The legalization of drugs has been at the center of interminable debate. Drugs have widely been perceived as a dominant threat to the moral fabric of society. Drug use has been attributed as the source responsible for a myriad of key issues. For instance, it is believed that drugs have exacerbated the already weak status of mental health in the United States in which some individuals suffering from mental illness administer illicit substances such as heroin or cocaine in an attempt to self-medicate. Moreover, drugs are blamed for turning auspicious members of the community into worthless degenerates.
In his article, “Toward a Policy on Drugs,” Elliot Currie discusses “the magnitude and severity of our drug crisis” (para. 21), and how “no other country has anything resembling the American drug problem” (para. 21). The best way to describe America’s drug problem is that it is a hole continuously digs itself deeper. America’s drug issues were likely comparable to other country’s at one point in time, but today it can be blamed on the “street cultures” (para. 21) that continue to use and spread the use of illegal drugs. These street cultures transcend the common stereotype of drug users, such as low income communities in cities or welfare recipients, and can be found in every economic class and location. They are groups of people who have
A behavior that is considered criminal in everyday life is drug use, but it can be encouraged throughout different group settings. Social Interactions look at how people come to abuse a drug. Sociologist view drug use as a learned behavior that people are socialized into. Drugs are most commonly encouraged by peers in settings such as school. Sociologists study the drug culture and have a theory to solve the drug problems you would need to change the drug culture in society.
The increased interest on drug policy by the United States government took a heavy toll on African Americans, as “black Americans then constituted approximately 12 percent of our country's population and 13 percent of drug users. Nevertheless, they accounted for 33 percent of all drug-related arrests, 62 percent of drug-related convictions and 70 percent of drug-related incarcerations” (Qk3). African Americans were heavily targeted during these times of increased vigilance in the past with increased focus on drug policies, as it was easier with the active laws to focus attention on African Americans because of the difference in severity of sentence length depending on the type of drug in possession. Since crack cocaine was more common among African Americans the penalty for being caught with crack cocaine was much more severe than that of the penalty for powder cocaine, which was a staple among the
Functionalism is usually analyzed as macrostructure which includes things like school systems and economic factors that can have an influence on substance abuse. From a functionalist perspective, someone can be using drugs and alcohol abusively based on issues in their social life. Society has this norm where people are required to work to be able to live comfortably independently. There are people who balance work and school which becomes stressful but they are required to work for financial support and they need education for a better future so they are forced to do it. With these heavy responsibilities, a person seeks leisure during their time off.
Drug abusers’ children are neglected, abused, and even abandoned. In the 1870’s, anti-opium laws were first directed and Chinese immigrants. During the early 1900’s, in the South, the first anti-cocaine laws were directed at black men. In the 1910’s and 1920’s, in the Midwest and Southwest the first anti-marijuana laws were directed at Mexicans – both immigrants and Americans. In modern time, major disproportioned drug enforcement
The previous decades saw increased the decriminalization of certain drugs, such as marijuana, as they began to be used more casually. However, the 1980s and the specifically the Reagan administration saw the “War on Drugs” start. Led by Nancy Reagan, the “Just Say No” campaign dominated the headlines as parents became concerned about their children using drugs (Goode & Ben-Yehuda, n.d.). Under new leadership, the government began to criminalize drug use to unprecedented levels.
The continuous use of narcotics results in addiction, and financial struggles due to the costly upkeep. “Financial problems are one of the major side effects of drug and substance abuse” (Buaggett, 2015). Addicts cannot adequately take an active role in the economic activities, as the use of drugs inhibits the abilities of the users to earn a daily living. Due to the instability of finances, this would result in selling personal belongings to continue funding the substance of choice, and depending on the addicts living situation, this could lead to losing their house or being removed from their current housing. While being under the influence, an addicts voice of reason is jeopardized, resulting in criminal activities which raise the chances of being apprehended by the law enforcers, as well as, heavy fines are imposed.
The government publicized the emergence of crack cocaine as defense strategy to create a favorable public opinion for the drug war: “The media was saturated with images of black crack whores, crack dealers, and crack babies—images that seemed to conform the worst negative racial stereotypes about impoverished inner-city residents” (Alexander, 5). During the war, arrests and convictions for drug offenses saw an amazing increase, especially among African Americans. Because of the drug war, the United States now holds the highest incarceration rate in the world even surpassing more the world’s most suppressive nations. No other country imprisons more of their racial or ethnic minorities than the United States does: “The United States imprisons a larger percentage of its black population than South Africa did at the height of Apartheid” (Alexander, 6). The War on Drugs fueled mass imprisonment in the United States in which African American were the main victims.
More interestingly, the drugs that are more common to be either produce, used or sold by African-Americans are given harsher penalties than drugs that are often used by the white population such as powder cocaine. Which has in turn, greatly contributes to the high incarceration rates among blacks, and the discretions of sentences given to blacks over other races. The heightened prison population has affected the taxpayers. Due to a
Literature Review Substance Use Disorder Defined According to the American Psychological Association, the definitional boundaries of what addiction is has changed multiple times over the years. Addiction was relabeled dependence in 1964 by the World Health Organization, as it thought that the word addiction closely linked to opiate use. A few years ago, the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) was released and combined the diagnostic categories for substance abuse and substance dependence (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). These diagnoses have replaced the term with substance use disorders.
This meant that having only 5 grams of crack in one 's possession meant a minimum of five years jail time while having 500 grams of powder cocaine equaled the same amount of jail time (WIKIPEDIA). This law along with pre-existing racial prejudice made it that black people are incarcerated at a rate ten times higher than whites (5D). This was observed by a sociologist Katherine Beckett and her research team in
Some substance abusers life is “dominated by drug related activates” (Stevens & Smith, pg. 113). The entire day is spent in the pursuit of their next fix” (Stevens & Smith, pg. 113). A person who uses drugs; “will immerse themselves in talking about drug and other people who use” (Stevens & Smith, pg. 113). When a person has no regard for personal harm to gain drugs they are completely out of control. There only purpose in life completely revolves around their drug use and they’ll do anything to get it.