Drugs and substance abuse is one of the major problems in the United States. A drug is a substance that can change or disrupt bodys normal functioning. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) (2016), a drug is also defined as a substance that is taken or administered to modify the individuals behavior for his/her benefits. Substance abuse can be defined as the use of drugs for other purposes than the intended one and in a manner that may damage the physical functioning of human body. Drug categories that are most often abused include hallucinogens, depressants, such as barbiturates and stimulants. Alcohol is another typical drug that is often abused. Many of the above-mentioned drugs are illegal in the United States, and if one is found in possession of them, there can be very serious consequences, for example, serving a term in jail and paying a fine. The current research paper analyzes issues of drug and alcohol abuse and indicates how it has led to poor health among users and increased violence and crime in the society. Additionally, the essay aims to provide solutions and recommendations that certain agencies need to employ, to reverse the existing trend.
1. The increase level in the rates of drug and alcohol abuse among teenagers has led to the increase of crime and violence cases in the society.
2. The increase in the rates of drug and alcohol abuse is the major cause of poor health and users sanitation.
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The research has mainly adopted qualitative techniques. The obtained information was collected through vigorous internet research from credible and reliable academic databases. The journal articles were collected from Google Scholar, PubMed, EBSCOhost, and Academic Search Premier. In Google Scholar, the search term was drug and alcohol abuse, and a total of 200,000 articles was found. To narrow down the articles, I filtered them based on date of publication and selected those from 2005 and the most recent ones. I also selected those that were published by renowned companies, such as Elsevier and Wellies online database. I used PubMed, when researching on the pharmacology of some of the commonly abused drugs, such as Alcohol. PubMed contains scholarly and peer-reviewed medical articles, and its credibility cannot be questioned. The search term for Academic Search Premier and EBSCOhost was effects of drugs and substance abuse; EBSCOhost and Academic Search Premier engines were mainly used when looking for the latest statistics on drugs and alcohol abuse in the United States and some of the main causes or factors that have led to drug use among adolescents and youths. The primary sources for this research were collected through interviews and administering open answer questionnaires. The gathered response was then collected and summarized; it was included as a part of the research paper.
Several research theories were employed in the current study. For instance, as it is evident in the research methodology, the most evident one was the grounded theory. This theory aims at producing new knowledge or adding more knowledge to the already existing theories and thus, describes various experiences. The data collection technique in the grounded theory includes interviews, observations, literature reviews, and documentary analysis. In this case, the selected journals for this research were, therefore, chosen because they contained peer-reviewed articles that cover various areas of specific research interest. They were coded in relation to authors affiliation.
According to the foundation for a drug-free world, which is a non-governmental organization, statistics indicate that in the United States, alcohol kills more teenagers than any other drug does. Drug abuse leads to other negative factors, such as homicides, accidents, and suicides. Similar findings also indicate that those who consume alcohol are 7.5 times more likely to use other types of illegal drugs, such as heroin and marijuana; it was indicated that about 6.6% of the gross population reported heavy drinking, while an astonishing 3.9 million are currently in treatment due to substance abuse problems (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2015). The most commonly abused drugs are cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, steroid, Vicodin and other types of prescription drugs (Hoaken & Stewart, 2003).
In the article published by Saki Knafo for the Huffington Post, the author indicates that white Americans are more likely to use illegal drugs than their black counterparts; however, the blacks are the ones who often end up in custody (Knafo, 2016). According to the research, a higher percentage of whites has affirmed that they have used some of the hard drugs, while Crack is more popular among the blacks (Knafo, 2016). The above-mentioned statistics, therefore, indicate that drug abuse management is a big problem for the state and federal governments. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the amount of money that has been spent on illicit drugs by the government is more than $700 thousand annually (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2016). Over the recent years, more teenagers have been actively involved in drugs and alcohol abuse.
Some of the drugs and substance abuse causes are both psychological and environmental. Among the common causes of psychological abuse, mainly stem from past traumatic experiences, such as sexual abuse, chaos and home and neglect by parents. It is because of these factors that people often resort to using drugs, in order to decrease the levels of stress and pain. This, in turn, leads to the addiction, that is basically, compulsive drug seeking desire in people, regardless of harmful consequences. Drug addiction can be categorized as a brain disease, because it causes changes in the structure and functions of human brain system. This later leads to the changes in neural system that makes one develop aggressive behavior. Sudden changes in the brain can also be manifested by poor personal hygiene and onset of other diseases and disorders (Hoaken & Stewart, 2003). Other causes of drug abuse are related to the environment that one is living in and may include peer groups that promote use of drugs, participation in some sporting events, where people are encouraged to use performance enhancing drugs. There is enough evidence that links drug abuse with poor health and violence. According to the research conducted, there is a direct relation between drug abuse and emerging cases of domestic violence (Hoaken & Stewart, 2003). According to the study, it was discovered that individuals who are prone to abusing drugs are either violent or very arrogant, which has led to high rates of domestic violence in some families.
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Spouses, living together with drugs users, are often subjected to sexual, emotional, and verbal abuse from their partners. Perpetrators, in this case, are both females and males, despite evidence showing that it was mostly women who were battered. In many cases, a partner who abuses alcohol comes home late and starts engaging in quarrels with his/her spouse. The resultant effect of this is that a victim can become desperate and lack social power or self-esteem and may, eventually, end up living a very isolated life. In the case of alcohol, for instance, wisdom tells that those who are under the influence of alcohol tend to act aggressively. In a review that was conducted in 11 countries to investigate on this hypothesis, it was discovered that about 62% of offenders, who had been convicted in relation to a violent crime, had been consuming alcohol before or during the incidence. Additionally, it was discovered that alcohol was very much associated with heavy drinking (Hoaken & Stewart, 2003). Alcohol-related aggression has been demonstrated in adult men and women (Pihl & Hoaken, 2004). In the same study, one of the means by which alcohol can cause aggression is because of its rewarding properties. The rewarding properties of alcohol begin to take effect, while it is still being absorbed into the systemic circulation. Since it obeys first order reaction principle, the concentration curve tends to influence its effect the same way as cocaine and amphetamine. The result of this is increased stimulation and heart beat that are collectively known as the psychomotor stimulant effect that tend to increase the probability of one developing aggressive behaviors, leading to provocative and confrontational behaviors (Pihl, Peterson, & Lau, 1993).
Pharmacological research indicates that alcohol has an effect on gamma amino butyric acid (GABA), which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter of central nervous system. Many drugs, such as alcohol, increase its secretion and mediate the perception of threat. What this means is that, in case one consumes alcohol before a provocative event, it will stimulate the release of inhibitory neurotransmitters and, as a result, reduce a persons ability to carry out the correct response that is freight and makes one vulnerable (Hall, Hawkinberry, & Moyers-Scott, 2010). Consequently, the research indicates that alcohol gives the impression that a person cannot feel pain because it was once used as a surgical anesthetic; a person may be misguided into engaging in violent behavior, believing that they will experience minimal pain (Hoaken & Stewart, 2003).
The same is evident with other common drugs; benzodiazepines, for instance, has often been linked to anger and aggression because it inhibits anxiety. The fact that it is still prescribed in wrong instances is an indication that many people have become addicts. Other very commonly abused drugs in the United States that are linked to aggression and violent behavior is cannabis. Though research has indicated that those intoxicated are less likely to be aggressive, its violence inducing character is mostly evident during the withdrawal stage, whereby an individual usually exhibits interpersonal aggression (Hall et al., 2010). Consequently, the fact that many people who have been convicted of serious offenses, such as robbery with violence, have affirmed to have been using Marijuana and it is an indicating factor that this drug is capable of inducing violent behaviors on its users (Hoaken & Stewart, 2003). Regarding causing aggressiveness, cocaine and amphetamine also have such effects because they are classified among the psycho-stimulants and, thus, may give false courage.
Concerning linking drug abuse to poor health, those who are prone to this practice often find it hard to get and maintain active employment. Many organizations and businesses have posters, indicating that they are drug-free zones and those entering or working there should not use any type of drugs. As a result, these aggregates cannot have enough money to purchase drugs, while, at the same time, pay for their health insurance coverage. The result of this is that, in the case of sudden illness or an accident, they are not able to get the access to proper health. The research also indicates that those using drugs usually have poor personal hygiene (Hoaken & Stewart, 2003). This increases their susceptibility to disease microbes, and they tend to develop diseases easily. Drug addicts spend a lot of time sitting at home with their peers and are rarely involved in any physical activities. They are also exposed to various junk food advertisements on the television. As a result, they are likely to develop poor eating habits and often become obese. Currently, obesity is a major concern for the American government and measures need to be put to ensure that it is managed promptly. Another health problem, linked to drug abuse, is seen in that it drains money that could have been spent in other areas, more useful for a society.
In my opinion, many high school students are consuming alcohol, and this is a dangerous trend. Some of the factors that have led to such behaviors are that teenagers want to look older and seem more mature, they are bored or are afraid of their reputation, hence for them to continue being with the cool kids, they have to indulge in substance abuse. From an individual perspective, I believe that accessibility is the major factor that has contributed to high levels of drug use among school going children. Currently, it is very easy for a high school student to have access to alcohol. One of the effects of drug abuse is violence. Many of those who engage in drug abuse in the neighborhood are often feared by others because of their aggressive nature. Though I have not had an experience with a drug addict, however, many people have often claimed that they like extorting money from people buying crack and those who fail to produce certain amounts are usually punished. Consequently, since one of the known effects of drug abuse is carelessness, it is evident that drug abuse usually makes addicts less concerned with their physical appearance and personal cleanliness. In schools, those who use hard drugs need time to take a shower and dress up, so, consequently, they are often absent from school.
In terms of what we can do to help, I strongly believe that everyone can make a difference. To start with, mass education about drug abuse can be really helpful. For instance, many young people believe that drugs can take their problems away. On the contrary, other people engage in drug use because of idleness and boredom. As an intervention, everyone should take some time and talk to those who are abusing drugs. People should be encouraged to look out for each other and not bury their heads in the sand, while their peers are ruining their lives. I believe that drugs are a waste of time and resources because they destroy a persons brain and self-respect. Although, no one wants to be a person who always stands up against friends, when it is for a good cause, then it is worth doing so. Government and anti-drug abuse agencies need to ensure that those who sell drugs are arrested, and those, already addicted to drugs, are taken to rehabilitation centers, so that they can recover and continue leading a normal life.
From my perspective, the fight against drugs and substance abuse in the United States requires everyone to take action. Parents, for instance, should educate their children about the dangers of substance abuse and encourage them to maintain good companies. Schools also have a very important role to play – they should include drug abuse lessons and clubs, so as to educate more and provide guidance.