Drug abuse and Violence. These two vices have existed and plagued humanity for so long that the exact point of their occurrence cannot be identified. To most people, drug abuse and violence exist together, while others believe that they are both very independent issues that have little or no relationship. But I believe that drug abuse and violence were originally independent, but as the times went on, they became entwined with each other. In the sense that, they both give to give rise to one another simultaneously.
Before this relationship can be understood, we first have to understand the concept of drug abuse and violence respectively.
Many of us are familiar with the term drug abuse. We have all experienced it first hand from either friends and relatives who fell victim to it or heard about it through secondary sources such as the news. America as a country has been fighting drug abuse for over a century. Drugs first surfaced in the United states in the 1800s with the use of opium during and after the civil war.
Other drugs such as cocaine followed in the 1880s and the actual abuse of these drugs during the end of the 19th century reached epidemic proportions.
Many presidents tried to fight this epidemic. One of such people was President Richard Nixon who on 18th of June, 1971, declared drugs as Public enemy number one and started the War on drugs. Another example is President George Bush who extensive research with neuroscientist also helped fight drugs.
His research inspired Bill Moyes, a series narrator to coin the term the Hijacked Brain. The Hijacked Brain is the title of the second part of a series called Moues on addiction: close to home which aired on March 29 1998. This metaphorical title conveys how the brain is forcefully held hostage to drugs of abuse (Campbell 22).
So why is it that after all these years of effort to help stop drug abuse, nothing seems to have really change. Well, I for one believe that drug abuse will not go away until it stops being treated as an issue of individuals who made poor choices and fell prey to it. Instead it should be treated as disease of both the individuals mind and the society. To further explain what I mean that drug abuse does not really end up being just choice but also a disease, I look to an excerpt by the Department of Health titled Understanding Drug Use and Addiction.
The initial decision to take drugs is often voluntary to most people. However, over time, there are changes that occur in the brain and these changes challenge the addicted individuals self-control and hampers their ability to resist intense impulse to take drugs (Department of Health 13).
To further support the excerpt above, I bring the book Neurology of addiction by Dr. Nora Volkow, an American psychiatrist and current Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In her book she writes We have learned how some drugs and alcohol can disrupt volitional mechanisms by hijacking the brain mechanisms involved in seeking natural reinforcement and weakening the brain mechanism of these processes (Campbell 22). These two statements have one thing in common, that is, they both agree that drug abuse is a disease of the will which takes away a persons self-control. Generally, they both came to the conclusion that drug abuse is a disease of addiction. Therefore, to solve this problem, we have to stop looking at drug abuse as a situation caused by poor choices and a weak will. Instead we should look at it as an infectious disease. Now the reason I used the word Infectious is because drug abuse actually spreads. How you may ask. let us take for example, a kid who lives in a community plagued by drug users and this kid belongs to a circle of friends where everybody takes drugs. What do you think will happen to this child? He will obviously eventually engage in drugs. This is why I say drug abuse is an infectious disease. Now make a comparison between drug abuse and AIDS. They are both deadly infectious disease but they also have one more thing in common. And that is, both AIDS and drug abuse give birth new to new diseases. When a person had AIDs, they immune system is attacked, weakened and even destroyed letting other diseases, bacteria and viruses to come in. This is actually the same case with drug abuse. When a person becomes addicted to drugs, their mental strength and self-control/regulation becomes greatly weakened. Self-discipline fades away, and the mind is clouded leaving behind a mentally impaired drug user who will be likely to perform actions that normally will not happen. This leads me back to my thesis statement that drug abuse and violence go hand in hand.
Benjamin B. Roberts in his book Sex and Drugs before Rock n Roll describes a cycle of how alcohol and tobacco drug abuse can lead to drastic circumstances. He writes; the counter-remonstrant minister, Daniel Souterius of Haarlem, spelled out the evil chain of events that would extend from the excessive use of alcohol followed by smoking tobacco. Based on the biblical story of lot, Souterius illustrated how a pious man became weakened by alcohol and turned to a sinner. According to Souterius, getting drunk was like opening pandoras box, it led to blasphemy, swearing, defying sabbath, BREAKING LAWS, MURDERS, THEFT (Roberts178). He uses this to explain and bring the idea forward that drug abuse begets violence. I bring forth an example, consider a social drinker becomes intoxicated, gets behind a wheel and quickly turns a pleasurable activity into a tragedy that affects himself, a fellow driver or a pedestrian. Such happenings have become frequent in the United states. According to the center for Disease control and prevention, 29 people die everyday due to a more vehicle crash involved with an alcohol impaired driver. That is 1 death every 50 minutes. They also added that drugs other than alcohol both legal and illegal contribute to 16% of all motor vehicle crashes. This is actually a form of negligent violence.
Another way to show the concurrent relationship between drugs and violence can be seen when one observes drug cartels. A drug cartels main objective is to make money through the illegal trafficking of hard drugs. While doing so, they more often than not engage in violence. Violence towards the police, towards other drug cartels, and towards individual involved and not involved in the drug trade both the abusers and the innocent ones. Lets consider the recent happening which occurred on the 5th November, 2019 in La Mora, Mexico a small settlement for American Mormons. Three American woman and six children were killed in an incident involving a drug cartel. This is just a classic but sad example of how drugs beget violence.
But not only does drug beget violence, violence itself begets drugs too. When people most especially children are exposed to violence on a daily basis either on the street or in their homes, or people go through a hard life ordeal, they often turn to drugs. They do this because they believe that the drugs will help them to escape from the harsh reality and that it will help them relax. To some extent this is true. However, they seem to forget that or be ignorant towards the fact that drugs not only make you relax but they also affect your mind by creating blank spots and destroying creativity. These children or people eventually grow up and experience great emotional plunges. During these plunges, it is very plausible to say that the risk of them resorting to violence to either vent their anger, or solve issues is very high. This kind of situation just creates an endless cycle from violence to drug abuse and back to violence.