Using Sociology and Psychology to Understand Drug Abuse and Crime

In highly industrialized countries where citizens have the opportunity to make something out of their lives it is a mystery why there are so many people who abuse illegal drugs. This is important to understand because the abuse of illegal drugs would lead into a downward spiral of addiction and crime. There is still much to learn about this phenomenon but by using principles found in sociology and psychology it has been found out that there is a correlation between the sociology, psychology, drug abuse and criminal behavior. Background

It does not require a rocket scientist to understand the fact that the social environment is a major factor in influencing the decision making process of every human being. Everything that occurs within the social realm can increase or decrease the likelihood of a person to either behave in accordance to law or to commit crime. There is also enough evidence to show that those who abuse illegal drugs would never have considered taking in illegal substances without the help of friends and others who taught that person how to ingest, sniff, and inject the said drugs.

Aside from the social network of friends and acquaintances that assisted the individual to try drugs it can also be argued that there is another aspect of the social environment that encourages people to take drugs. This is none other than the family, especially the interaction between parents and children. Still it is not yet clear why society in general and the family in particular can influence an individual to take drugs when each person has the free will to choose between right and wrong.

Thus aside from looking at the social environment there is also a need to look at the psychological aspect of drug abuse and crime. Sociology and Psychology When one refers to sociology it can mean a host of things but it can also be simplified by saying that it is the study of human interactions. Man does not exist in a vacuum meaning that in this world a person is always in contact with another human being. In the case of drugs and criminality the social environment is said to play a major role. And this is primarily because an individual could not access illegal drugs as if these things grow on trees.

The fact that it is illegal to use the said substances adds to the difficulty of acquiring it. Therefore, a potential drugs user and a drug addict have one thing in common. They need to know someone who has access to drugs so that they can purchase and acquire it for their consumption. But the interaction between the social environment and the drug user goes far beyond the business aspect of drug use. There are numerous studies that will support the idea that current drugs users were led into a life of drug dependency by their friends and acquaintances.

This social interaction may have occurred in schools, offices, in their community and various places where two or more people can openly discuss drug use. Then one thing led to another until the person is already hooked on drugs. Aside from friends and acquaintances there are also numerous studies that support the idea that problems in homes, school and work are contributing factors that led many to experiment with drugs. There are those who could not cope with pressures in school and that the only way to get relief from anxiety and depression is to take drugs.

There are also those who could not find peace at home especially when their parents are going through divorce or having marital problems. At this point the teenagers in the house who had access to money can be tempted to finally try that “wonderful” substance promising euphoria and a temporary respite from problems. Still it is not clear why there are many who tried drugs and yet able to break free from its deadly clutches, while there are first time users who steadily develop the addiction to illegal substances (Anker, 2008).

There are those who explain this occurrence through the use of psychology. Experts agree that each person reacts to drugs in different ways and thus there are those who are more prone to drug addiction than others (Anker, 2008). On the other hand those who are already addicted to banned substances will continue to desire for illicit drugs because it enable them to “get high” a feeling of intense euphoria that could not be achieved through any other means (Anker, 2008). This can be explained by psychology and how chemicals found in drugs affect brain functions.

Crime and Drugs The claim that there is a correlation between the abuse of drugs and crime is supported by the U. S. Department of Justice. In their official website one can find statistics that include the following: • In 2004 17% of state prisoners and 18% of federal inmates admitted that they committed crime in order to get money to finance their drug addiction. • In 2002 about a quarter of convicted property and drug offenders admitted to committing crime to get money for drugs (U. S. Department of Justice, 2008).

Aside from committing crimes to obtain money to finance the drug habit there are other criminal activities related to drug use. Crimes are also committed in the manufacture and distribution of drugs. Moreover, those who are drug users can also be involved in crimes related to sexual assault and murder as a result of the excessive use of drugs (Office of National Drug Control Policy, 2008). Thus, drug use does not only affect the psychological state of the person but it also has a direct correlation to the social environment.

This paper deals with complex issues. For instance drug abuse is a very complex issue that requires more space than what is allowed for this study. But even with the limited space allowed it has been made clear that there is indeed a correlation between sociology and psychology when it comes to drug abuse and crime. In order to simplify the discussion the term sociology was broken down into the social environment and the human interactions that are readily observable in the community or places where people interact to live, work, and play.

The term psychology on the other hand was broken down into simpler components such as human behaviour and mental processes. It was pointed out earlier that the social environment can interact with the drug dependent in different ways. First of all the social environment can create stressors that would force the individual to seek out drugs that can in turn offer a respite from psychological problems that are the result of family problems and pressures from work or school.

The social environment also interacts with the individual in terms of providing social contacts enabling him or her to try out drugs and to create a system that will ensure a steady supply of the same in the future. The social environment can also interact in another manner and this is when the individual will be forced to commit crimes against another person such as theft and murder so that they can sustain their drug habit.

The psychological aspect of drug abuse can be used to explain why there are those who can try drugs and yet not get caught in the deadly trap of drug addiction. On the other hand there are first time users who will experiment with drugs and then never be able to break the habit. The chemicals found in drugs will interact with the chemicals found in the brain so that the person using the banned substance will experience a “high” unlike any other. This will turn occasional users into drug addicts.

When these factors are mixed together this will create a deadly mix where the drug user could no longer live without regularly ingesting or injecting their drug of choice. These drugs do not grow on trees and since these are illegal substances the same could not be acquired without paying for a substantial amount. If the drug addict could no longer afford the habit he will be forced into a life of crime. He will steal or kill to get the next dose.

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