Drug abuse is one of the major problems of the contemporary world

This abuse affects our everyday life from several directions. It is not only a health problem but financial, ethical, and, of course, the socio-economical issue as well. There is no country that is free from this social curse. Despite other important negative impacts of drug abuse, the major effects of this problem are health injury, illnesses, and even death that are caused by drug abuse in most cases. Many researches prove that drug abuse has a direct correlation with several health injuries; and numerous premature deaths take place every year due to this chronic problem.

There are thousand kinds of available drugs, which have different names, possess various affects and feelings after intake, and vary by the process of taking them. The frequent abuse of different substances, including alcohol and drugs, leads to dependence, which in turn ends up in health injury and results in death. Moreover, in addition to lethal cases, drug abuse has an influence on the frequency of occurrence of violence and other criminal activities; increases the likelihood of stress, depression, anxiety, quitting jobs, homelessness, etc. It makes the life of an addicted person hell and brings sufferings to his close people.

The U.S.A. is one of the most advanced countries of the world; yet, this country is not free from the harmful and deadly effects of drug abuse. From a structural functionalist viewpoint, drug abuse or any substance abuse can be defined as a social pathogen which hinders the ordinary functions of various organic parts of the society and stifles the concordant interactions between the organically performing participants of a society. The structure-functionalists assert that society is to be considered as a summation of organically functioning social constituents and substrates such as norms, traditions, customs, etc. that are interrelated with other social subsystems such as individuals, communities and interest groups. Therefore, the structural-functional perspective will define it as a social pathogen which hinders the “harmonious function between other interrelated subsystems, such as family, society, country, economy, healthcare, etc of the society” (Mooney, Knox & Schacht, 2000, p. 45).

The social problem of drug-abuse affects not only the individuals but the whole society as well. A sociological perspective will necessarily search for the impacts of drug addiction on two levels. Primarily the impacts of drug-abuse and addiction are visible on the individual level and then on the collective level. On the individual level, the person addicted to drug suffers from a variety of psychophysical problems. However, on the collective levels, it seriously affects the whole society by hampering the interactive functions among various institutions and substrates, such as economy, political systems, etc. Indeed the purpose of this paper is to explore and analyze the effects of drug abuse and addiction on the families as well as the society from different theoretical perspectives.

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Discussion on Alcohol

In the USA, the most widely used substance is alcohol which has direct and indirect effects on several elements like health, economy, road accidents, domestic violence and crimes, and so on. However, most of the adult people who drink alcohol do not experience the negative effects of alcoholism. On the other hand, according to the Organization of American States (2011), “World Health Organization estimates that worldwide alcohol causes 3.2% of all deaths or 1.8 million deaths annually and accounts for 4% of the global disease burden. The majority of these deaths are due to alcohol related accidents and injuries” (p. 8). Since alcohol has biochemical effects, it is categorized as a depressant. It is considered as a minor tranquilizer. Therefore, it is an over-the-counter tranquilizer. Most of the American adults drink alcohol occasionally. Nevertheless, alcohol has a significant effect in developing various problems. The two terms ‘alcoholism’ and ‘alcohol dependence’ are especially used for them who are dependent on drugs physiologically. A drug report says that over 8 million of the adults in the US have been addicted to alcoholism. The disease model is the most widely held view of alcoholism. It is a belief that medical illness or disease can be caused by the alcoholism. That means, that ‘’once a person with alcoholism takes a drink, the biochemical effects of the drug on the brain create an irresistible physical craving for more” (Substance Abuse and Dependence, n.d., p. 297). Alcoholism is a chronic and permanent condition. This study reveals that some alcohol abusers can control themselves from excessive drinking. Thus, some people disagree with the view that the people who are addicted to alcohol cannot drink moderately. Alcohol expenditure holds the leading position of all illicit drug expenses. From the social point of view, alcohol abuse is responsible for low production, job dismissal, and descending movement from overall development context. Domestic and outer crimes and violence including mugging and killing have a close connection to alcoholism. A study reveals that more than 180,000 sexual assaults and rapes happen every year in the USA, which is quite shameful in the domestic and international arena. Some of these assaults are triggered by extensive alcohol intake. A large number of suicides and road accidents take place due to alcoholism. Motorbike and vehicle accidents are one of the major results of alcoholism; and many teenagers die and get injured in motor accidents. Even though several awareness programs are held to make the common people conscious about the harmful effects of alcoholism, yet the damaging rate is on constant position. Furthermore, in some cases, the level is increasing. Researches show, in the United States more than 100,000 people pass away every year due to the harmful effect of alcohol. Needless to mention that most of the deaths occurred due to motor vehicle accidents and alcohol induced diseases.

Hazardous Drinking or Harmful Use of Alcohol among the General Population

The substances that increase the risk of damage and destruction are called hazardous. Since alcohol has most of the negative effects in it, hence the liquid can be called a hazardous drink. Harmful use signifies a prototype of consumption that influences the psychological or physical health of the user. Very few Latin American and Caribbean countries measure the harmful substance use in their national households’ surveys, but the United States invests in this type of research. A survey took place in 2009 by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the USA estimated that 3.2 million people during 12 years or over fulfill the condition of abuse of both alcohol and illicit drugs or dependence; whereas 15.5 million are completely alcohol dependent and about 19 million people during 12 years or over exhibited the criteria for alcohol abuse or dependence. This portrays a deadly picture which is equal to 7.4% of the total US population. According to Winterbourne (n.d.), the average death rates per year associated with the use alcohol in the United States are 80,000.


In the American context, the most common illicit drug is marijuana and it is used in every country of this continent. Marijuana is unquestionably the most widely used drug in the world. The use of this drug is widespread, and shows very unusual substance use behaviors across regions and on the state level. Among the secondary school students, an unusual occurrence has been observed in the ratios between marijuana and tobacco. In the majority parts of the world tobacco is used openly, while marijuana is forbidden and is used in secret. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) of 2010, the most commonly used illicit drug is marijuana. The drug abusers used nearly 76.8% of all marijuana in the year of 2010. It is a widespread substance among adolescents and young adults. However, the use of marijuana has been decreasing in the recent years.

Substance Dependence, Abuse, and Treatment

To assess the prevalence of drug use disorders, The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) added a series of questions in the past twelve months. There are several illicit drugs that can be defined as substances, such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, and the non-medical use of prescription-type psychotherapeutic drugs. The questions are connected to drug dependence inquiring about health and emotional problems related to substance use. According to Solution Retreat.org(n.d.),“ The best way to get an alcoholic or drug addict to change is for a recovering alcoholic or drug addict to tell them about their journey and to walk into recovery with them”.

Accidents, Injuries and Deaths Related to Alcohol Use

There are several evidences available which suggest that the large number of deaths, disease and physical injuries, including several mental problems such as anxiety and depression, are mainly occurred due to the harmful effect of alcohol. About 1.8 million deaths happen every year worldwide where half of these deaths are from physical injury.. A research from the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that approximately 75,000 deaths occur every year due to extreme alcohol intake, which is the third major cause of death.

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Drug Abuse from Structural-Functionalist Perspective

Society is defined by Emile Durkheim as an organized entity comprising different subsystems that function interactively to execute a person’s both the individual and social needs. In fact, society as a systematic response to needs puts importance on looking for resourceful or final grounds. Moreover, that scrutiny in terms of stages looks for a cause and effect relationship, which could be explained as causality of articulation. Depending on Durkheim’s structure-functional standpoint, the social pathology replica alleges that drug abuse can be perceived as a social pathogen that garrotes the usual workability of any subsystems of the society, such as family, groups, community, financial system, education, political system, etc. Indeed, the structure-functionalist theory also considers that the drug-addicted part of the society is essentially a malfunctioning subsystem affecting other subsystems. According to the same theory, drug abuse and substance dependence can be viewed as the outcomes of the breakdown of other social organizations. For instance, if the organization of family does not work accurately, such dysfunction will increase the rate of drug-addiction and also raise the rate of crimes related to drug-abuse. On the other hand, drug-abuse and dependence cause dysfunctions to other social organizations. The structure-functionalist observation, the explanation of the social predicament of drug abuse lies in the members’ reaction of “proper socialization and moral education, which may be accomplished in the family, schools, churches, workplace, and/or through the media” (Mooney, Knox, & Schacht, 2000, pp. 10-16). From a psychological viewpoint, drug abuse or substance abuse can be regarded as the direct consequence of emotional disorder, whether it originates from factors such as depression, frustrations, curiosity, etc. As Stephen Gold notes, drug abuse has the collection of cognitive and pharmacogenic influences of drug intake. The feeling that a person has no power over the surrounding and is not able to solve the stressful situations has a major role in the theory (Fisher et al, 2007).

Effects of Drug on Family and Social Life

Drug dependence can be viewed as a vicious cycle that starts from other social problems and finally ends in the aggravation of these social troubles. Sociology researches show that the root of drug addiction lies in social issues, such as the weakening family ties and decreased control from the family members, diminishing ethics and principles and religious value, joblessness, mental dejection, etc. Although the impacts of drug addiction are provoked by these issues, they are further depreciated by drug abuse itself. Different social offense reports and research papers discover that the juvenile crimes are directly related to the increasing drug abuse rate. Divorce has some terrible impacts on the rate of drug abuse with other social crimes, as Doherty and Needle (1991) say that children who are faced with drugs and alcohol abuse in the majority of cases have been raised in family that had parental conflict and parental rejection. These factors are more influential due to divorce, which increase the probability that children will be addicted to substances and alcohol. Children of conflicting parent are increasingly the victims of carelessness and abuse. A research carried by professor Robert Sampson (1992) reveals that the drug abuse rate is proportionately correlated with the crime rate in any given region. He also states that the lower drug abuse rate has higher encouraging impacts on the offense percentage in a locality.

Illegal drug trade that causes drug abuse directly affects the individuals both psychologically and physically. Moreover, its outcomes also influence the heart of a society. On the individual level, an addicted person experiences a variety of physical and mental problems. On the other hand, collectively drug dependence affects the entire society putting its different sectors such as economy, health sector, education sector, political sectors under crushing pressures. There is a wide range of drug abusing effects on the health and mind of a drug abuser. Researches demonstrate that in various countries a considerable portion of the road accidents is caused by drivers who are under the influence of drugs. Firstly comes the incentive of illicit drug, but next comes a crash, which is a moment of anxiety, stress, depression, extensive weakness and a serious wish to intake additional portion of substance to take away the feelings of the crash (Sampson, 1992). If a drug abuser attempts to give up the habit of taking drug, symptoms like vomiting, muscle cramps, convulsions, and delirium can increase the complexity of the treatment of drug addiction (Sampson, 1992). On the contrary, long term drug taking can create drug dependency and resistance. Taking drugs by syringes can spread diseases like AIDS, hepatitis, and other serious transmitted diseases. A drug abuser’s family faces the bitterest experience like social humiliation and social disrespect in the community. Studies show that the majority of the drug abusers are engaged in criminal activities like robbery, theft and prostitution, which often become prestige issue for the other family members.

Effects of Drug Trade on Economy in the US

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that illegal drug abuses claimed a toll of approximately $161 billion dollars per year on the US economy in 1999, 2000 and 2001 (NIDA, 2010). If the costs of alcoholism and smoking are included within the amount, the total cost will be about $487 billion dollar. Out of this total amount about 110 billion dollars was spent in lost productivity, whereas the healthcare cost is $12.9 billion.

Drug Effects

  • Effects on the Individual

There are wide range of side effects on heath and mind of illicit drug users. Most of the road accidents take place due to drug abuse. The stimulation of a cocaine effect, for instance, is followed by a crash: a period of anxiety, fatigue, depression, and a strong desire to use more cocaine to alleviate the experience of the crash. If a drug user wants to give up the bad habit of taking drug, there can be reflected some kind of symptoms like delirium, muscle cramps, convulsions, and vomiting. On the other hand, long term drug taking can create drug dependency and resistance. The drug abusers push the liquid drug into their body using same needle at a time which is the reason of breaking out of serious diseases like AIDS, hepatitis, other serious transmitted diseases. Moreover, a major part of the drug abusers are often engaged to criminal activity and prostitution. The most noticeable effects of drug addiction that are marked in the individuals who abuse drugs are bad health, illness and, finally, death. In the United States, the death toll is over 10,000 persons per year that were directly involved to the drug abusing.

  • Effects on the Family

The drug abuser’s family faces the bitterest experience in the society. The addicted person often is involved with the heinous act like begging money or stealing things, which in the majority of cases creates a prestige issue for the other family members. For these reasons, the relatives support unintentionally and authorize money by which the addicted fellow can continue heinous activity. These types of actions often create family crisis like marital problems, hatred, confusion and lead to divorce. Pregnant drug users stand a much higher rate of low birth weight babies. On the other hand, addiction during pregnancy causes harm to the baby still to come. That means increasing health issues of the baby, as well as death rate of the infant. The pregnant mother who uses intravenous drug can be carrying AIDS transmitting to her infant.

There are lots of negative effects on the society from the drug abuse. The drug addicts often feel drowsiness that decreases office activity, hence wastes productive time. Lots of road accidents take place due to addiction problem, which results in a huge death toll. The budget of the federal government is $17.9 in the year of 1999 for trial, detention center, global law enforcement, treatment, and decreasing of road accidents. National researches have reported that father and mothers who misuse drugs frequently put their desire to receive drugs ahead of the physical health and benefit of their kids. NSDUH data gathered during 2002 and 2003 points out that 4.3 percent of pregnant women aged 15 to 44 report having used illicit drugs in the past month. Moreover, that same data show that 8.5 percent of new mothers report having used illicit drugs in the past month.

  • Effects on the Society

There are also numerous negative effects on the society from drug abuse. The drug addicts do not possess productivity at work, if they work at all. Lots of road accidents take place due to addiction problem. Drug addiction is directly related to the psychological disorders, which are caused by the conflict between parents, such as depression, frustrations, curiosity, the willingness to try out drug, etc. The CAP theory of drug abuse highlights the communication of cognitive-affective-pharmacogenic consequences of drug taking. The conviction that one is ineffective to influence the environment and deal with stress plays a vital role in the hypothesis. Drug dependency is related to an individual’s endeavor to cope with his or her inner emotional and outer social environment. Brief mental relief from cruel reality is one of the arguments for drug intake, which is usually recognized by the addicts. Psychological studies often describe addiction as an adolescent’s flawed withdrawal attempt from the reality into the dark and temporary relief received from drugs, when he or she is deprived of the emotional support from his or her nearest and dearest ones.

The Principles of Active Citizenship and the Drug Abuse during the Next Five to Ten Years

An active citizenship means taking up by associations and educational institutions. It supports members of corporations and companies or national organizations that have definite roles and responsibilities to the society and the environment. Though these members might not have exact governing roles, they have social influence. Citizenship deals with the association between the person and political society. The program needs to reveal this: it must help the individuals appreciate both their own personality and the environment of community. Moreover, they should teach how to energetically connect with the intricate association of rights and responsibilities that subsist between the two. The goal is the development of the active citizenship. The principles of active citizenship, in several cases, have proved to be the right choice and in some cases, they have proved to be wrong. However, from the general point of view, the principles of active citizenship would be fruitful. In both policy and practice, active citizenship and passive citizenship must be analyzed. The citizen who takes the responsibility in a society is considered active. The term has been chosen from volunteering by writers such as Jonathan Tisch. The policy makers and the politicians are demanding for an active citizenship, which will address what they recognize as a democratic discrepancy. There are many promises in the active citizenship with a little delivery. Many years ago, Aristotle emphasized that it is impossible to become a superior ruler without having the experience of being ruled. The system of good ruling and obedience are the identical asset. The good citizen has to have the knowledge and capability both to rule and be ruled. Understanding the governing of free men from both points of view is the main virtue of a good citizen. Thus, the principles have to be realized by the government at first, and then they can be imposed on the citizens.


From the beginning of the present century, drug abuse seems like a calamity all over the world, and the USA is one of the victim countries. No country of this world is free from this catastrophe. Substance abuse and its business, no confusion, is a social curse. As the illegal drug business is enormously money making and flexible, it attracts most of the people to cling on with the unlawful trade. There are two most significant reasons behind this illegal trade. The first reason is the undeniable development of globalization that made the earth so close. In addition, it is the technological revolution of the previous century that extended associations among the countries over the world. Consequently, the communication is easier and transportation routes are well-developed than ever before. The second reason is associated with the basic principles of the functioning of human society. The forces that play a crucial function taking drug are increasing stress levels, negative mental force on individuals, unemployment problem, etc. To evaluate the temper and reaches of a society, when steadiness, sensible employment, education and relaxation chances are absent, utilization of drug can be an incomparable scale. The approval toward flexible drugs differs from country to country. In order to decrease the use of hard drugs many countries have legitimated the use of soft drugs. However, the real scenario differs from the view of the experts.