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Drug Use

Introduction

Illicit use of drug among adolescents is a prevalent problem in all parts of the world despite the presence of laws which prohibit its use. The prevalence of drug use among adolescents could be attributed to the changes that adolescents undergo. Adolescence is characterized by various changes in ones life including changes in ones personality, emotions and defense mechanisms of adolescents. Parents may want to protect their children by giving advices on how to deal with the changes that are taking place in their body. But most adolescents rarely listen to the older generations but seek for the help and understanding of people their age. Thereby they become reliant on their peers for approval. As a result, adolescents take their on stride without heeding their parents warning on the use of drugs. They may even try to convince their parents that using drugs is just normal. More commonly adolescents tend to use drugs when they are trying to cope with problems relating to their sexuality. Adolescents for the first time have to deal with their problems and the inability to face these problems may turn adolescents to avoidance by means of drug use. Others also tend to become more attached to their peers than to their parents thus they could be easily influenced into using drugs. But due to the effects of drugs, instead of helping themselves, adolescents only plunge themselves into a bigger dilemma.  Although, peer influence appear to have a great contribution to drug use among adolescents, peer influence may not solely govern this problem but it may be a result of interaction of various influences.

Adolescents and young adults who use drugs are vulnerable to the problems associated with the use of drugs. Marijuana for example can cause disruption of the intrapersonal functioning of an individual. In a study conducted by Brook et al in 1989 revealed that this drug can also cause rebelliousness, lower achievement motivation and greater tolerance towards deviance. Furthermore, higher amounts of drug consumption can interfere as well as impair the development of the sense of identity of the adolescent thereby resulting to an individual who is confused with himself, his sexuality, his goals and even result to delayed maturity. Clinical evidences also show that there are drugs that cause poorer ego integration and psychological functioning on the users which may progress into psychotic episodes (Brook et al., 1990).

Although peer influence in drug use seems so apparent, it does not solely influence the adolescents in using drugs. Other important factors also contribute to the development of substance use disorder. Other than peer influences, the socioeconomic status of the adolescents is also considered to be a significant factor due to the observations that there is higher incidence of substance use among lower socioeconomic status. Genetics was also considered by researchers due to the seeming ability of drug use to run in families.

Crime

Drug addiction is one of the most pervasive problems that have plagued our world irrespective of being rich or poor. Drug addiction, in simple terms can be described as a compulsive use of a drug despite negative consequences ranging from moderate to severe. There are a variety of reasons why a person takes drugs; a few may be peer pressure, emotional distress, anxiety, depression, environmental stress etc. When a person tries a drug, likes the effect and continues taking it, he becomes addicted to the drug. In the long term, this causes severe deterioration to their mental and physical health. Drug addiction is characterized by an overpowering desire to continue taking the drug and thus obtaining it by any means. Once addicted, physical dependence grows on the effects of the drug and upon withdrawal the body can react abnormally, known as ‘withdrawal syndrome’, which can even, be life threatening. Some commonly used drugs are cocaine, opium, marijuana, heroine, and crystal meth, mushroom etc. these drugs have euphoric and soothing effect on the user and are used as anti-depressants. But regular intake of these drugs causes the addicts to intake higher and higher amount to achieve the same effect. Hence there is immediate necessity to stop young people from experimenting with drugs for fun. (Backstrom, “Canadian Drug Victim Sues dealer”)

It is said that the most potent weapon to curb the demand is by curbing the supply and vice versa. Drug dealers are actually dealers in death. They target the young people and hence are a danger not only to them but also to the society as a whole. Whereas the addicts suffer themselves and have rare or no bandwagon effect, the drug dealers have a mass effect thereby afflicting large sections of the society. The victims are the individuals who deal in the violence that almost always follows the illegal drug trade and threatens to destroy the basic fabric of safety in our society. Drug dealing is a profitable business and most of the time the peddlers are not the addicts. They employ their clients, the addicts to sale their wares and catch new addicts. Initially young people try drugs for fun. But after some session, the fun becomes a compulsion. This pushes the addict more in the darkness and at the mercy of the dealer. He can commit any crime to get his share of the drug and thus the network is maintained. Drug dealers are not the working class people and they are like parasites feeding and draining on society. (Wright and Decker)

Drug dealers are always on the look out for victims who are young and vulnerable. They not only supply drugs, but to expand their business they introduce drugs to new user thus turning them into victims. Once addicted the addicts can go to any length to continue their addiction and this leads to a variety of crimes. Drug addicts are beaten or killed for drug debts, robbery or theft crimes. Most of the times, the addicts start to have some ‘fun’ or as a harmless experiment; and the people who encourage them to addiction are the dealers. It is obvious that without the dealers, people do not have access to illegal drugs since they are not sold in open markets. The dealers make the drugs accessible to the people and hence inflict immense harm to the youth. Everybody knows that both selling and taking illegal drugs are banned. It is the dealers who violates the ban and injects drugs in the society. It has also been seen that victims, coming back cured from the rehabilitation centers, often fall prey to the drug peddlers again and thus are forced to renew the habit. The peddlers are reluctant to let them go since the addicts are also potential drug dealers who often help them to spread the deadly network. Drug dealers are the mediators between people who produce drugs and people who take drugs. Thus they bring the evil to its ultimate fruition. The end users do not cause the damage, they are the damage. People become addicts not by choice, but because it becomes irresistible after the first try.

Drug is the second largest industry in the world after the arms and in order to keeps this industry running, drug traffickers devise ingenuous ways to smuggle narcotics to and from different countries. Drug smuggling is a well-organized crime and the peddlers always manage to remain in anonymity.  One of the most potent ways to smuggle drugs is to do it through addicts who take drugs themselves. This way, the actual drug dealers remain safe and the addicts sometimes have to pay a heavy cost for their addiction. (Rajaram)

A famous drug trafficking incident is the Bali Nine case where nine Australian citizens, ranging from year 18-28 were caught in Bali Indonesia in April 2005, with large amount of heroine. They were caught and convicted with death sentence though later that was brought down to life imprisonment. These youths, drug addicts themselves also became drug peddlers under compulsion, threat or for a variety of other reasons and ended themselves in prison, thus ruining their entire lives. While the big drug dealers, who had threatened them to carry out the job or who had supplied them with the drugs remained undiscovered till today. Another example is the Schapelle Corby case. Schapelle too is an Australian citizen who is in prison with a twenty-year sentence, in Indonesia for drug smuggling. She maintained from her arrest that drugs were planted in her bag and pleaded innocent. These incidents show how common victims and addicts are used and abused by big drug peddlers thus ultimately bringing about their ruin. (Bali Nine)

Drug addiction and the fatal consequences of the addicts have been and still is the subject of many movies. One that deserves special mention is Gia, played by Angelina Jolie. (Cristofer, et al) The movie is about a self-indulgent super model that becomes a drug addict and manager her supplies of drugs till the end when she becomes crazy. The movie shows how drug suppliers help the addicts to maintain their habit. Victims would have had the willpower to quit had not the drug been made so available to them. Another movie that deserves mention is Traffic played by Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones. (Soderburg, et al) What this film makes most clear is that the War on Drugs is a war, a civil war, with real casualties, real prisoners, that spreads well beyond the mark of its originating participants to touch even the lives of those who seem most removed from it. Among other topics, the film touches upon: asset seizure, the ease with which young people can get drugs despite vigorous enforcement, the rampant police corruption that the War stimulates, and the endless, horrible violence (including torture) that desperate participants in the War engage in.

Drug addicted youth are not only a lost case themselves, but also a loss to their families, society, nation and the world. Hence to stop drug addiction, equal emphasis should be given to the addicts as to the peddlers. First and foremost, youth should have the strength to say no and not to yield to the fatal temptation that ultimately leads to nothing but destruction. News that currently snatched the headlines is that of a Canadian woman called Sandra Bergen who has successfully sued her dealer who sold her an illegal street drug that put her in coma. This should serve as an example on how we can hit back people who tend to snatch our beautiful life from us.

Theories

Rationalists’ Theories On Criminal Activity

Rationalists came up with the rational choice theory that is based on utilitarianism and that argued that individuals are rational beings who weighed the costs and benefits of an action before making a rational choice. As such, criminals, like other human beings, would weigh the costs and benefits of committing a crime (Cornish & Ronald, 1986). It is considered that criminals usually will rationally view the benefits of the crime that they intend to do as outweighing the costs involved such as the likelihood of apprehension. It is therefore logical for a criminal to try to minimize the risks involved in a crime by making considerations such as the place, time and other situational factors surrounding the crime.

The three major assumptions involved in this theory are individualism, self regard, and optimality (Siegel, 2003). Under individualism, it is individuals who decide to take certain actions on their own and not as part of a larger group of people or society. Under optimality, individuals decide to undertake an action given that individual’s preferences and the various opportunities and limitations that he or she is faced by. It is thus apparent that an optimum action would be one that there is no other preferred action over the one that has been chosen. Under self regard, it is assumed that the actions that an individual will take are concerned completely with that person’s welfare and as such will strive to uphold these interests at all times.

From these assumptions, one could conclude that people possess free will on which they make the choices on how to act. An important point forwarded by rationalists was that punishment that is of sufficient severity has the capability of discouraging criminal activity sine the costs of doing the crime will outweigh the benefits (Beccaria, 1764). The severity of a punishment is required to be proportion with the crime that was done by the offender. In addition, if the punishment was given as swiftly as possible and definitely, the further successful it was in discouraging such criminal activity (Gary, 1968).

 This theory goes hand in hand with the routine activity theory that posits that for any form of criminal activity it take place, there must be the following: a motivated offender, a suitable target, and no authority figure that could put off the crime from taking place (Clarke & Felson, 1993). Under this theory, criminal activity is a normal characteristic of society and it usually depends on availability of opportunities to carry such criminal activity. A crime does not necessarily be done by a hard core criminal as any one can carry out a criminal activity as far as the opportunity to perform it exists.

Psychological theory

This states that crime is learned and can only be defined as the behavioral interactions with others. The behavioral theory is hugely relevant to the occurrence of crimes.  This theory is also known as the ‘social learning theory’. The basic premise of ‘social learning theory’ is modeled on social and antisocial behavior of individuals. This theory also voices for the various influences that individuals have in terms of becoming criminals and reacting in a contradictory way towards the society.  Some of the influences are ‘verbal taunts’, ‘threats’, ‘experience of direct pain’ and ‘apprehending relative social disability’. Also people who have learnt drugs abuse and applied it and got rewarded they are more likely to behave the same manner than those who have not learnt it. In modern world so much technology has come into the arena that the role of media becomes very integral while reporting about any crime.  In addition to this the entertainment world, through the effects of movies creates a lot of impact on individuals relating to crime. Crime always develops in the minds of the individuals. An individual passes through various stages in life and at every point in their life the differences between right and wrong must be highlighted to them. The overall psyche and the personality of an individual also determine the probability of getting into crime. Psychologists have viewed that the turbulent personality structure of an individual gives birth to crime. It is determined that individuals who are involved in crimes are marked by impulsiveness, instability and hyperactivity. The economically poor areas are more prone to criminal activities than well urbanized areas.  Along with this the cultural aspects and education background also play a very crucial role. Sometimes the non- accountability factor towards others add a lot to the criminal psychology of the individuals. Lack of rule settings and social norms does cause a hindrance in the minds of individuals in their thinking. They would start believing that the world out there is very competitive and one mistake could show them the end of their dreams. This economic turbulence forces them to choose the path of crime. People get into this field to run their houses and believe in getting a better way of living. Neighborhood does play an important role as it build up the base of kids. If there is violence in the neighborhood it will only add fuel to the fire. Kids will go for drug abuse, extortion and many other things which will only increase the crime rates.  These initial steps of crime have to be curtailed so that it does not get blown out of proportions. (Siegel, 2009, pp102-110)

Application

Rationalists’ Theories on Criminal Activity

If a target is available and it is not adequately protected and that the benefits of carrying out the crime outweigh the costs, then a crime will take place. It is thus clear why such hot spots in the crime prone areas have high crime rates as their exits all of the needed requirements for a crime to take place. There is an offender who acting individually, optimally, and in self regard, will find a target to carry out a crime on and there is no guardian in the vicinity that could hinder the crime from taking place. In addition, abandoned houses due to foreclosures create areas that lack an authority figure or guardian that could avert the crime. In the event that there is a suitable target, then a crime will take place.

Conclusion

In order to further reduce the crime rate of drug abuse, it is important that the police force and other involved authorities put measures that will make the availability of the chances for the occurrence of criminal activity minimal. A criminal activity will take place because there is an attractive opportunity that makes it possible for a crime to take place as well the benefits outweighing the costs. In order to counter such an opportunity, it is necessary that the costs of carrying that crime are increased so as to offer no incentive to an individual who would have done that crime.

Since the person will ever be rational, if the costs of performing a criminal act outweigh the benefits that he or she will get, then the person will resist from undertaking such an act. The authorities should identify the various hotspots that are prone to criminal activity and use this data to set up authority figures such as police patrol vehicles placed strategically, street lighting and additional surveillance that could avert a crime from occurring (Clarke, 1997). They also need to strengthen the Compstat policing strategy that maps these hot spots using geographic information systems in order to make better decisions in their approach towards crime reduction.

The general public needs to be incorporated in the exercise of crime reduction. This is because people don’t understand the crime reduction statistics that are given out by the authorities since what they see around them is what matters the most. People usually tend to believe what is happening around them, what they hear from friends, and what happens to themselves or their loved ones. As such, community policing is necessary so as to include the communities living around these hot spots in the activities been put into place to address the high crime (Beito, 1999). They could be educated on how to make themselves not suitable targets as well as being authority figures to avert individuals with criminal intentions from carrying out their criminal activities.

There is also need that there is an adoption of information and intelligence led policing to help combat crime both in the short and long term. In addition, a problem oriented policing approach should be taken that will involve the identification of various crimes and corresponding disorder problems and analyzing them in order o come up with successful response strategies (Chainey & Jerry, 2005).

Drug addicted youth are not only a lost case themselves, but also a loss to their families, society, nation and the world. Hence to stop drug addiction, equal emphasis should be given to the addicts as to the peddlers. First and foremost, youth should have the strength to say no and not to yield to the fatal temptation that ultimately leads to nothing but destruction. News that currently snatched the headlines is that of a Canadian woman called Sandra Bergen who has successfully sued her dealer who sold her an illegal street drug that put her in coma. This should serve as an example on how we can hit back people who tend to snatch our beautiful life from us.

Recommendation

Another important way to curb drug dealing is proper law enforcement. Criminal law is certainly more important as far as the development of the drug controls is concerned. Drug policies should be revised and strict laws and punishment should be meted out on the dealers. Corruption among law enforcing officials is a common problem that keeps laws from being properly implemented or punishments meted out. Awareness at all levels should be generated that drug addiction can occur to any one anywhere and nobody is actually safe unless we are mentally determined to fight the evil.  

Rehabilitation is another way to reduce addiction levels. Through rehab, addicts get a meaningful chance to break the cycle of addiction and arrest. Change in the social condition is another powerful weapon to curb drug addiction among youths. Hopelessness, frustration, lack of love and care from the society and wrong training often leads to mental depression in youth and in order to fight these they fall for drugs which give them a easy way to escape. But it should also be kept in mind that the ‘enjoyable’ delirium lasts only for a short while and what follows is an eternity of nightmare. Youth is a precious gift. One should use it for a good purpose, to make one’s life better.

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