Term Paper: Drug Abuse of Both Legal

Pages: 8 (2552 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Sports - Drugs  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] There have been a number of initiatives to counteract the negative effect of drugs on society. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), was created in 1973 in order to enforce laws and policies concerning drug abuse. The DEA is also responsible for coordinating information sharing between federal, local, and state agencies (The Columbia Encyclopedia, 2001).

There have also been a number of financial initiatives to fight drug abuse in the United States. In 1999, the United States' federal government budgeted $17.9 billion for drug control. This money was slated to a variety of uses, including prevention, treatment, international law enforcement, prison and prosecution. Over ten years earlier, The Anti-Drug Abuse Acts of 1986 and 1988 provided increased funding for rehabilitation and treatment for drug users (The Columbia Encyclopedia, 2001).

Treatment programs are used to help drug abusers overcome their addiction to drugs. These programs offer hope for decreasing the cost of drug use to society by helping individual users stop using drugs. Close to one=third of drug users in treatment are referred to treatment by the criminal justice system, and may be there against their will. Others enter treatment voluntarily. Treatment can be both behavioral and pharmacological, and take the form of residential facilities or nonresidential programs. Famous examples are Alcoholics Anonymous, and groups like Al-Anon for family and friends of drug abusers (The Columbia Encyclopedia, 2001).

Treatment may be one of the most promising methods of controlling drug abuse and the impact of abuse on society in the United States today. Notes The National Institute on Drug Abuse, "Treatment can have a profound effect not only on drug abusers, but on society as a whole by significantly improving social and psychological functioning, decreasing related criminality and violence, and reducing the spread of AIDS. It can also dramatically reduce the costs to society of drug abuse."

While many treatment programs are effective, there remains a great deal to be done in terms of treatment for drug use, especially in terms of accessibility. The Columbia Encyclopedia (2001) notes, "For every person in drug treatment there are an estimated three or four people who need it." Long wait times for public drug treatment facilities (which can be over a month) are often discouraging for drug users. Further, the effectiveness of many treatment programs is difficult to measure, given the chronic nature of both drug abuse and alcohol abuse. Further, alcohol abuse and drug abuse are often accompanied by a number of health, social and personal factors (The Columbia Encyclopedia, 2001).

Recently, there has been discussion of controlling drug use in order to minimize the negative effects of drugs. Supporters of legalization and decriminalization suggest that drug trafficking and associated violence will be reduced. Further, lowering prices for drugs is argued to potentially reduce the criminal activity that takes place in order to raise money for their purchase. A large number of Americans oppose legalization of drugs, feeling that legalization would only encourage drug use (The Columbia Encyclopedia, 2001). Decriminalization, especially of marijuana, has been considered as a potential way to reduce drug-associated costs, including the costs of incarceration and legal system costs for those charged with possessing marijuana.

Prevention is also an important part of stopping drug use, and can involve government, the community, schools, and the family, as well as larger society in the form of media involvement. Notes The National Institute on Drug Abuse, "comprehensive prevention programs that involve the family, schools, communities, and the media are effective in reducing drug abuse."

Importantly, any attempts to curtail drug abuse in the United States must take into consideration attitudes and beliefs about drug use. Most Americans see drug abusers as "morally weak or as having criminal tendencies" (The National Institute on Drug Abuse). Further, many Americans feel that drug abusers lack the moral fiber or desire to change their behaviors. The National Institute on Drug Abuse argues instead that drug addiction is "a chronic, relapsing, and treatable disease" that should be approached in a scientific manner. Notes The National Institute on Drug Abuse, "Overcoming misconceptions and replacing ideology with scientific knowledge is the best hope for bridging the 'great disconnect' - the gap between the public perception of drug abuse and addiction and the scientific facts." It is only when American society as a whole understands the problem of drug addiction that the United States can hope to create a viable, lasting approach to the problem of drug abuse in America.

In conclusion, drug abuse in America has a profound impact on the social fabric of the nation. Drug abuse not only has a tremendous financial cost, but a strong societal cost as well. Drug abuse impacts the nation in the workplace, on the streets (in terms of crime, and traffic deaths and injuries), and at home. Drug users suffer from homelessness, health-related consequences of drug use, and alienation from and dysfunctional relationships with their families, and have a real risk of dying of their habit. The children of pregnant drug users may contract a number of ills from their mother, including fetal alcohol syndrome, AIDS, and addiction itself. These consequences point to the real need for society to help stem the tide of drug abuse in America. Today, societal approaches to drug abuse include treatment and prevention, as well as discussion of legalization and decriminalization. Importantly, a public understanding of the real roots and causes of the drug abuse problem in the United States is necessary to help combat the issues of drug abuse in America. Notes the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Americans must work to resolve misconceptions about drug abuse in order to effectively tackle the problem of drug abuse in America today.

Works Cited

Anderson, Kirby. Teen Drug Abuse. Probe Ministries. 14 June 2004. http://www.probe.org/docs/teendrug.html

About.com. What Are the Costs of Drug Abuse to Society? From National Institute on Drug Abuse. 14 June 2004. http://alcoholism.about.com/cs/drugs/f/drug_faq10.htm

Alcoholics Victorious. The Impact of Alcohol Abuse on American Society. 15 June 2004. http://www.av.iugm.org/faq/impact.html eMedicine.com. Drug Dependence & Abuse. Drug Dependence & Abuse. 15 June 2004. http://www.emedicinehealth.com/articles/18907-1.asp

National Institute on Drug Abuse. Costs to Society. 14 June 2004. http://www.nida.nih.gov/Infofax/costs.html

The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition (2001). Drug addiction and drug abuse. 15 June 2004. http://www.bartleby.com/65/dr/drugaddi.html

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction. Last updated on… [END OF PREVIEW]

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