Social Issue Alcohol Drugs Consider A Social Essay

Length: 3 pages Sources: 3 Subject: Sports - Drugs Type: Essay Paper: #83850354 Related Topics: Social Stigma, Social Control Theory, Morphine, Crack Cocaine
Excerpt from Essay :

Social issue alcohol drugs consider a social issue interested. It human freedom, sexuality, deviance, crime, social mobility, poverty, education, aging, similar issues. Select a specific social issue investigate assignment.

Social issue: Drug abuse

The social problem of drug addiction is a long-standing one, yet the causes of addiction and the best way to treat addiction still remain difficult questions to answer. One contentious issue pertains to whether addiction is a 'crime' or an 'illness,' although an increasingly large body of medical research indicates long-term abuse fundamentally rewires addicts' brains and changes their perceptions of reward and punishment. Drugs stimulate dopamine receptors. Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that generates a sense of positive well-being: "Just as we turn down the volume on a radio that is too loud, the brain adjusts to the overwhelming surges in dopamine (and other neurotransmitters) by producing less dopamine or by reducing the number of receptors that can receive signals" and the user requires more and more of the drug simply to feel 'normal' (Drugs and the brain, 2012, NIDA).

Even the question of what constitutes a drug has varied greatly over the ages. In the 19th century, substances such as morphine and cocaine, which are considered 'hard drugs' today with no redeeming medical value, were widely accepted in the


"During a brief period following 1884, the medical profession dubbed cocaine 'a miracle of modern science'" and laudanum was an accepted 'ladies' drug, revered for its palliative effects for very minor complaints (Goode 2006: 416). By 1900, once the addictive potential of these classes of drugs were finally recognized, they began to be regulated and regarded as more socially marginal.

Views of drug abuse changed quickly, so quickly that by 1937 the sociologist Bingham Dai published a work entitled Opium Addiction in Chicago, intended to examine the specific pathology of the practice. Dai viewed the addiction as the result of social disorganization -- otherwise psychologically normal individuals were victims of living in areas where "family disorganization, crime, vice, alcoholism, insanity and suicide" was common (Goode 2006: 416). This idea of drug addiction as unwilled behavior became even more popular in the 1960s, when there was greater knowledge of how the body up builds tolerance to the drug, thus requiring the user to take more of the drug to deal with the withdrawal symptoms: "If addiction is a direct consequence of the conjunction of a biophysical mechanism (withdrawal distress) and a cognitive process (recognizing that a dose of an opiate relieves withdrawal), then the addict cannot be held responsible for his or her condition" (Goode 2006: 417).

A medical view of addiction became more popular in Great Britain, where addicts were registered with the authorities but infrequently jailed solely for using drugs. Although drugs were not legal, the emphasis was upon treating the addict through medically-supervised withdrawal rather than punishing him or her as in the United States. However, such biologically-oriented views focusing on the unpleasantness of withdrawal fail to explain why people begin using in the first place.

Social control theories suggest that a lack of meaningful ties to the community leads to a lack of investment in upholding the mores of society, and thus the likelihood of using recreational drugs increases. In contrast to theories of social control, "social learning theory emphatically disagrees with the control theories, arguing that people…

Sources Used in Documents:


Cratty, Carol. (2011). New rules slashing crack cocaine sentences go into effect. CNN.

Retrieved at:

Drugs and the brain. (2012). National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Retrieved at:

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