Criminal Justice Essay Paper on Substance Abuse

Substance Abuse


Drug use in the US started in the early 1800s, with Opium being rampantly used during the civil war. Since then, various measures have been applied in curbing drug abuse to little or no avail. Currently, the nation is deeply embroiled in the war on drug abuse in a bid to eliminate the vice that has largely affected the socioeconomic structures of the country.

Alcohol poses a great risk to the individual and society; please discuss overall patterns of use, side effects, addiction potential, availability, legal consequences (if any), etc. Explain fully

The recent statistics on alcohol use in the US indicate that it has declined over time (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2009).

Patterns of Substance Use in the US

Its consumption varies with ethnicity and race, with men likely to consume higher quantities of alcohol compared to women in a single sitting in all cases. According to Hanson (2013), women register higher rates of abstinence compared to men in both white, Hispanic and African Americans racial groups. Additionally, abstention is inversely related to social status, with women showing higher abstention rates compared to men in either class (Hanson, 2013).

Effects OF Drug Abuse

Excessive consumption of alcohol leads to alcoholism. This is associated with many negative impacts, such as slur or incoherence, clumsiness, delayed reflexes, stomach pains and loss of consciousness. Some of the signs of alcohol abuse include loss of control of the amount to be consumed when people start drinking, constant inattention to the personal obligations, engaging in dangerous habits, increased emotion changes and expressions of anger and oversleeping. Long-term alcohol abusers and addicts face the danger of medical consequences in their attempt to quit alcohol abuse without proper medical care and/or advice. Such consequences include tremors, profuse sweating, anxiety, persistent insomnia, nausea, vomiting, hallucinations and seizures among others. Alcohol abuse affects a person’s physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and social health. In terms of body health, excessive alcohol causes direct negative effects on liver, nervous system, heart, stomach and brain. In addition, alcohol abuse causes other side effects such as high blood pressure, ovarian cancer, sexual problems, stomach problems, osteoporosis and sexual problems (Brienza & Stein, 2002).

Some of the motivating factors of alcohol abuse include emotional satisfaction from drinking, personal characteristics of underage drinkers, easy access to alcohol, family influence, peer or friend’s influence, and advertisements or media influences (OJJDP, 2012). Some of the emotional reasons why addicts abuse alcohol include curtailing stress, tension and worries, relaxation and reduction of inhibitions in social situations, enhancing their courage and the feeling of power, improving sexual attractions and satisfying their curiosity on the effect of alcohol. Some of the personal characteristics that may increase the likelihood of a person to engage in alcoholism include impulsive or excitement seeking person, and rebellious such that they are not obliged to adhere to regulations or do not want responsibility (Liang & Chikritzhs, 2013 and OJJDP, 2012). Additionally, those with mental issues such as depression may be at a relatively high risk of alcohol abuse.

How do you think addiction to alcohol and /or drugs can be best prevented? If an addiction does develop, of all the substance treatment programs, which of these hold the most promise for the individual society? Explain fully

Prevention strategies may focus on the individual or the surroundings that people inhabit. Community and school based prevention programs have been identified as helpful in educating families and children on the negative impacts of drug abuse. For example, New Futures in New Hampshire[1] is involved in educating, advocating and collaborating in reducing drug and alcohol abuse in the state. In schools, programs that enable students to be interactive and acquire skills necessary for eliminating drug use have been found to be more effective compared to strict educational and non-interactive ones. The prevention measures should comprehensively address direct and indirect influences e.g. peer and media influence respectively (Leukefeld and Bukoski, 1991). Such holistic measures/programs are able to incorporate broad social measures that many programs may not be able to consider. Lower rates of drug use are achieved when the preventive programs focus on the aspect of social commitment towards drug use. A crucial facet of prevention strategies is encouraging all community members to participate.

The main goals of treatment strategies for substance abuse include reduction of substance abuse or attainment of substance-free life, maximization of multiple aspects of life functioning, and reduction in the severity or the frequency of relapse. Effective treatment strategies should be able to minimize the effects of continued drug use through counseling, education, change of recreational activities and lifestyle patterns, encouraging drug abusers to join self-help groups that encourage reduction in risky behaviors, and associating with drug-free friends until they attain the required abstinence levels (Leukefeld and Bukoski, 1991). Some of the broad treatment measures for drug abuse include improving the physical and psychological health, treating the accompanying psychiatric disorders, seeking solutions to financial and legal challenges, addressing relationship or family issues that bedevil them, and development of the necessary educational skills. Some of the treatment techniques that can be directly applied in the management of alcoholism menace include pharmacotherapy, psychosocial or psychological interventions, behavioral therapies and self-help groups (Azrin, et al. 1994).). The treatment strategy that holds the most promise for the individual society is behavioral treatment. This is because it helps patients to be receptive to other treatment strategies through modifying their attitudes and behaviors related drug abuse and the various ways that they can apply in improving their health. Some of the programs involved in behavioral treatment strategies include individual or group counseling, cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, multidimensional family therapy and motivational incentives.

Do you believe that current drug enforcement is succeeding? Why or why not? Can we, will we ever, are we (the U.S.) winning the war on drugs? Why or why not? What would you do to improve drug enforcement (nationally or internationally). Explain fully.

The US has unsuccessfully waged war against drug abuse for almost a century now. Drug abusers are still filling our courts, prisons and hospitals, drug trade continues to cause violent crime that makes our neighborhoods insecure, and new cases related to child abuse, neglect and abandonment are rising every day. The only beneficiaries in this unfortunate fiasco are the drug dealers and crime members. In lieu of this, the government has profoundly focused on criminalization of drug abuse, especially through eradicating the supply of drugs and focusing on new legal provisions aimed at reducing the consumption of drugs. For instance, one of the legal provisions that was expected to be effective in the fight against alcoholism, especially underage drinking is raising the drinking age to 21 years across the US (OJJDP, 2012). This strategy is not working because the cases of underage drinking are still rampant despite the passage of the underage drinking regulation by the congress. In addition to the high costs associated with drug enforcement, it has also been counterproductive.

One of the challenges to the war on drug abuse is that the authorities are not targeting the right people. Therefore, focus should be on the main drug suppliers rather than targeting the insignificant small scale drug users. Many financial resources are being wasted on prosecuting drug offenders, education, prevention and treatment. As ridiculous as a compromise to legalization may seem, the severity of the situation indicates that a compromise to drug use deserves consideration. Irrespective of the measures that will be applied, the bottom line is that drug abuse should be reduced or eliminated altogether. In my opinion, the current drug laws should be relaxed to enable the government shift spending on law enforcement and focus on more effective, cost-effective and inclusive prevention strategies. Furthermore, substantial efforts should be applied in the treatment and prevention programs to help patients to ameliorate the problems caused by alcohol abuse so that they can become responsible and contribute positively to societal growth.





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