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Drug Consumption in the U.S.: Social Economics - Accurate Essays

Drug Consumption in the U.S.: Social Economics

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Drug Consumption in the U.S.: Social Economics

Prior to dwelling on the research questions, it is imperative to first understand the meaning of a drug. McHugh et al. (2) define a drug as a medicine or other substances that have physiological effects when consumed or introduced into the body. A drug alters a person’s physical or mental state, and may alter how a person feels, how the brain works, how the user behaves as well as their senses (McHugh et al. 2). The effects of some drugs are unpredictable and harmful, particularly for young people. For example, Becker identifies marijuana as a potentially harmful drug that causes psychological problems after prolonged use (238). More fundamentally, the effects of drugs differ among people significantly because how a person reacts to a particular drug may not be the same as with how another person reacts to the same drug. The study argues that even though some drugs play fundamental medical purposes, some people tend to misuse certain forms for reactional purposes, thus leading to addiction (Becker 235). Abusing hard and soft drugs such as crystal methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin and marijuana, hash, and tobacco, respectively have always generated heated debates among different stakeholders.However, one major concern today revolves around the misuse of prescription drugs. Evidence suggests that even though the rate of death emerging from abusing prescription drugs has dropped in the recent past, cases have increased significantly, which raises concern among different stakeholders. The issue is a problem because those misusing the drug are likely to suffer due to various effects. Some people even lose their lives due to misuse. Misuse of prescription drugs is increasingly becoming national concern and stakeholders believe that the adopted measures will help to address the matter effectively to prevent further harm and death.

The Greatest Set of Problem Associated with Drugs

One of the major challenges associated with drugs and war against drugs is misuse of prescription drugs, which entails ingesting medication in a way or dose beyond the recommended or prescribed. Addiction according to Alexander ceased from being simply a nuisance in the ancient society to a rapidly escalating menace in the contemporary world as society focused on industrial revolution and free market economics (3). Misuse of prescription drugs also entails consuming other people’s prescriptions, even for a reasonable medical problem such as pain; or ingesting medication to get a euphoric feeling. The non-medical utilization of prescription drugs usually touch on three categories of medication; opioids, CNS (central nervous system) depressants, which comprises of hypnotics, sedatives, and tranquilizers that often treat sleep disorders and anxiety, and stimulants (National Institute on Drug Abuse). Opioids are medications that have the ability to impact on opioid receptors in the brain and the spinal cord to minimize the impact of pain-signal perception. Opioids also impacts on areas of the brain that regulate emotions (National Institute on Drug Abuse). The medications often prescribed as CNS depressants, include benzodiazepines such as alprazolam, clonazepam, and diazepam, non-benzodiazepine sleep drugs such as zaleplon and zolpidem, and barbiturates such as pentobarbital sodium and mephobarbital, often administered to mitigate anxiety or to help those with sleep problems. Other forms in this group are opioids, typically prescribed to manage or treat pain, and stimulants, often prescribed to address attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (National Institute on Drug Abuse). A person can become addicted to stimulants because the enhance energy, attention, and alertness, and also increase respiration, heart rate, and blood pressure. Traditionally, stimulants were prescribed to treat a wide range of respiratory complications, asthma, neurological problems, and obesity among other illnesses (National Institute on Drug Abuse). But as their likelihood for misuse and addiction became evident, the number of health conditions addressed using stimulants has gone down. Now, stimulants are only recommended for the treatment of a limited number of health problems such as treatment-resistant depression and narcolepsy in addition to ADHD.

Why the Problem is Particularly Troublesome

Misuse of prescription drugs is of particular concern because it has some potential harmful effects on users. The National Institute on Drug Abuse informs that someone abusing prescription drugs may overburden their systems or be at the risk of encountering adverse drug reactions that can result in adverse implications such as coma, seizure, or death. The National Institute on Drug Abuse further asserts that misuse of prescription drugs can have fatal medical effects. The problem is a matter of concern because stimulants such as methylphenidate and dextroamphetamine function on the brain on the group of monoamine neurotransmitter systems that comprise of dopamine and norepinephrine. Stimulants often heighten the effects of these chemicals. An escalation in dopamine emanating from nonmedical utilization of stimulants can evoke a euphoric feeling, and the effects of these medication on norepinephrine escalate heart rate, blood pressure, heighten blood sugar, constrict blood vessels, and create breathing paths (National Institute on Drug Abuse). Some of these conditions expose users to illnesses such as hypertension and diabetes. In addition, escalation in prescription drug abuse over the last one and a half decade are reflected in heightened visits to emergency rooms, overdose mortalities related to prescription drugs, and hospitalizations for prescription drug misuse-related complications, the most serious stage of which is an addition (National Institute on Drug Abuse). Deaths due to overdose of prescription drugs, especially opioids escalated from about 3,440 in 1999 to more than 17,000 in 2017 (National Institute on Drug Abuse). However, the mortality rate dropped between 2017 and 2017 to approximately 14,100 (National Institute on Drug Abuse). The many problems that are likely to occur from abusing prescription drugs calls for effective intervention to understand why so many people become victims and possibly come up with a remedying plan (National Institute on Drug Abuse). Otherwise, many people who abuse prescription drugs will develop conditions that are difficult to address some of which may turn out to be fatal.

Cause of the Problem

A person can become addicted to prescription drugs and engage in continuous misuse due to various reasons. One of the apparent reasons that could lead one to misuse prescription drugs is present or past additions to other drugs or substances (Compton and Volkow 5). The many factors leading people to abuse prescription drugs fall into two main categories; environment and genetics. An example of an environmental factor could be the family’s views and beliefs towards drug use. A person who comes from a family that does not castigate abuse of prescription drugs or where some members are addicts is likely to become affected and may be tempted to indulge in the practice (Compton and Volkow 5). Another environmental factor that could lead one to abuse prescription drugs is the influence from peers. One may be tempted to use drugs when they notice that their failure to indulge in the practice secludes them from their peers. However, the practice becomes habitual, and affects the user’s overall health and well-being. In addition, friends not only offer immediate reach to substances, but also nurture drug using behavior and help impact positive attitudes and beliefs towards the utilization of drugs (Compton and Volkow 6). Prescription drug use by friends is also likely to determine perceptions of how normative prescription drug abuse is among peers. The other major factor that could lead a person to misuse prescription drugs is genetics. Once a person starts misusing a medication drug, the transition into addiction may be impacted by genetic or inherited traits, which may hasten or delay how the disease progresses (Compton and Volkow 6). Knowing the potential causes of misuse of prescription drugs may help to address the problem more effectively.  

Most Affected Groups

Evidence suggests that younger people and more males than females are into abusing prescription drugs. More people between ages of 18-26 misuse prescription drugs, which represents 39% contrasted to people aged 26-29, which stands for 34% (NCDAS). A significant number (70%) of those who try to misuse prescription drugs before age 14 develop a disorder within the next six or seven years contrasted to 26% of those who engage in the behavior after the age of 18 (NCDAS). Furthermore, the rate of males abusing prescription drugs is higher than that of females. Consequently, younger people and males are the most affected groups in terms of misusing prescription drugs.

How the Society should Respond to the Problem

The society has adopted various measures to help people are affected by misuse of prescription drugs or find it difficult to quit the habit. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has introduced various programs to help addicted people. The group initiated and promotes its Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) program that utilizes medications together with counseling and behavioral therapies to give a patient-centered approach to the mitigation of drug abuse disorders (SAMHSA). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the MAT terming it an evidence-based technique that diminishes psychological cravings, which are the primary cause of lack of chemical balance (SAMHSA). In addition to the nationally applied techniques, individual practitioners have established institutions where they help individual clients overcome the destructive habit. Furthermore, members of the society now acknowledge the importance of handling such addicts well as a way of showing them love and encouraging them to quit the behavior. It is inappropriate to incarcerate drug users as Alexander (a) describes how the launching of the War on Drugs targeted mostly Blacks some of whom faced harsh treatment than they deserve (5). Netherland and Helena think that such crackdowns do not usually yield positive results, and even refers to the War on Drugs as a flop that only reinforced racial differences (217). Instead, the society should be friendly towards affected people and enact suitable measures to help them.


The issue of misusing prescription drugs continues to generate heated reactions from different stakeholders who think that the problem may have far-reaching consequences if nothing happens to mitigate it. More people are abusing prescription drugs with the widely misused drugs being opioids, CNS depressants, and stimulants. The problem is a major concern because affected people develop serious consequences, especially after long-term use. The study shows that the number of those who succumbed to the effects of misuse first increased before reducing slightly. However, the reduction does not imply that the problem is getting any better because more people continue to encounter the serious effects associated with misuse of prescription drugs. The paper shows that a person can enter into abusing prescription drugs due to various factors such as pre-exposure to other forms of drugs and alcohol, family history, and particular pre-existing psychiatric problems. Other factors that lead people to misuse prescription drugs, include lack of family participation and peer influence. The study reveals that younger people misuse prescription drugs as opposed to older adults. Furthermore, more men than women are likely to become users and subsequently be affected due to misuse of prescription drugs. The study shows that the society has embraced a variety of measures to help affected people, including establishing programs that guide affected people and showing them care and love.

Works Cited

Alexander, Bruce. The Roots of Addiction in Free Market Society. In Granfield and Reinarman (Eds.) Expanding Addiction: Critical Essays. Routledge, 2015.

Alexander a, Michelle. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. The New Press, 2010.

Becker, Howard. “Becoming a Marihuana User.” The American Journal of Sociology, vol. 59, no. 3, 1953, pp. 235-242.

Compton, Wilson and Nora Volkow. “Abuse of Prescription Drugs and the Risk of Addiction.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, vol. 83, no. 1, 2006, pp. 4-7.

“Drug Abuse Statistics.” NCDAS, 2021, . Accessed 23 Nov. 2021.

McHugh, Kathryn, Suzanne Nielsen and Roger Weiss. “Prescription Drug Abuse: From Epidemiology to Public Policy.” Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, vol. 48, no. 1, 2015, pp. 1-7.

“MAT Medications, Counseling, and Related Conditions.” SAMHSA, 2021,  Accessed 23 Nov. 2021.

“Misuse of Prescription Drugs Research Report: What Classes of Prescription Drugs are

            Commonly Misused?” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2021, . Accessed 23 Nov. 2021.

Netherland, Julie and Helena Hansen. “White Opioids: Pharmaceutical Race and the War on

            Drugs that Wasn’t.” Biosocieties, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 217-238.

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