Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Addiction, Drugs, Abuse, Violence, Bullying, Psychology, Alcoholism, Alcohol

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/09/23


Addiction has become a major problem for society. Addiction crosses over ethnic, economic and cultural lines. Addiction to legal drugs, illegal drugs and alcohol affects millions of people in the United States. The costs of addiction are economic, psychological and physical, not only to the individual but to society as a whole. The dynamics of addiction on the individual are varied and complex. Many do recover from addiction with intense interventions and go on to live a normal life.
According to the Blackwell Encyclopedia of Social Psychology, addiction is a set of behaviors that, in this case, involve the use of drugs and/or alcohol. The criteria are: the behavior is established quickly; the behavior is frequent; the behavior involves and excess amount of time; the behavior causes social, emotional and financial problems; the behavior is difficult to relinquish and the behavior results in a physiological craving and inability to stop using the agent (7). Addiction affects people of all ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.
In a 2014 study, 12.5% of the United States population suffered from alcohol addiction at some point in their lifetime and 2.6% of the population suffered from a drug addiction at some point in their life (Fleury et al, 204). This study also found that nearly 50% of those who had an addiction problem at some point in their life also had a mental disorder such as anxiety, depression or a personality disorder. Age is a very important factor. According to a study conducted by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (2013), nearly 25% of people age 18-25 use drugs regularly. Males tend to abuse drugs and alcohol more often than females. Drug use by race showed, Whites, 9.5%, African Americans, 10.5%, Hispanics 8.8% and Native Americans at 12.3%. As for level of education, there were only sight differences between those with a college degree, some college or high school. Only 9.1% of people who were employed had an addiction and 18.2% who were unemployed were abusing.
Generally statistics are very difficult to read when it comes to addiction. Personal ideas and definitions often skew surveys and responses that are gathered. Many people have multiple addictions or their habits may vary. The definition “addiction” is still debated among doctors,
psychologists and addition counselors. Many who may have had an addiction at one time have recovered and are living free from the addiction.
The financial costs of addiction are both personal and societal. A person with an addiction may no longer have the ability to work. They are in danger of losing their home and their possessions, they will probably lose their job if their performance has been erratic and inconsistent. The cost to business and employers that have an employee with an addiction is also great. The lost of production, the payment of sick days, and increases in workers’ compensation claims and unemployment insurance cost business billions every year Addiction is considered a medical condition and covered by medical leave of absence, coverage by health insurance companies for treatment. For addicts who do not have health insurance, there are many government programs that will assist and the recovery and rehabilitation process.
In the United States, it is estimated that substance abuse costs the government $484 billion dollars each year (National Institute on Drug Abuse). Diabetes costs society only $131 billion and cancer, $171 billion. These figures include health care costs, accidents, crime and courts.
Alcohol and drug impaired drivers accounted for 31% of all car accidents. Unfortunately, illegal or abused drug use is also on the rise in drunk driving cases. The United States government has spent $15 billion on the war against drugs while states kicked in another $25 million. The war is not working. Illegal drugs have become much easier to obtain and sell. May addicts are abusing prescription drugs. Alcohol is a completely legal and the leading choice of addicts.
Criminal activity associated with drugs is also at an all-time high. According to the Bureau of Justice, 18% of those incarcerated committed their crime to obtain money to buy drugs. In 2000,
14,831 homicides were committed due to the influence of drugs. Criminal activity and drug use has two sides: committing a crime to obtain drugs and selling or possessing drugs. In domestic violence cases nearly 80% of the attacker was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Women who are addicts also experience more cases of violence against them. Children who are neglected or abused in 60% of cases are the victim of an addict (drugs and/or alcohol).
The causes for addiction are very varied. The majority of alcoholics have at least one family member who is also alcoholic. Doctors also recognize that repeated use of a narcotic can develop into an addiction. The chemical begins to change the way neurons respond and this increases the desire of the addict to use again. Physically, as a person begins to increase their use, the body becomes more tolerant of the substance and more of the substance is required to achieve a “high”. The high is actually an increase in the release of dopamine in the brain. Mental disorders (anxiety, depression, bipolar), peer pressure, loneliness and gender (twice as many men as women become addicts) are all factors in developing an addiction. Addicts are generally very compartmentalized when it comes to their “drug of choice”. People who abuse cocaine have very different emotional and mental characteristics than a heroin addict. Each addict generally discovers a chemical that becomes their favorite after experimentation with several kinds (Sandra D., personal communication, 10 January 2015).
A study completed in 2013 with adolescents found family; physical/sexual abuse; emotional abuse; neglect; peer pressure; deviant social behaviors; ADHA and depression are all factors in contributing to addiction in adolescents. Family situations and interactions are among the strongest indicators. Abuse suffered at the hand of family members, whether physical or sexual is
a very important factor. Peer pressure and difficulty coping with deviant social situations such as gangs and bullying is another factor for teenagers (Whitesell, Bachand, Peel and Brown, 2-4).
An addict becomes quite adept at using and number of defense mechanisms for maintaining and justifying their use of the substance. Rationalization is a thought process whereby an addict offers an intelligent and seemingly perfect reason for using, “I am stressed out from work and need a drink to relax”. Denial is the refusal to admit that there is a substance abuse problem, “I don’t smoke that much pot, and it is not a problem for me.” Repression is the unconscious blocking of unpleasant memories, often addicts simply do not remember negative things they have done when they were using. Intellectualization is a cognitive process where a person divests from the emotions of a given situation and thinks on the facts of the situation. An opiate abuser may intellectualize his abuse of the prescribed medication by arguing that the medicine is prescribed by a medical doctor for a medical ailment. Projection is the process in which a person attributes feeling about themselves to another person. “He is an addict, he lost his job and went to rehab, and I do not have a problem.” (Grohol)
The problem of addiction has grown into epidemic proportions in the last twenty years. This disease affects people from all socioeconomic, educational and cultural backgrounds. The problem has serious repercussions for the family, business, government agencies, insurance companies. The negative effects of alcohol and drug addiction are seen daily in the courts, prisons, jails, hospitals and shelters. The factors that contribute to an addiction vary greatly, although family relationships and genetics has a very strong role. The use of defense mechanism by an addict aids in continuing to use the substance of choice. Addiction is a biological, mental and emotional disease that requires treatment of all three areas.


“Drug Crimes and Facts”. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved from:
Fleury, M, Grenier, G, Bamvita, J, Perrault, M & CarAn, J. (2014). Predictors of Alcohol and
Drug Dependence Canadian Journal of Psychology, 59(4), 203-212.
Grohol, J. (2007). 15 Common Defense Mechanisms. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 13,
2015, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/15-common-defense-mechanisms/0001251
Mackenzie Whitesell, Annette Bachand, Jennifer Peel, and Mark Brown, “Familial,
Social, and Individual Factors Contributing to Risk for Adolescent Substance Use,”
Manstead, A.R. & Hewstone, M. (1999), The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Social Psychology.
Oxford, UK. Blackwell.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved from:
Publication No. (SMA) 14-4863. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Services Administration, 2014.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Results from the 2013 National
Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings, NSDUH Series H-48, HHS

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