Drugs, Values and Society

Abstract

For a long time, the fight against drugs in most parts of the world and especially America has focused so much on the users of drugs but I don’t see drug abusers as the victim. I see the drug abuser’s friends & family as the victims. The financial and emotional stress placed on the family & friends of abusers is often too much. Society is also the victim since it usually falls to society to rehabilitate the abuser. No one forced the abuser to use drugs in the first place. The concepts of responsibility for oneself and self reliability are being lost in the younger generations. The abuser is a liability to society when the individual should be an asset and productive member of society.

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Introduction

The issue of substance abuse does not adversely affect only the users of drugs but also affects their friends and family relatives as well as other members of society who are not directly related to the abusers of drugs. A lot of financial and even emotional stress is subjected to the relatives and friends and the society at large because there is a lot that is invested in terms of money and time to rehabilitate the abusers. The emotional burden becomes too much when society views the problem as a self-imposed one on the abusers, since there is no one who forced them to use drugs. The current youth and young adults are fast losing the concept of self responsibility and reliability making them a liability to society (Thomas, 2003). Society on the other hand expects the youth and the young adults to be an asset to the general development of the community. This paper addresses the problem of drugs, values and society by examining different theories as well as the effects of substance abuse in our society. The historical development of the causes and consequences of drugs abuse and resulting crime as well as the violence will also be looked at. By the end of the main discussion, the researcher will differentiate the symptoms of drug abuse and treatment for various types of illegal drugs. The paper will also provide a comprehensive evaluation of different drug enforcement, control strategies and tactics and assess various narcotics investigative techniques. This will include interdiction and diversion investigation. The paper will compare and contrast types of drug abuse and modus operandi of drug offences in our society and around the world today. Finally the laws and statutes that effect narcotics/drug investigations and drug use will be examined.

Theories of sociological values and the effects of drug abuse on our society

According to (Thomas, 2003), Substance abuse reflects the accumulation of negative consequences such as social and legal as well as physical hazards to the users and other members of the society. Majority of youth that uses drugs often meet potentials for drug abuse disorders such as dangerous behavior, lack of responsibility in exercising appropriate roles and substance related disrespect of law. Adolescents also frequently suffer binges of substance abuse that can cause adverse consequences such as accidents and overdose. The behavior can also lead to another adverse event such as unsafe sex and aggressiveness. Teens who are on drugs are more likely to undertake adult roles such as marrying and bearing children including divorce earlier compared to teens who are not on drugs or who start using drugs during their young adulthood. Most teens that begin these roles are not adequately prepared for them and are mostly school drop out. As a result of financial pressure from their obligations, they seek employment in jobs that do not require a lot of skills and which pay very little. They frequently change jobs as a result of job instability and lack of employment. The little they earn is usually not enough for family subsistence and as a result, they engage in crime such as theft as well as vandalism.

(Leonard, 2005) argued that, individuals on drugs tend to have beliefs that impede their decision making in solving problems and cannot develop copping mechanisms to adapt to their social environment. They rarely achieve goals and as a result experience even greater isolation from society and suffer depression. Indeed, drug and substance abuse is not the only cause of all these problems but if preventive measures of substance abuse are put in place, a lot would be achieved in controlling most of the adverse consequences. If problems related to substance and drug abuse are reduced, the youth as well as young adults are more likely to develop into adulthood more responsibly. Research on drug abuse by youth has shown that, not all teens use substances and most of them who are on drugs either stop abusing them or drop the habit completely at their adulthood. Therefore, preventive techniques and programs are more effective when they are designed for individuals that are potential drug abusers. This is a better alternative than investing too much in a large number of teens who may never abuse drugs. Most of the youth who abuse drugs come from high risk backgrounds and prevention practitioners are likely to target such groups.

(Kennedy, 2000) found that, high risk populations for drug abuse are disadvantaged communities in terms of socio-economic status and youth who are brought up by parents who are themselves substance abusers. High risk takers individuals as well as those who are having academic problems are also likely to be among the high risk population. Another group at a high risk of abusing drugs is the targets of drug promoters such as cigarettes and alcohol among many others. When a minimum percentage level of substance abuse is specified within a particular environment, it is easier to define a population that is at a high risk of abusing drugs. This is because the risk of abusing drugs is known to increase with the number of drug users within a community. The said community may be a school or a peer group.

According to (Hamilton, 1999), various biological, psychological and sociological theories explain non-normative drug use as well as drug addiction. Biological theories suggest that, the human being is born with an innate physical mechanism that drives him to drug use and continuing with the habit after experimenting. Genetic theories explain that there is a genetic make-up that influences the tendency to use drugs and it differs in different individuals impacting the pattern of drug use. Another theory of the natural mind perceives the use of the drug as a universal issue that results from an innate drive. Human beings tend to experiment with some drugs when they are young and in the process, they receive either positive rewards or negative reinforcement for their early conduct. When drug use experiments, the individual gradually develops methods that he/she prefers and persists on them for the rest of life. This behavior is shaped by one’s desires and the availability of drugs as well as societal norms which later amounts to one’s experience. The individual develops a positive perception and assumes that, as long as he/she can feel good after taking a certain drug, then he/she can always continue with its use. If a person is a euphoria seeker, he/she tends to be motivated by a lot of pleasure that becomes compulsive and finally very expensive. The tendency becomes to some point disruptive. The individual is ready to make sacrifices on extremes to an extent of committing illegal crimes so as to obtain money to sustain the habit. Inadequate personality theory on the other hand suggests that, some individuals tend to engage in drugs to help them cope with problems in their daily life. Such people suffer from emotional defects and will use drugs as escapism failing to postpone their gratification once they get addicted.

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Historical development of the causes and consequences of drug abuse and resulting crime and violence

Crime and violence related to substance abuse are usually non-violent and mostly petty but the effect of the illicit drugs; the non-violent crime is highly harmful to society both at the micro-social level and at the transnational level. The members of the society are forced to live in operational drug markets in the midst of crime and violence under a lot of threats. (Julia, 2001) argued that, the crime and violence linked with substance abuse take different forms such as international cartels as well as a crime committed by or against abusers of drugs. Innocent individuals who sometimes are not aware of the crossfire are also caught up in the midst of these cultures. The international narcotic control board is reviewing the issue of drugs, values and society. This is being done at the societal level with a close look at drug abuse and violence in relation to individuals as well as families with respect to neighborhoods and the community at large. The focus of the board has been to account for how all these relate to criminality as well as victimization. One of the objectives of the board has been to capture the attention of the governments in how drug abuse and drug trafficking are related at the micro level and how they lead to the growth of crime at the community level.

According to (Julia, 2001), the outcome of several surveys conducted by the board shows that, substance abuse has been a critical factor linked with criminal acts including violence such as homicides. Evidence has shown that, as drug abuse increase in society, there is a corresponding increase in the number of crimes committed. However, not all drug abusers are involved in violence neither are they criminals. Crime associated with illegal drug trafficking can be a reflection of a deep-rooted culture of crime in some societies with its origin in other sources like unequal distribution of resources as well as civil unrest and war. Delinquency in street children has also increased drug abuse and trafficking in the illicit market where they have the role of couriers. They are also often killed for they have a lot of information and sometimes because they find themselves in the crossfire between gangs and drug dealers. Therefore, criminality can cause drug abuse and drug abuse can also promote criminality and the two behaviors can also be caused by a third factor such as biological, environmental and psychological factors as well as situational variables. Techniques used by police to track illicit drug markets may also impact negatively on violence as well as criminality associated with substance abuse.

Symptoms of drug abuse and treatment for various types of illegal drugs

When a person uses drugs repeatedly, he/she eventually becomes a victim of addiction and compulsively seeks the substance without minding the physical and psychological effects it may have on him. Majority of drug user belief after using the drugs, they would forget part of their problems while others take as a substitute of something else in their daily life. No drug user initially intends to be addicted or cause hardship in his/her life. Unfortunately, drug addiction is inevitable after long use. When it happens to an individual, his/her problems worsen and consequently even more problems arise. Some of the drugs that cause addiction include stimulants, hallucinogens and inhalants. Others fall under the category of prescription drugs and depressants. It is important to note that, addiction can be caused by either illegal or legal drugs and anyone can be a victim regardless of ones potential to succeed in life (Reynolds, 2004).

According to (Reynolds, 2004), most of the reasons given by drug users as to why they start the habit are depression and anxiety as well as failure in managing a situation in life and therefore these are the very first symptoms of the drug users. Other symptoms used to tell whether a person is on drugs or has been addicted are the victim thinking about the substance consistently and lack of proper coordination of events. The suspect tends to have a speech that is rapid and sometimes slurred and feels drowsy with experiences of hallucinations. Most of the users find it difficult to stop the habit of using drugs they have been addicted to on their or own and they tend to experience memory loss. The drug user experiences nausea most of the time and the eyes become red. The person becomes irritable and frequently engages in unnecessary arguments out of a very small issue. Drug addiction causes frequent mood swings and the victim sometimes experiences complete calmness and becomes less enthusiastic in general matters of life. This causes financial instability and the relationship breaks up including loss of jobs. Other physical effects include contracting diseases such as HIV and hepatitis, arthritis as well respiratory problems. When an addict tries to withdraw, he experiences insomnia and nausea accompanied by vomiting and pain in the muscles. He/she suffers anxiety and an irresistible desire for drugs.

Different drug enforcement and control strategies and tactics (Lenard, 2000) argued that, the first priority in drug enforcement and control strategies has been directed to reducing the harm associated with drug use in society with an aim of providing a lasting solution to substance abuse. For a long time, drug policy in the United States has dwelt on arresting individuals connected with an illegal substance. However, nothing much has been achieved in terms of preventing deaths and diseases associated with drugs as well as drug related violence. The number of teens using drugs has also continually increasing. Drug policy therefore needs to be critically reviewed and congress should stop annual plans that have always given the same promise. The war on drugs should be simple and motivated by politics at the beginning and then should progress to a more advanced health and social approach.

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A non-partisan panel comprising of experts should be commissioned to evaluate America’s great experiment on drugs and alcohol. The experiment that lasted for 13 years from 1920-1933recieved total failure and the law that was meant to meet success had to be repealed. Since the war started in 1914 with much been initiated by the Harrison narcotics act, it has been getting more and more expensive every year. For the policy to be truly effective there should be a national commission analyzing America’s approach as well as recommending new and better strategies. The commission should be independent and should be allowed to consider all options for tobacco and alcohol as well as all illegal drugs. Recently the issue of legalization has been considered for debate. The law is evaluating whether controlling criminals is effective when it is done by police and prosecutors as well as prisons or it would be better if legal controls were given more priorities. Legal controls would focus more on taxation and implementation of administrative laws to control illegal drug markets (Lenard H. (2000).

According to (Petersen, 2006), cities and states should be allowed to experiment with approaches of their own in controlling drugs because they are important sources of innovation in public policy. City councils are more efficient in providing a solution to drug problems because they are more close to the citizens. Identifying such a solution at the national level is almost impossible. An example of where the city council has been so effective is Boston city which has been awarded distinction as the only city in America that has effectively dealt with the problem of juvenile homicides. Boston operates on a program that involves community policing and ensures that youth who are at risk of drug abuse are also provided with meaningful activities immediately after they leave school. The federal government therefore requires being flexible enough to municipalities in addressing drug abuse as an issue that touches directly on public health. A number of drug policies have unfortunately led to the adoption of punitive approaches such as excessive penalties which consequently undermines efforts for productive policies on drugs. Drug policies are supposed to allow flexibility by the local government in developing new policies with an emphasis on education as well as an economic opportunity. The focus should be on disease prevention and the provision of other punishment instead of incarceration. Victims of drug abuse should be given regular effective treatment and rehabilitative services. The program adopted should respect individual rights in the process of rehabilitation as well as ensuring the victim does not encounter any harm through the process.

(Petersen, 2006), argued that, the market for marijuana should be separated from other illegal substances because when the law prohibits marijuana, the users are more likely to seek alternatives to other hand drugs. Individuals who buy marijuana are also exposed to other drugs because they all share the same markets. Therefore, it is important to prioritize separation of the market for the two before any state successfully reduces the use of heroin as well as cocaine.

Narcotics investigative techniques, including interdiction and diversion investigations

According to (David, 1999), the department of narcotic interdiction is an enforcement agency whose responsibilities are to fight control production of narcotics as well as their sale and use. It actively detects and puts in place measures to prevent trafficking through investigation. It also recovers the proceeds of drug trafficking and controls precursor chemicals associated with the manufacture of illicit substances. The department provides stringent control at busy entry and exit routes to ensure there is no inflow of illicit substances. Inspections at these points receive a lot of support from intelligence officers with reinforcement of computer systems, modern high technology equipment as well as detector dogs for drugs. This fight against drugs extends to a proactive investigation involving drug trafficking syndicates through surveillance on targeted syndicates at every level. The department ensures that, all drugs from illicit activities are confiscated to prevent the traffickers from re-investing the proceeds and consequently fund more trafficking including related criminal activities such as money laundering. The department has achieved its goals by establishing a licensing system to control and monitor precursor substances used in the manufacture of these drugs. Through this strategy, the department ensures such chemicals do not find means for illicit diversion both at local and international levels.

Types of drugs of abuse and modus operandi of drug offenses in our society and around the world today

(Thomas, 2003) found that, the use of drugs has been plying an important role in man’s history and every culture has identified with a drug that alters the operation of the mind in a unique way. Even Eskimos who were known to be exceptional in not using drugs were at one time introduced to alcohol by the west and henceforth continued taking it. Therefore, the use of drugs before it develops into drug abuse has been used as part of culture in most American societies. However, drug use has also been one of the most controversial issues all over the world. Studies indicate that in every culture, there are negative perceptions on certain drugs while other drugs are actually accepted and people are even encouraged to use them. It is therefore common to find a particular drug being attacked in some communities while it is accepted in others. For example, tobacco was accepted by American Indians especially in religious ceremonies while in turkey, any one caught using tobacco would even face a death sentence. Indian yogis are regular users of marijuana but they condemn strongly the consumption of opiates as well as alcohol. In west America, new drugs which are not valued by any culture have been introduced in the last century. As a result, there has been a general sudden tremendous attack on drugs. Regular users of drugs such as heroin, cigarettes and cocaine consider them as having little redeeming qualities. Such drugs however are the ones mostly used in most communities. Different communities take drugs for different reasons such as religious practices and to enhance social interaction. Others take them as a cure for diseases, promoting physical performance as well as stimulation of one’s creativity. Such drugs taken for leisure include coffee, peyote and tobacco.

Laws and statutes that effect narcotics/drug investigations and drug use (Thomas, 2003) argued that, in the United States, the authority to control substance use is a responsibility of the federal government. Interstate commerce involving trade in drugs is controlled through the authority of the federal government. Today, several states design their own models on drug legislation. The main objectives of the current law include controlling the manufacture and selling of illicit drugs such as antidepressants and sleeping pills. The law also prohibits and administers punishment to those who are caught manufacturing or possessing illegal drugs such as marijuana and heroin and any other dangerous drug even when it is legal. In the twentieth century, the government tried to define legal and illegal drugs because before that time, there was no much control on the production and use of drugs. Between the 1980s and 1990s, the United States of America used diplomacy to other governments such as Bolivia to influence them in ending drug production. Most of these states are dependant on America in terms of aids and loans and had to comply with America’s initiatives in order to continue enjoying the aids.

Conclusion

Drugs, values and society are a phenomenon that has generated a lot of debate because of the deep rooted culture regarding the purpose of various drugs. The fact that some drugs are accepted in some cultures while they are regarded as illegal in others is a major drawback in the fight against drug use and abuse. Most adverse effects of drugs are now obvious through research conducted for a long time. America’s great experiment on prohibition of alcohol and drugs that failed after years of high expectation should be a lesson to the rest of the world. The fight against drug abuse cannot be achieved through excessive force on the users and traders of illegal drugs. The solution can only be found through community education on the effect of drug abuse on the economic, social, political and physical well being of the society at large as well as individuals.

References

  1. Thomas T. (2003): The Ritual Persecution of Drugs, Addicts, and Pushers: Oxford University Press pp. 23-34
  2. Leonard D. (2005): Alcohol and Illicit Drugs: Blackwell Synergy pp. 19-27
  3. Kennedy J. (2000): Drug and Alcohol Dependency: Butterworth-Heinemann pp. 25-36
  4. Hamilton A. (1999): Drug Harm Minimization Approach: Oxford University Press pp. 43-55
  5. Julia B. (2001): From Drug to Dragon: A Challenge to Society: Blackwell Synergy pp. 67-83
  6. Julia B. (2001): How to Quit Drugs for Good: Three Rivers Press pp. 54-59
  7. Reynolds G. (2004): Public Health Law and Regulation: Federation Press pp. 87-99
  8. Lenard H. (2000): Hazards in Using Psychoactive Drugs: Josser-Bass pp. 36-41
  9. Petersen D. (2006): Drugs and the Elderly: Social and Pharmacological Issues: Charles C Thomas Pub Ltd pp. 79-92
  10. Platt J. (1986): Heroin Addiction: Theory, Research, and Treatment: Krieger Publishing Company pp. 26-34
  11. DT Jimmy T. (2001): A History of Opiate Addiction in America: Harvard University Press pp. 19-24
  12. David M. (1999): Narcotic Addiction in Britain and America: The Impact of Public Policy: Greenwood Press pp. 44-48
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