During the 1970s through the 1990s drugs were everywhere you turned your head, recreational drug use was at an all time high. It made its way through the higher social classes of the suburbs all the way to the lowest social class areas in the inner cities across America. People who abused street drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, crack, heroin, LSD, and hallucinogenic mushrooms were termed as “hippies”. The more the hippies culture grew and flourished, the more challenging it became to stop the inevitable, drug addiction.
Drug addiction reached such a concerning point by the 1980’s that the government implemented zero tolerance for drug policies and other anti drug programs.
These policies are what ignited outlandish mandatory jail times for drug users and dealers who were arrested for drug possession. Quickly over flooding the jails and prison systems while also destroying millions of lives over a short period of time. This is relevant to our society today because even though there are many programs put in place to help those addicted to drugs, drug addiction is still single handedly the most socially destructive problem in this country.
It is still just as hard to contain as it was 30 years ago which sets this epidemic up for failure. Throughout this following essay, you will read about three of the destructive social effects of drug addiction such as crime rates, health care and child neglect.
For many years, the connection between drug addiction and crime rates did not present much apparent correlations but was still believed to be at least a factor of crime rates in certain areas.
An academic social experiment by Paul Cushman Jr, M.D titled “Relationships Between Narcotics Addiction and Crime” where he explores what types of crimes, if any, are intensified when the suspect is a drug addict gives revealing findings about crime rate in addicts. He acknowledges that although the relationship between the two are not as disruptive as other eras of the history, addicts do stray towards certain crimes. One of his findings state that, “arrests with charges of money crimes, violence and prostitution became very frequent. Minor offences and misconduct also rose significantly,…”
This finding is relevant to the destruction of this society because these crimes that are committed by those who abuse drugs will always act as a domino effect and affect more than that person. Money crimes such as robbery is a common crime by addicts, and by them performing these crimes they obtain their financial needs to continue with their addiction. This cycle in turn can not end, which will lead to other petty crimes by the addicts due to the impaired decision making these addicts experience. I, myself, being from the inner city of Boston, I have witnesses long time drug addicts face charges of many different kinds and almost always they partake in these crimes because the drug of choice essentially made them do it. Also, that they needed the funds to go on with their addictions which leaves the victims of these crimes violated and jails overflowing with uncontrollable addicts who will soon end up on the streets re-offending.
Another social effect of drug addiction is the effect it has on our health care. The 2016 National Study on Drug Use and Health reported that 1 out of 10 people suffer with substance abuse to a certain extent, that includes prescription drugs. Drug addiction doesn’t discriminate against occupations, socioeconomic statuses, or ethnicities. An academic journal by Richard Frank, Harvard Medical School, presents telling evidence of deaths involving Heroin, a common drug of choice for addicts. According to the journals findings, “from 2012 through 2014, the number of reported deaths involving fentanyl more than doubled, from 2628 to 5544. We estimate that 41% of the roughly 7100 heroin-related deaths during this period involved fentanyl.”
This observation puts Heroin as well as Fentanyl at the center of death rates in drug addict. When addict to drugs, it becomes very difficult to escape the need for the drug and it becomes harder to receive treatments for withdrawals that addicts feel. Methadone, a treatment used to temporarily alleviate craving for narcotics has been said to have been used more than 1,000 times a day which is telling about the costs of medical supplies. Costs that will continue to be a problem in the medical community as this drug epidemic proceeds to worsen. Personally seeing how drugs have manipulated the minds of addicts to continue on the same path of destruction, I see how the health system may suffer and struggle to find effective programs to get more addicts to recover. However, with all the health systems attempts and aspirations, someone addicted to drugs will be addicted until they want to. This does, in fact, prolong the crisis in hospitals and cost of treatments every time a addict comes in on the brink of death.
Lastly, the biggest group affected by most drug abuse cases, other than the victims, are children, whether immediate children of the case or children who witness the environment as outsiders. An analysis article by Kiran Pienaar, faculty of Health Sciences Curtin University, examines personal accounts of alcohol and drug ‘addictions’ from first hand sources. As stated by Josie, a drug user who associates her family violence and trauma as a young child to her current drug use, she says, “ I was on the street at 13 … We had family violence… So [a government agency] took me out of home… put me with a group home for girls. That was the reason why I went on the street … There was something [about taking drugs] that made you feel better … It was like blocking my home experience.” This quote from a actual victim of child abuse and neglect who has turned into a drug addicted is a captivating representation of what children are unconsciously molded to become by their parents and environment.
Socially she felt lost, as if she didn’t have anyone to be there for her, which can really take a toll on young children as they try to search for what makes them happy; some end up finding comfort in substances. Josie is no different than the millions of kids in this world who are stuck in a vacious cycle of neglet at home and who end up homeless or pass arounds in the foster systems. These children find stabilty on the street more than anywhere else, which is where the drugs are waiting to add destruction to their lives. They start to show signs of retreatism, abandoning approved goals and approved means, from their realities of their everyday life. As I child, I imagine the things that I’ve seen and wonder how I’ve gotten so far and turned out so well. Then I realize that unlike Josie I had a family who care, never neglected or abuse me and never tried to shield me from real life but simply prepared me for it.