Research Paper: Drug Addiction

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Social Problem of Drug Addiction

Drug Addiction

The Social Problem of Drug Addiction and the Role of the Community

The Social Problem of Drug Addiction and the Role of Community

Drug addiction is a multifaceted human issue that breeds biological, economic, and social consequences. The social impact of drug abuse and addiction affects the family, the community, and resonates with the overall society at large. In the simplest terms, a drug is a substance that alters the function of the body (Wilson & Kolander, 2011). In some form, drugs are used in every society on a daily basis, and includes caffeine, herbs, tobacco, and over the counter medications. For the purposes of this paper, the focus will be on drug addiction, which generally occurs with drugs that compromise the function of the nervous system. Addiction is marked by physical dependence, and refers to the uncontrolled impulse to use a drug in spite of physical, emotional, and social consequences that are associated with its use (Wilson & Kolander, 2011). Although the abuse of drugs dates back millennia, advances in communication, technology, drug manufacturing and distribution has made drug addiction a significant social problem in the present age (UNDCP, 1995). The cost of drug addiction impacts economic, health care, law enforcement, and community resources. Accepting that drug addiction as a social problem insinuates that drug addiction is everyone's problem. The threat of law enforcement and legal consequences has proven to be insufficient solutions to the drug addiction issue.

Addressing a social problem requires social resources. In regards to drug addiction, social entities such as the family, faith organizations, and the community are needed to provide addicts with the adequate amount of support needed to overcome their addiction. The family and members of the community have the potential to directly impact the life of an addict, for better or for worse. The family may be the origin of drug addiction, or the family may be a source of treatment (UNDCP, 1995). Only families that have the ability to offer healthy environments for the addict have the potential to be part of the solution. Leaders in faith organizations must be trained to understand the signs of alcohol and drug dependence, be able to communicate and educate about their consequences, and provide theological context for addiction to those who seek it. The community plays a pivotal role in the solution for drug addiction, as the community must provide the necessary resources for individuals to succeed in their sobriety. Finding a solution to drug addiction requires the social influences of the family and community to nurture positive, healthy environments for addicts to receive support and treatment.

Defining Drug Addiction as a Social Problem

Drug use is relevant to every country and culture around the world. Whether the drug is caffeine, an opiate, or otherwise, some form of drug is being used within every societal structure. Drugs have been employed by civilizations for millennia and have been exploited for both medicinal and recreational incentives. Defining drug, drug abuse, and drug addiction are necessary to establish a context for discussion. The consequences of drug addiction will then be focused into a social view and will address addiction and its role as a social problem.

The Definition of Drug

Using the most general definition, a drug is a substance that alters the function of the body (Wilson & Kolander, 2011). The term "drug" is used to classify a range of substances. Drugs can be used for medicinal purposes, recreational purposes, and be found in substances that are consumed daily and are considered harmless. Caffeinated beverages and herbs, for example, are drugs and influence bodily processes, but are ingested by billions of people every day. Caffeine is considered a legal drug, as are tobacco products, alcohol, and prescription medications. Glues and cleaning agents are legal for purchase, but contain harsh chemicals and can be abused for their ability to alter physiological processes. The drugs that are the subject of this paper are the substances which are most commonly abused, and include substances that affect the function of the nervous system and are considered to be "mind altering," (Wilson & Kolander, 2011, p. 6). These substances include alcohol, marijuana, barbiturates, narcotics, inhalants, and hallucinogens.

Defining Drug Abuse and Addiction

Although drug abuse and drug addiction are not the same, they tend to occur together. Drug abuse typically refers to the chronic, excessive use of a drug to a point when personal harm is highly likely to take place (Wilson & Kolander, 2011). In theory, all drugs have the potential to be abused and misused. Examples of drug misuse is drinking alcohol to the point of drunkenness and exceeding the recommended dose of prescription medication. Drug addiction is the uncontrolled urge to use a drug regardless of any physical, emotional, or social consequences associated with its use (Wilson & Kolander, 2011). Addiction is distinguished by physical dependence, which occurs once an individual has sustained tolerance to a drug and avoids the withdrawal symptoms that emerge upon becoming sober (Wilson & Kolander, 2011). Drug addiction is a human issue that does not discriminate between gender, race, sexual orientation, creed, or otherwise.

Drug Addiction is a Social Problem

Government slogans such as "War on Drugs" are enough to make one believe that drugs have been abused and misused only in recent decades. In reality, drug use and abuse have been a part of all human societies from both the past and present (Hanson, Venturelli & Fleckenstein, 2012). For example, the Grecian oracles of Delphi used drugs while communicating their prophecies. The use of mandrake root, a hallucinogen, is mentioned in the Book of Genesis in the Bible as an item used to barter for lovemaking (Hanson et al., 2012). Attempts to lower the incidence of drug abuse dates as far back as 2240 B.C. In the Code of Hammurabi, an ancient Babylonian law code which speaks negatively of men who were drinking excessive amounts of alcohol (Hanson et al., 2012).

Drug abuse and addiction are not novel concepts in human history; however, drug abuse is currently more severe and widespread than ever before in recorded history (Hanson et al., 2012). Advances in communication, manufacturing, drug design, and shipping have all contributed to the growth of the human population, growth in business, and ultimately growth in drug distribution and consumption (UNDCP, 1995). Global changes in economics and politics have been conducive to the enhanced exchange of goods and money from one country to another, and in some cases have made trade easier and cheaper. Illicit drugs and their users can be found in nearly every country and every city. In 2009, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported 49.2% of youth ages 12 to 17 reported it would be "very easy" for them to obtain marijuana, and 22.1% reported it would be very easy to obtain cocaine, and 13% said it would be fairly easy to obtain LSD and heroin (Hanson et al., 2012, p. 15). The availability of illicit drugs to youth speaks to the potential for drug abuse and addiction to occur at a younger age than ever before.

The widespread availability and use of drugs has made drug addiction one of the most significant social problems in the 20th and 21st centuries. The cost of drug addiction impacts economies, health care, law enforcement and community resources (UNDCP, 1995). If one is willing to classifying drug addiction as a social problem, then drug addiction is everyone's problem. The solution to eradicate the social problem of drug addiction will require the work of social entities such as the family, the faith organizations, and the community. The threat of law enforcement and legal action has proven to be an insufficient solution to the addiction problem. Addicts need the social support provided by their supporters and members of the community to overcome the addiction.

Finding Solutions for Drug Addiction within the Community

A social problem requires a social solution. Drug addiction is a social problem that has penetrated into all age groups, genders, races, creeds, and social groups. Finding a solution to the social problem of drug addiction requires the efforts of such social institutions as the family, the church, and the community. These social bodies have the potential to directly impact, influence, and guide an addict to sobriety in a healthy manner. The continued work of people in the community to positively influence and provide healthy resources to addicts are critical to solving the social problem of drug addiction.

The Role of the Family

The family represents a complex social structure that has the potential to nurture the behaviors of its individuals. The family unit is understood to be a social body that instills values, beliefs, healthy practices, and acceptable social behaviors into its members (Agha, Zia & Irfan, 2008). The family is also viewed as a basic source of strength and support, which cultivates stability and continuity for the community (UNDCP, 1995). As much as the family can be a source… [END OF PREVIEW]

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