“Drug abuse is public enemy, number one in the United States…” these are the famous words that formulated the concept of the American government ‘war on drugs’ (Clarence and Desmond 78). From this statement, it would seem that much is done about the drug abuse situation in the US; and though legislations as well as other issues have been developed to curb drug use the number of drug addicts is currently on the rise. Factors such as additional drugs being introduced into the market to the increase in lifestyle influences have been major issues that were not presented before. Statistically speaking the number of drug users have gone up, most of whom are teenage users who are more exposed to the ‘urban life’, which is highly influenced by substance abuse and high octane parties. From the information above there is more reason to fight drugs; however, in order to that point it is necessary to understand how this drugs affect the individuals who abuse them as well as the community.
Drug abuse is defined as the usage of recreational and medical substances in amounts or methods that can be referred to as harmful to oneself or to others directly or indirectly (Edelfield and Moosa, 12). Drug abuse is known to affect an individual’s health through addition as well as side effects physical or mental, the society, and the government through the criminal justice system. In the United States, the current state of drug use that may turn to abuse is at a complicated stage considering that some states have currently legalized the use of Marijuana. Statistically before any legalization of drugs hit the U.S, it was estimated that up to 117 individuals were active users of marijuana most of whom abused the drug (Edman, 35). Additionally, of this number presented 14.6 million individuals were users of methamphetamine this stating and providing facts about the character of marijuana as an introductory substance to drug use (36). Sussman, and Susan (46) states that the increased support of the legalization of marijuana will have an effect on increased drug abuse on harder drugs. This may be true considering that in America the number of individuals who consumed and are consuming heroin has been on the increase since 2007 reaching an estimated 700,000 in 2014 (Wilson and Cheryl, 56) . From the above it is evident that though it was believed that drug use was America’s biggest enemy in the 1980s the situation is about to be worse and it is necessary to highlight the effects of drug use.
Abused Drugs in the US and Globally
According to Roleff, (76), the most abused drug in the United States is Alcohol. The legal drinking age in America is 21 years old, however, a number of individuals bellow this age have been known to indulge in binge drinking a factor that is risky and highly addictive. Marijuana is the second highest abused drug in the market followed by Methamphetamine that is supported by its price in the market. Crack cocaine is also highly abused in the United States; however due to increased sensitization most recreational users avoid being trapped by its addiction and its used on occasion.
Consequences of Drug Abuse
As earlier stated drug abuse affects have three major consequential areas namely the person’s health as he or she is abusing the drug, the society as well as and the government through the criminal justice system. Below is an explanation of the issues presented
Lowinson (112) states that drug abuse has the capability to adversely affect the human body in more ways than one. Brain chemistry, fertility, body organ function, the nerves, blood as well as well as the hormonal systems are all at risk from the excessive use of drugs (113). The chemistry or biology drug use is that all of the substances used are engineered naturally or in a lab to affect the release of large amounts of dopamine in the human synapses affecting reward pathways giving an individual what is known as the ‘feel good’ sensation that is regarded as a ‘high’. Drugs such as Heroin as well as marijuana have the capability fool the brain receptors mimicking neurotransmitters sending abnormal messages to the brain giving false messages thus giving a sensation contrary to what the brain should interpreter (Edelfield and Tracey, 77). Other drugs such as cocaine and amphetamine causes the brain to release large amounts of neurotransmitters making them harder drugs than the above. With prolonged use, the brain would fail to recycle this chemicals causing brain damage. The process affects nerves that go to all parts of the body this is the reason people deprived of drugs experience hot flashes as well as constant shivering. The blood is also affected considering it is the primary transport agent sending the drugs through the body causing weakness due to the chemicals introduced into the system. It is due to this reason that addicts look like they have a malnutrition issue yet they are feed.
Edman (37) states that the biggest individual consequence to any drug abuse is addiction a factor that amplifies all other consequences. As explained drugs have been engineered to affect the reward pathways a factor that leads to addiction, which is the constant requirement for more neurotransmitters leading to dependencies that has dire consequences. For instance, addiction causes physical dependencies that may ruin an individual’s relationship at work; school or family. Other than having physical challenges addiction impairs judgment considering the number of accidents or incidents that have been related to a deprivation of controlled substances. For instance in 2013 the number of drug overdose cases in the US was estimated to be approximately 223,000 with 76% indicating a lack of awareness considering the were highly deprived and placed into their bodies more substances than they could handle. Additionally other showed addicts sharing needles and other instruments that increased their susceptibility to deaseases such as HIV and aids.
The health of an individuals does not only consist of the body but also the mind and drug abuse affects not only judgment but due to causing substantial brain damage that causes harm. Clarence and Desmond (98) elaborate that with continuous substance abuse significant and in some case permanent psychological damage with younger members of the society being more a risk developing mental issues such as depression as well as anxiety. Other psychological issues that include; behavioral change including withdrawal from family, aggrieved attitude to words other, violent and over aggression, increased reckless sexual behavior, as well as breaking friendship bonds.
In 2014, a report by the Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR), which is a part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), showed that 20% of state prisoners as well as 21% of federal inmates accepted that they had engaged in criminal activity to sustain their drug use. Additionally, Edelfield and Tracey, (132) states that there is a considerable connection between violence and drug usage. Nonetheless, the outstanding issue factor that a significant amount of criminal activity is currently connected to drug addiction, which is a consequence.
Drug abuse has been an issue that has been discussed highly in the US and with the current marijuana legalization issue in the different states the issue of drug addiction is expected to get much worse. The effects of drug abuse is detected in three major areas namely an individual’s physical health, the community as well as the legal justice system. Physically all body organs can be affected by drug abuse and addiction makes it worse as it affects the mental part of the human anatomy. Other than, this addicts have contracted more diseases through poor instrument cleaning as well as increased overdoses. The society is likewise affected as drug abusers tend to be dissociative with other and tend to be violent. Additionally there has been an association of drug abuse and criminal act in the US. From this paper, it is clear that the consequences go beyond personal matters making it a complicated issue in the US now that Marijuana is being legalized in a number states.
Clarence, L. and Desmond, D. Pipe Dream Blues: Racism and the War on Drugs. Boston, MA: South End Press, 1999. Print.
Edelfield, Bruce, and Tracey J. Moosa. Drug Abuse. New York: Rosen Pub, 2012. Print.
Edman, J. 2013. The ideological drug problem. Drugs and Alcohol Today, Vol. 13 Iss: 1, pp.9 – 19
Lowinson, Joyce H. Substance Abuse: A Comprehensive Textbook. Philadelphia, Penns: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2005. Print.
Roleff, Tamara L. Drug Abuse: Opposing Viewpoints. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press, 2014. Print.
Sussman, Steve, and Susan L. Ames. Drug abuse: Concepts, prevention, and cessation. Cambridge University Press, 2014.
Wilson, Richard W, and Cheryl A. Kolander. Drug Abuse Prevention: A School and Community Partnership. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2011. Print.