Social Problems: Drug and Alcohol Use and Abuse

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Introduction. Wide variations in the use of illicit drugs and excessive drinking practices are found around the world. Substance abuse is particularly prevalent among the young worldwide. The processes of globalization tend to increase the availability of mind-altering substances.. LEGAL AND ILLEGAL DRUG USE .

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Social Problems: Drug and Alcohol Use and Abuse

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1. Social Problems: Drug and Alcohol Use and Abuse

2. Introduction Wide variations in the use of illicit drugs and excessive drinking practices are found around the world. Substance abuse is particularly prevalent among the young worldwide. The processes of globalization tend to increase the availability of mind-altering substances.

3. LEGAL AND ILLEGAL DRUG USE Subject of drugs is clouded with myths: many people assume drugs dangerous when illegal Use of legal drugs such as alcoholic beverages and tobacco is more prevalent than the use of illegal drugs such as marijuana and heroin Reality is alcohol and tobacco kill far more people (i.e. cause 60X more deaths in U.S.) Other “legal” drugs also often misused or abused (i.e. prescription medication)

6. Definitional issues Drug = a physical substance that causes recognizable physical or psychological effects. Addiction = a physiological dependence on a substance, that, in its absence, involves pronounced distress, known as a withdrawal or abstinence syndrome. Addiction may also involve psychological dependence, or a strong emotional need for the substance in the absence of a physical dependence on it. Tolerance = the need for increased amounts of the substance in order to achieve intoxication (or the desired effect) or a marked diminished effect with continued use of the same amount

7. Illegal Drugs: Their Effects Three main categories: stimulants stimulate the central nervous system depressants reduce the activity of the nervous system hallucinogens (or psychoactives) disturb the nervous system and distort the user's perception of reality Marijuana fits into all three categories

8. Effects (cont.) Effects of drugs influenced by: level of dosage purity of drug drug mixing the method of administration the degree of habituation

9. Marijuana Most widely used illegal drug From Indian hemp plant studies suggest it makes people less aggressive many argue that there are serious health hazards short term effects: memory loss and anxiety long term effects: cancer, respiratory diseases and heart problems However, research indicates moderate use is not worse than alcohol or smoking can also be used medically does not directly cause its users to move to “hard” drugs like heroin, but can occur if marijuana users have friends who use hard drugs.

10. Heroin First produced 1898 from morphine Use can lead to physical and psychological dependence and addiction

11. Cocaine and crack from coca plants that are mostly grown in Columbia used in the past as a local anesthetic and a drug for offsetting fatigue and depression. Before being made illegal, it was used as a pleasure drug by poor and powerless Cocaine sometimes seen as symbol of wealth and status

12. “Meth,” “Roofies,” and “Esctasy” Meth (methamphetamine) is an injectable stimulant known as speed Roofies or roach is a depressant related to Valium Ecstasy is the most recently popular drug, esp. among youth PBS Frontline (2006) The Meth Epidemic

13. Other Hallucinogens LSD Synthetic drug Can cause “bad trips” and “flashbacks” PCP (angel dust) An animal sedative May lead to violent behaviour

14. Prevalence of Illegal Drug Use In Canada, 1989-1993: use of meth, heroin, LSD remained stable cocaine and marijuana use down In 2002, nearly 200,000 Canadians dependent on illicit drugs alone. In U.S. drug use widespread Recent research shows 12% of people 12 yrs. and over use illicit drugs However, 1980-1992 use declined, and now stable

15. Problems Related to Drug Use Public’s perception of drugs as deviant and dangerous has led to moral panics Intravenous injection of an illegal drug can spread HIV and AIDS Research shows that people who use illegal drugs generally commit more crime (Thio)

16. Common Misconception: the Gateway Hypothesis The claim that the use of soft drugs inevitably leads to the use of harder drugs. There is little evidence to support this hypothesis, though this assumption shapes criminal law penalties for soft drug offences, especially in the United States But…many have used marijuana but have not graduated to heroin…

17. Enslavement hypothesis The claim that drug users can be so overpowered by drugs as to become permanently addicted after one or two exposures Drug users forced into “life of crime” to support addiction Little evidence to support this hypothesis.

18. General deviance syndrome theory Refutes enslavement hypothesis The high correlation between drugs and crime is because both drug users and criminality are part of a “general deviance syndrome”

19. Socioeconomic Status and Drugs Strong connection between higher status and marijuana college and high school students use it the most Correlation between lower status and heroin but since 1990’s more affluent starting to use it Cocaine use linked to higher status, but crack use to lower SES Meth and roofies = working-class and young people Ecstacy = students and young professionals

20. Stages of Drug Abuse (Gomme) Experimental (occasional use) > Recreational (social use) > Situational (to solve problem i.e. stress) > Intensified (daily use) > Compulsive (becomes dominant activity)

21. Social Profile of Drug Users Those using more drugs are males, who are considerably more likely to use drugs regularly, and extremely more likely to use drugs heavily relatively young, especially those free from parental control and responsibilities likely to have parents who use legal drugs, and friends who first gave them drugs skipped school more often and stayed home less often

22. Theories of Drug Abuse Biological theories : inborn tolerance Psychological theories: low self-esteem Economic deprivation theory: link between drug use and deprivation – abuse drugs to “forget” or to obtain status Cognitive association theory: use to stave off withdrawal pains Multifactor theories: combine social and psychological factors i.e. use to “belong” to a group and because have low self-esteem

23. Legal Drugs: Abuse of Prescription Drugs i.e. oxycontin Started off as middle class problem Over-prescription by doctors Lead to practices of forged prescriptions and double doctoring

24. Double doctoring The practice of those with a drug addiction of visiting two or more doctors in order to obtain prescriptions for drugs that have some street value or have non-medical uses.

25. The Creation of a Social Problem: Labelling and Claims-Making ADHD is a recent label applied to a certain type of childhood social behaviour The clip below is a good example of what Spector and Kitsuse (1977) called “claims making activity” PBS Frontline (2001) Medicating Kids Watch part 3 of this video “The Promoters of ADHD”

26. Moral Entrepreneurs and Claims Making Activity (from lecture 1) Moral entrpreneurs have the power to “label” problems or problem behaviour in society Often members of elites or interest groups Stages in Claims-Making activity: Stage 1: Problem Definition - gaining public recognition Stage 2: Legitimacy - acceptance by official agencies Stage 3: Reemergence of demands -reasserting demands Stage 4: Rejection and institution building - forming new organization to solve the problem

27. Legal Drugs: Tobacco Use Nicotine a natural stimulant found in tobacco 26% of Canadians smoke (2001) Increase among youth and women Many health effects i.e. lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease Also, second-hand smoke effects

28. Smoking Facts (adapted from 22% of Canadians over age 12 were smokers in 2005, down slightly from 2003 (23%). Smoking rates have declined among both men and women and across all age groups - except among seniors, where rates appear to be stable. The greatest decline in smoking rates between 2000/01 and 2005 were among youth aged 12 to 17. Between 2003 and 2005, smoking rates declined in nine provinces and territories. The most dramatic decline was in Nunavut, where the smoking rate among the population aged 12 and older dropped from 65% to 53%. In the Yukon, the smoking rate rose over this two-year period. Smoking rates in 2005 were higher among lower-income earners (30.4%) than among middle- and high-income earners (22.8%).

29. Global Smoking Rates Internationally, Canada has relatively low smoking rates In 2004, Canada's adult smoking rate was 15%, while France and Germany had rates of 23% and 24%. Japan had one of the highest smoking rates among OECD nations (29.4%); the United States and Australia had rates slightly higher than those of Canada (17%).

30. Legal Drugs: Alcohol Main problems associated with alcohol in North America are alcoholism and binge drinking Is a central nervous system depressant About 80% of Canadians over 14 reported drinking alcohol in 2004

31. Alcohol Statistics (Statistics Canada) Slightly more males than females drink alcohol 44% drink regularly (weekly) 25% drink heavily at least once a month 25% of all males and 9% of all females are “high risk” drinkers in Canada

32. Alcohol and Depression In 2002, more than 600,000 Canadians were dependent on alcohol Depression was common among people who were alcohol- or drug-dependent. Heavy drinking tended to lead to depression, but at the same time, depression led to heavy drinking. (

33. Alcoholism and Binge Drinking Alcoholism is main problem associated with alcohol Alcoholism Stages (Thio): 1. Pre-alcoholic stage prospective alcoholics begin as social drinkers and experience relief from tensions 2. Forewarning stage blackouts and excessive drinking 3. Crucial stage Loss of control over drinking 4. Chronic stage Physical addiction Binge drinking (periodic heavy drinking) a problem at colleges and universities

34. Theories of Alcoholism Biological: Genetic vulnerability Some evidence from twin studies Psychological theories i.e. the alcoholic personality (antisocial, manipulative, attention-seeking, depressed) Social psychological theories: There is a “fit” between vulnerable personality traits (i.e. alcoholic personality) and certain drinking group values and activities Sociological (Robert Bates): production of acute inner tensions in people by their culture a culturally induced attitude toward drinking as a means of relieving the tensions failure of the culture to provide nonalcoholic means for resolving the tensions

35. Important Sociological Theories of Substance Abuse Structural Functionalist: Society and culture influence individuals to abuse drugs and alcohol Eg. Alcohol: media and advertising tend to “normalize” drinking in our society ie beer ads sell images, fantasies and life styles rather than beer itself Studies show beer advertising linked to positive feelings about beer and drinking Example: Molson’s I Am Canadian

36. Structural Functionalist: Social Disorganization Theory Rapid social change causes disorganization in society Breakdown of norms and values result Traditional sanctions become ineffective How does this affect youth?

37. Structural Functionalism: Merton’s Anomie Theory The relationship between cultural goals and legitimate opportunities become incongruent Individuals adapt to the structurally produced strain (anomie) in alternative ways i.e. through drug dealing or substance abuse

38. Merton’s Theory of Anomie: Modes of Adaptation

39. Modes (cont.) Conformity Most common adaptation Innovation When fierce competition for society's valued goals by adequate means – drug dealing Ritualism Life has no purpose – just doing what supposed to be done Retreatism Apathy – escapist activities – alcohol or drugs Rebellion Start a new “system”; e.g. drug subculture

40. Conflict Theory Alcohol and drug abuse varies by SES i.e. wealthy more likely to use alcohol but the poor more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs Powerful groups in society define what is legal or illegal – can label and criminalize substances Alcohol and tobacco companies controlled by the powerful Consequently, in Can. society, alcohol and tobacco are legal but other substances are not. See Box 3.3 in text on the social construction of opium and Chinese immigrants

41. Symbolic Interactionism Focus on the meanings and values associated with labels applied to abusers Text gives example of “alcoholic” vs. “social drinker”

42. War on Drugs This is the U.S. position Drugs are a threat to safety and well-being of society Every effort must be made to control and eliminate use and sale of illegal drugs

43. Legalizing Drugs Netherlands has a national drug policy Focus is on prevention and reduction of harm rather than law enforcement and prosecution. When drugs are legal can control quality and use.

44. For Debate…. Which alternative is better? “War on Drugs” vs. Legalizing Drugs Form groups of 3-4 people and choose one of the above positions Support your position with 2-3 point and choose a spokeperson to report your decision to the rest of the class.

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