Illicit drug trafficking and abuse have been a debilitating problem not only for the United States but for many countries the world over.
While a specific reason or a set of reasons cannot be set forth to cause drug addiction, since a plethora of factors, direct or indirect, could combine to form addiction, it is necessary that necessary steps be taken to stem the flow of illicit drugs. While it is heartening to note that opium production areas are now reporting lowered production, it is a matter of concern that illicit drug cartels are still operating, and in the process, strongly amassing large profits for their owners and agents.
It is necessary that the government comes down strongly on drugs, especially by young people, by regulating sales and making necessary laws to discourage its consumption levels through enforcement and penalties.
This paper considers the reasons why drugs are used in society, and while stressing the damages that it could possibly cause to society, suggest certain measures that could possibly address the problem and underlying issues in a more sustainable and long-term manner.
It is necessary that the will of society to cleanse such evils are stronger and more potent than the machinations of the forces that are bend on ruining society with indiscriminate and commercial use.
Why are drugs prevalent in society?
There are many aspects that impinge upon the prevalence of drugs in society, especially non-prescription drugs and illegal drugs like marijuana, cocaine, heroin, etc. It would be presumptuous to consider one or a few reasons as to why banned drugs are so prevalent in our society, especially among youngsters and teenage groups.
The reasons could be broadly classified into:
- Biological theories
- Physiological theories
- Sociological theories
It would be necessary to offer an analysis of each of these reasons for the wide prevalence and acceptability of drugs in our society.
The biological reasons stem from the fact that the genetic patterning of an individual may frame his tastes and cravings in later life. Although there are schools of thought that opine differently, it is believed that there is a high propensity or likelihood for a child of an alcoholic to become an alcoholic himself. “If they drink, children of alcoholics are four to nine times more likely to develop severe alcohol problems than others.” (A parenting perspective: Are my children at higher risk for alcoholism, 1998, p.2).
While this may be partly true, especially in empirical settings, there is a stronger likelihood. It has been gathered from research studies that children of parents who imbibe alcohol have a higher tolerance level for the drug in terms of lowered disorientation after its use, lesser negative responses, and also the ability to avoid being inebriated after limited ingestion of the drug.
Another theory that is in circulation is that drug addiction arises out of metabolic imbalances. Certain bodies crave certain fuels either out of necessity or for pleasure. In this case, it is seen that metabolic imbalance, if any may be minimized through the use of drugs. Once a person undergoes drug ingestion, his metabolic deficiencies are satiated, and thus he much relaxed. “An alcoholic can develop several forms of addiction to alcohol simultaneously (psychological, metabolic, and neurochemical), and they all must be treated in order to effectively treat the condition.” (Alcoholism, 2005).
Over time, the use of drugs helps overcome metabolic imbalances but develops an addiction. Soon a stage is reached when demand for drugs takes over, and the hedonistic aspect may be conquered by a sheer craving for the drug.
The writer wishes to question what exactly causes this initial metabolic imbalance. Is it inherent, or is it acquired? If it is inherent, then it would form a part of genetic reasoning and not really a metabolic one. If acquired, are the symptoms a sign of a malady that could be treated with medicines other than the kind of drugs the patient takes- therapy sessions, psychiatric evaluation, and counseling, or other medical interventions?
The physiological buildup of a person helps determine his disposition and ability the use drug. Personality reasons are being sighted as the reasons for drug use, which is some persons can discard the use of the drug while others are addicted.
It is necessary to understand why this is so? Is this because the person who is able to discard the habit has a stronger personality or simply because he may not know the right technique to derive maximum pleasure from his pursuit of drug use. In drug use, the aspect of inclination or the need to use the drug is important- the need may arise due to a plethora of reasons, peer pressures, pleasure principle, to be part of the scene, or just for the sake of friendship. This is at the initial level of drug usage.
But as one enters deeper into the drug quagmire, the reasons may become different – the craving becomes real and overwhelming, as is the state of body and mind when the subject is denied the drug. Thus while drugs stimulate latent cerebral sensations and give a high, it is also possible to give a low when the dosage is reduced or stopped.
Therefore, drug use could cause serious personality maladjustments, and dysfunctional mechanisms could set it faster and earlier for a drug user than a normal person.
By far, the most convincing could be that of sociological reasons that impinge upon drug use and abuse. Drugs offer temporary relief from the stress of modern living; it makes one forget his immediate surroundings and real-world and transports him to a surreal world of sense pleasures and mental awakenings. Although both affluent and poor sections of society use drugs, it is seen that the major consumers are the poorer classes, who not only use but also supply and deal in them. It is seen that the poorer classes are not able to overcome their circumstances and be able to afford strong resistances against habituating themselves against the evils of permanent drug (ab) use.
“The great American tragedy is that prohibition has created a vast new area of criminal activity—crimes such as robbery, burglary, and prostitution committed in order to pay for the high prices of illegal drugs. It is well documented that drug users commit crimes to pay the high prices brought on by prohibition and that wealthy addicts do not.” (Machan & Thornton, 1991).
Thus, maybe because of their socio-economic status and color (non-whites), their marginalized and underprivileged conditions make them prone and vulnerable to drug addictions and drug connections with criminalized strata of society who engage in the commercial exploitation of illegal drugs.
How do illegal drugs affect society?
Illegal drug trafficking and use affect society in a number of ways. The main detriments would be in terms of:
- Health hazards –physical, mental, and psychotic.
- Socio-economic hazards – greater incidence of crimes, violence, and drug-related offenses.
- Loss of government revenues and economic losses to the state
- Social disorganization and family disintegration
- At micro levels, Drug abuse leads to unemployment, loss of incomes, fall in standards of living, and economic degradation.
By far, the most important hazard in terms of drug abuse would be the health hazards, including drug-induced suicides and homicides. A large portion of drug users comprise young and impressionable youths, and once they are ensnared in the drug vice, it is indeed difficult to come out of it. The health detriments would be in loss of weight, problems in concentration and appetite for food, disinterest in studies, longing to be alone, and becoming high strung and stressed.
It is also believed that drugs could cause severe conditions like manic depression, memory loss, and suicidal tendencies and sound the prognosis of serious psychiatric.
“Doctors often treat alcohol or drug addiction first if they believe either is causing the depression. In many instances, simultaneous treatment for addiction and depression is warranted.” (Treating Depression: Alcohols or Drugs, 2008). Drugs and anti-social activities go hand in hand. When persons have no money for buying drugs, they may steal or kill to gain it; in a group, they may loot a shop or assault bystanders for money. Thus the law and order issues created by the use of drugs go beyond just routine matters. The use of powerful drugs like heroin, marijuana is habit-forming and contributes significantly to major substance abuse cases that could be fatal not only for the users but also for society.
“Whenever specific drugs are temporally related to sexual excess, crime, traffic accidents or use of other drugs, the person and his will tend to be forgotten, and the drug itself becomes the villain.” (Nixon, 1972).
Illegal drugs are routed through illegal channels and obviously are not duty levied. Not only does this encourage smuggling, but it is also a major revenue loss for the State exchequer. Drug operatives and cartels in the US fly out tons of contraband drugs from poppy fields in Afghanistan, Pakistan and have to offload in US bases for distribution, all of which are illegal and contraband. They provide instant money to the dealers and suppliers to drug addicts. Although there are stringent laws banning entry of contraband drugs, with strong punishment (in certain countries, there is a death penalty for drug smuggling), the operatives, in most cases, are able to carry out their nefarious tasks. In order to actively discourage it is necessary that “The profits from illicit drug trafficking can be effectively seized through asset forfeiture and used to help state efforts to dry up the demand for these drugs.” (Policy Position: The Federal Role in Reducing International Drug Trafficking, 2008).
At the micro-level, drug habits are most noxious and dreaded, and no employer would like to employ a known drug addict. Unemployment and impoverishments are the major factors that push drug addicts to become conduits and agents in the vicious drug Mafia gangs and outfits. It is a vicious circle from which a person, once enlisted, has little choice of escape. But the rewards for a drug addict are too enticing to be ignored. For one, there is a constant supply for his drug demands, and he is also given fair income.
The family status is also deeply affected by drug addiction. While it is seen that children of parents who have strong parental bonding and religious affiliations are less likely to become drug addicts in later lives, children of broken and underprivileged classes of society, with lack of proper parental care, guidance and attention are more likely to develop the habit, due to friends circles, peer indulgences and group dynamics. Acquiring drug habits among younger people are not individualized but are initiated by group interactions and pressures. However, it is not only individuals but also families of habituated drug abusers who are affected and who suffer major financial losses and setbacks due to drug habits. Even marriage and family life is not very enticing proposing unless the partner is also a drug addict.
Thus drug habits not only cause serious damages and detriment to the individual’s family but also to the society in that regrouping becomes a major issue in terms of costs and rehabilitation.
There are other aspects that impinge upon drug habits in society in that inveterate.
Drug users do not serve a useful role or purpose in society. On the other hand, they may become social threats and future criminals since their lifestyles and dispositions are more inclined towards social malaise. Moreover, associations and constant interaction with similar drug groups reinforce their self-beliefs and strengthen their inner resolves.
It is seen that associations and interactions among like-minded people offer not only solace and consolation to drug abusers but also offer them avenues to indulge in other socially degenerating activities like sex, violence, rapes, and other culpable offenses.
It is also seen that a combination of drugs like alcohol, cocaine/marijuana, tobacco, and anti-stress drugs could enhance hedonistic lifestyles but also cause immense detriment and permanent health hazards.
The social constraints of modern society dictate that people who comprise a useful society need to conform to societal mores, conventions, and edicts and shall not transgress socially accepted and respected customs. However, it is seen that drug addicts and abusers seldom conform to social norms and, therefore, could be considered outside these laws and customs by their conduct and behavior. It is necessary for the greater interests of society that the prevailing drug situation is improved and strong steps are taken towards mitigation and easing the evils of drug abuse.
How could drug use be identified?
It is first of all necessary to identify the existing and vulnerable areas where drug abuse is prevailing; also, potential areas of drug abuse need to be outsourced and demarcated.
In the case of existing areas, it is necessary to conduct research as to the actual characteristics, its scope, and the extent of use or abuse being done.
It is necessary that the local community is also actively involved in such measures so that the identification is realistic and quantifiable. The sources of the drugs need to be ascertained. This is indeed a difficult task since, although legal drugs could be sourced from doctors and medical practitioners, FDA sources, and from dispensing units, the sourcing and distribution channels of illegal drugs may not be discernible. Thus, in order to identify drug use, it would become necessary to visit target areas ( schools, colleges, disco joints, clubs, and affiliations, etc.) and other public places where the use of drugs is reported. It would become necessary to launch discreet enquires into the sale and use of such drugs, the volume of trade, and other important aspects relating to drugs intakes. It is also necessary to include law enforcement officials in such inquiries since the contraband drug trade is crime-linked.
The important aspect that needs to be considered is whether the drug trafficking channels could be made more legal, brought within the legal framework, then controlled and monitored for future actions.
What initial steps can be taken by law enforcement officials to stop the tide of illicit drug usage?
The sourcing of such drugs and their financing needs to be closely monitored. Details need to b made available regarding the agencies that control and operate such drug havens. Moreover, “In response to this emerging threat, the public-private working group developed new strategies to curtail Internet drug sales without prescriptions to adolescents by drug sellers who are likely to be abroad and unresponsive to threats of increased penalties.” (New Strategy: A Proposal For Preventing the Illegal Internet Sales of Controlled Substances to Minors, 2006).
Whether previous criminal proceedings have been instituted regarding these drug barons and their activities and what has transpired after such arrests or detentions. It is necessary to know the nexus that keeps the illicit drug trade alive and floating. “Developing effective cases against high-echelon narcotics trafficking criminal conspirators requires the maximum utilization of investigative and prosecutive expertise, resources” (Lessons Learnt From the Organized Crime Narcotics: Executive Summary, 1998).
It is next necessary to institute an Anti-Drug Committee, appoint a group of dedicated law enforcement officers and chalk out a chalk out a comprehensive Plan of Action. The assigned officials need to be provided with clear instructions and mandate tasks, responsibilities and duties to them within achievable frameworks and time guidelines including stop and seizure orders.
The Chairman of the Anti drug Committee shall co-ordinate it’s functioning by interacting with the officials and shall seek progress reports from them, from time to time on a regular basis.
In the execution of their functions and duties, these officials have access to all public and private places, seek interrogations and detain people of suspicious nature for further questioning, without interfering with fundamental rights
The officials of the law enforcement special task force shall also co-ordinate with other government, private and Customs offices, Narcotic Squad, Vice Squad and anti drug Enforcement departments in order to ensure the performance of their objectives and goals.
It could be said that illicit drugs trafficking is a serious situation and needs to be tackled in a disciplined and organized way. While no specific factor or factors could be attributable to it, it is important that its detection and prevention is undertaken on scientific basis that could possibly address the problem on a sustainable long term basis.
A parenting perspective: Are my children at higher risk for alcoholism. (1998). Web.
Alcoholism. (2005). Nation Master.com. Web.
Lessons Learnt From the Organized Crime Narcotics: Executive Summary. (1998). Web.
Machan, Tibor. R., & Thornton, Mark. (1991). The relegalization of drugs. Foundation For Economic Education. 41 (4). Web.
New Strategy: A Proposal For Preventing the Illegal Internet Sales of Controlled Substances to Minors. (2006).
Nixon, Richard M. (1972). 2008 US Elections: Chapter Three The Social Impact Of Drug Dependence and Drug Induced Behaviour. Schaffer Library of Drug policy.
Policy Position: The Federal Role in Reducing International Drug Trafficking. (2008). National Governors Association. Web.
Treating Depression: Alcohols or Drugs. (2008). Web.