United States is in the middle of a war on drugs, and has been for several decades. Yet, many believe that we are losing this war, often because of the impractical approach legislation has taken in response to curb growing rates of addiction in the United States; however, drug addiction continues to be a major social problem in the United States. Research shows that there is a direct correlation between increased incidences of domestic violence and use of drugs. This makes it incredibly imperative for local advocacy groups and law enforcement to find viable solutions to the growing drug problem surrounding the use of illegal substances in The United States.
The United States is in the middle of a war on drugs, and has been for several decades. Yet, many believe that we are losing this war, often because of the impractical approach legislation has taken in response to curb growing rates of addiction in the United States. As methamphetamine continues to pose a major problem, many are questioning the harsh legal restrictions placed on drug addicts. One of the policies adopted has been harsher punishments for non-violent drug users. Yet, are these harsh punishments effective at curbing the levels of addiction in this country? It is the underlying hypothesis of this research that from an addict perspective, legal ramifications are only intensifying the conflict, and will never serve to curb the growing rates of addiction in this country.
Drug addiction continues to be a major social problem in the United States. Methamphetamine, a powerful stimulant, is notoriously becoming a growing problem within the drug abuse that this country is witnessing (Sussman and Ames, 2001). Methamphetamine works through stimulating brain structures to provide an exaggerated rush of euphoria. According to the PBS Frontline report, "Dopamine is the brain's primary pleasure chemical" and "if you take a hit on a pipe or an injection of methamphetamine, you get an increase from zero to about 1,250 units. This produces an extreme peak of euphoria that people describe as something like they have never experienced" (PBS, 2011). Yet, the drug actually works by destroying the centers in the brain which create dopamine, therefore leaving addicts less susceptible to feeling natural pleasure once they come off of their high. The problem with the drug originally began as a fad inside the context of motorcycle gangs in the 1070s in California (PBS, 2011). The drug invasion quickly spread further into the interior of the United States, and is now a major problem in many mid-western states. Even worse, Mexican drug cartels have tapped into the increasing trend and have begun flooding the American marketplace with methamphetamine originated from Mexican labs. The PBS Frontline report illustrated this growing phenomenon by exploring how in the early 1990s, over 170 tons of ephedrine were purchased by Mexican drug cartels from Indian labs (PBS, 2011). This growing problem can be viewed under the lens of behavioral theory, where reinforcement indicates the persistence of particular behaviors. Pavlov's infamous experiment with dog's being stimulated through associations with food. Essentially, under this assumption, behavior is a result of a reaction to particular stimuli (Sussman and Ames 2001, p. 15). In the case of a methamphetamine addiction, the drug provided an immediate positive reinforcement, and so the addict continues to show behavior that facilitates drug use.
Unfortunately, it is not always just the addicts who are harmed in this situation. Methamphetamine use has also been linked to increased incidences of other crimes committed while the suspects were high. In fact, the research shows that there is a direct correlation between increased incidences of domestic violence and use of methamphetamine. Fussell et al. (2009) utilized a mixed methods study that did illustrate how use of the drug could lead to higher rates of domestic violence among other crimes. This makes it incredibly imperative for local advocacy groups and law enforcement to find viable solutions to the growing drug problem surrounding methamphetamine use in this country. Often times, the drug will intensify psychological problems that were hidden just beneath the surface, and thus "the drug continues to be used despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or worsened by the drug" (Sussman and Ames, 2001, p. 13). Thus, there is a dire need to find solutions combating the problem of addiction as well as the control of the drug's creation.
In response to the growing methamphetamine problem in this country, law makers have been quick and fierce to establish very strict regulations and harsh punishments for addicts and traffickers. Most legislation has only focused on the controlling and regulation the availability of essential ingredients, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine (PBS, 2011). Many pharmaceutical companies, whose revenue depends on the retail sale of such medications, "felt the DEA was overreacting and unfairly punishing a legitimate business" (PBS, 2011). This has made the process of controlling its creation incredibly slow and inefficient, yet at the same time legislation is not turning to invoke other strategies that would fight the problem of addiction from the ground up. The same Fussell et al. (2009) study also examined how inefficient many communal campaigns where in curbing rates of methamphetamine usage.
Thus, as a response to growing addiction rates, federal and state governments have begun a massive crackdown to target drug traffickers, and even users. There is, for example, the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 (Office of National Drug Control Policy, 2006). Such legislation works on controlling the creation and trafficking of the drug, but also creates harsh legal penalties for drug users to have to deal with, despite their crimes being ones of addiction and thus non-violent or predatory. In many instances, there is criticism in regards to how governments are handling the real victims of the drug trade -- the addicts. The question remains on whether or not an increased penalty for drug users proves as a successful method for actually combating use of the drug. One report even goes as far as to state that "the bulk of federal efforts to control illegal drugs is comprised of costly -- and largely unsuccessful -- programs to reduce the availability of drugs by attempting to halt their production abroad, interdict them at the border, and incarcerate as many (mostly nonviolent) drug law violators as possible" (Piper, 2008, p. 7). Yet, reports show that this is not really successfully combating the problem. In fact, the same report states that "meanwhile, the harms associated with drug abuse -- addiction, overdose and the spread of HIV / AIDS and hepatitis -- continue to mount, while entire communities are devastated by astronomical incarceration rates" (Piper, 2008, p. 7). When a viable solution is crucial to restoring the health of the nation, it is important for contemporary research to evaluate the success rates of such aggressive and penal-based programs.
To approach this study, a quantitative research methodology proves most appropriate. This would focus on finding statistical evidence to find the success rate of such strict legal punishments, which is a crucial element of quantitative analysis (ORAU, 2010). The methodology of this current empirical examination would utilize regression analysis examining the relationship between increased legal punishments for meth drug abuse to rates of drug use within local cities and counties. The research can access needed data through government published reports of increased legal ramifications over time as compared to the rates of actual addiction being reported within the country. The structure of this research categorizes the social phenomenon into measurable variables. The research would use quantitative variables, which is the case when "data in the form of numbers" (Trochkim, 2004, p. 8). A more qualitative design might be compromised because of the extreme bias within such a sensitive subject. In this context, the independent variable in this case would be the tough anti-drug laws and legislation and the dependent variable would be the rates of drug abuse in local and national contexts. This would be accomplished using federal and individual state reports furnished by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (2006).
War on Drugs -- Success Rate of Legal Restrictions and Punishments:
Quantitative Research Question: Determine the success rate of legal restrictions and punishments on substance abuse in the United States in the past five (5) years through a sampling of 100 people.
The independent variable is the success rate of legal restrictions and punishments and the dependent variable is the substance abuse.
Qualitative Research Question: Why are the legal restrictions and punishments on substance abuse in the United States successful and how will it affect it?
For the number of people to put the sampling into effect, I choose 100. The reasoning for 100 people for the sample is due in part to the time frame of five years. The 100 people would be split into 20 per year. Each one being surveyed every 2-3 weeks to record progress cumulatively from each sample so one could see the results of the research…