasing. According to
Dew and Golubovic 2015, “substance abuse treatment admission for heroin in Atlanta increased
23% from 2013-2014 and now account for 7.5% of primary admissions”. In the Fulton County
area of Metro Atlanta, heroin onboard has increased 148% (31 to 77) from 2013-2014 (Dew and
Golubovic 2015). Multiple indicators suggest that methamphetamine use in Metro Atlanta has
reached its highest level since its peak in 2005.
There are several factors in the Metro Atlanta community that makes it vulnerable to
substance abuse. Poverty in Metro Atlanta makes it susceptible to substance use/abuse.
Individuals experiencing living in poverty have limited resources, lack of employment
opportunities, lack of education, lack of resources, and experiencing various daily stressors are
more likely to engage in substance use than those who are not. “The high unemployment rate
among Blacks can influence them to enter illicit drug use” (Rigg, 2017). The lack of strict
drug/substance laws/punishment is another factor that makes Metro Atlanta more vulnerable to
substance use/abuse. Local law enforcement enforcing more stick laws and punishment for those
manifesting and distributing illicit substances/drugs could help to take the drugs off the streets,
which in turn would decrease substance abuse in Metro Atlanta.
A strength of the Metro Atlanta community is collaboration. When it comes to addressing
social issues that are negatively affecting Metro Atlanta, many celebrities that have great
influence in Atlanta come together to raise awareness and offer a plan of action to make a change
in the community. The collaboration between the celebrities living in Metro Atlanta and its
citizen can bring awareness to what it is going on in the community, the changes that must be
made within the community, and what can be done for those changes to be made. These
collaboration can assist the community to overcome the substance abuse issue and give
Individuals the opportunity to respond to education and awareness programs in regards to
substance abuse and its risk and dangers (Das et al 2016). This collaboration could also show the
community bountiful support from influential public community figures, which can play a very
important role when it comes to preventing substance abuse/use and preventing relapse. A major
institution that assists the community in being able to address the substance use problem is
schools, Emory Hospital, and the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental
Disabilities. There are other various local community organizations, agencies, and programs that
also work to address the community’s substance abuse issue in Metro Atlanta. The schools in
Metro Atlanta provide awareness and substance abuse education, in which students are taught the
dangers and risks that comes with substance use/abuse. Emory Hospital provides treatment for
substance abusers. Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities
and community organizations, agencies, and programs provide support and resources to
individuals engaging in substance use such as substance/drug treatment, therapy/counseling, and
rehabilitation services.
Individuals living in poverty, teenagers in high school, and young adults in college are
among the most affected. The lack of jobs, lack of resources, and lack of healthcare amongst
those living in poverty, daily teenage peer pressure, and the daily stressor faced by adults in
college are all influencing factors leading to substance abuse/use within those groups.
Part III: Community and Policy Action Plan
The proposed plan of action for community change for Metro Atlanta includes lowering
substance abuse/use rate. Raising awareness and providing substance abuse education is a
effective strategy that can used to achieve this goal. The awareness and substance abuse
education programs will bring awareness and educate the community about the various dangers
of substance abuse and convince them to refrain from this lifestyle. Active substance users and
potential substance users are more likely to stop and refrain from substance when they have
knowledge of the dangers and risks that comes with substance use and how it can affect the
community (Das et al. 2016). It is this very reason why raising awareness and providing
substance abuse education about the substance’s negative effects is an important and effective
strategy to use.
Gathering data pertaining to the groups that are most affected by substance abuse then
than handling them accordingly is a great way to use this approach. Including members of the
Atlanta, community would make this easier because they can assist by providing needed
guidance and support to make the substance users more willing and comfortable during the
interactions (Rigg 2017). A policy that would provide support to the community’s change efforts
would include the illicit drug possession policy. Illicit drug possession in Georgia is illegal under
the illict drug possession policy. A policy that requires institutions such as schools, community
centers, and human services agencies to provide substance abuse education could help with
ensuring the proposed change sustainability.
Atlanta, Georgia. (2013, November 04). Retrieved March 27, 2021, from
Das, J. K., Salam, R. A., Arshad, A., Finkelstein, Y., & Bhu1a, Z. A. (2016). Interven=ons for
adolescent substance abuse: An overview of systema=c reviews. Journal of Adolescent
Health, 59(4), S61-S75.
Dew, B.J, Tatum, A.K, (2013) Pa1erns and Trends of Drug Use in Atlanta, Georgia: June 2013
Metro Atlanta population to grow by 2.9 million and Reach 8.6 million by 2050, Atlanta
Regional Commission forecasts show. (2019, December 04). Retrieved March 26, 2021,
from https://atlantaregional.org/news/press-releases/metro-atlanta-population-to-grow-by-
National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) Atlanta Metro Sentinel Community Site Drug
Use Patterns and Trends, 2015. (n.d.).
Rigg, K. K. (2017). Mo=va=ons for using MDMA (ecstasy/molly) among African Americans:
Implica=ons for preven=on and harm-reduc=on programs. Journal of psychoacve
drugs, 49(3), 192-200.
Rusu, M. S. (2020). Street Names through Sociological Lenses. Part I: Func=onalism and ConBict
Theory. Social Change Review, 1(ahead-of-print).
References cont.
United States Census Bureau (2020). QuickFacts: Atlanta, Georgia
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