Drug misuse is perceived to be the most serious public issue impacting almost all facets of the family or society. Every year the use of drugs leads to a variety of severe American accidents or illnesses. Cocaine, opium, marijuana and others are the most abusive narcotics. Drog abuse is the key explanation for the social problems in society and involves crime, abuse of children, substance use and stress. This contributes in many cases to violence, job absenteeism, homelessness, in addition to damaging unborn children and often destabilizing families. In the United States, drug abuse has cost a lot the government, it is approximated that drug abuse cost the government $484 billion every year, with alcohol abuse leading with $185 billion and the least being smoking with $138 billion (National Institute of Drug Abuse, 2000). This paper will provide more information about drug abuse as a social problem and how this vice can be dealt with in the society so as to reduce its impact on the people.
Sociological Perspective of Drug Abuse
According to the functionalist perspective drug abuse is as a result of weakening societal norms, in that as the society becomes more complex, values and the norms become ambiguous and unclear leading to normlessness. A situation of normlessness can occur at the personal level whenever one suffers from isolation, turmoil and estrangement over inappropriate behavior (Mooney, Knox, & Schacht, 2014). Also anomie can occur at the societal level leading to social strain such as rapid incoherent cultural rules.
The conflict perspective stresses the relevance of the power differential in changing drug abuse behavior and the societal values regarding its usage. They argue that drug abuse or use takes place as a reaction to the inequalities brought about by capitalism as people refer to drugs as the only means of handling frustration (Mooney, Knox, & Schacht, 2014). Also, most of the people believe that alcohol is allowed and is good given that it is taken by most of the white males who are in power.
The interactionist perspective puts a lot of emphasis on the social meanings. They argue that if the first drug experience is termed as pleasant, its usage will most likely to recur over time, hence making the users to be called drug users. And when the label drug user is fully internalized, the behavior will most likely to escalate or continue. The drug users motivate themselves through interactions with other drug users. For the first time users they are able to define the experience as either positive or negative depending on their feelings.
Some of the policies used to reduce the consumption of the legal drugs include economic incentives. They include raising the cost of the product through the increasing excise tax on them. Others include reimbursement for alcohol/smoking cessation programs, decreased health insurance premiums for the non-smokers and decreased car insurance for the teetotalers (Robertson, 2010). Some of the other government regulations which have been successful include increasing the legal drinking age, besides the clean air laws which restrict smoking in the public places have been very instrumental in the fight of drug abuse and its impact on the society and the environment. Some of the successful regulations used to fight illegal drugs include _x0093_zero-tolerance_x0094_ approach which makes use of very tough policies. It has resulted in the increased number of the prison/jail population.
Most of the people believe that the war on drug in the United States has been a failure. As a result, some of the policies which must be adopted include decriminalization. It entails the removal of the penalties attached to drugs and promoting medical approach rather that the criminal approach which makes people more defiant (Stimmel, 2014). This approach would encourage the users to seek for treatment options and also adopt preventive practices. For instance, many of the prisoners are jailed as a result of drug related cases, but if the government had adopted a decriminalization approach, these prisoners would not have cost the government to maintain them, given that this cost could have been used to rehabilitate them before being set back to the society.
The approach is politically friendly, given that most groups of the society have been affected by the drug users who are released back to the society after completing their prison term only to get back again to drug abuse. At the same time, these groups in the society may feel offended by this policy given the majority of them argue that the drug abusers should be made to pay for their deeds as a result of drug abuse, and this policy will just set them free hence they may be tempted to do it again.
The sociological perspective is very important since it provides a varied definition of drug abuse; that it occurs whenever tolerable social standards of the drug use are breached hence leading to adverse psychological, social, and/or physiological consequences such as arrest, divorce or hospitalization. The functionalist perspective is the best approach since it provides the best explanation of drug abuse as a social problem. It is only through the normlessness that people become defiant in the society, leading to social problems associated with drug abuse and other vices in the society. Norm and values are important facets in which the society is built on, and it is only through adhering to these norms and values that social problems can be avoided in the society or family.
Mooney, L. A., Knox, D., & Schacht, C. (2014). Understanding social problems. New Jersey: Cengage Learning.
National Institute of Drug Abuse. (2000). Magnitude. Retrieved from the Archives. drugabuse.gov: https://archives.drugabuse.gov/about/welcome/aboutdrugabuse/magnitude/
Robertson, A. (2010). Encyclopedia of U.S. political history. Washington: SAGE.
Stimmel, B. (2014). Drug abuse and social policy in America: The war that must be won. New Jersey: Routledge Publishers.
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