Hey everyone! This is my first round of research for my first cycle this year and it feels great to be researching again. For those who are new to reading my posts this cycle, my question is...
Does socially accepting drug addiction affect its usage among consumers positively or negatively?
Like I said in my project plan, this round will be heavily focused on giving an in-depth introduction to my subject. I will be explaining what drug addiction is, what I mean when I say "drug addiction", and talking about the stigma of addiction.
So, let's get started!
What is drug addiction?
Drug addiction. I'm sure most of you have heard of this term; but, what does it really mean to be addicted? What is considered to be a drug? Keep reading to find out.
Addiction is described as a chronic disease distinguished by the compulsivity of seeking drugs. Addiction happens where the urges are very difficult to control, so the user continues despite harmful consequences. Although the initial use of drugs is usually voluntary, repeated drug use causes the brain to change to the point where an addicted person may lose self-control and their ability to resist. Drug addiction is also considered to be a "relapsing" disease because these brain changes can be extremely persistent. Even those who have recovered from their addiction for many years are at risk for returning to drug use. (1)
Our brains are neuroplastic. This means that it can change over time. Above, you can see how much more brain activity a healthy brain has compared to an addicted brain. Although the effects are dire, the brain may also be reversed if caught early enough. (2)
But, what is considered to be a drug? Or maybe a more pertinent question would be, what am I considering to be a drug for my cycle? In a general sense, a drug is any chemical that affects the way in which your body functions. Based on this definition, anything from cocaine to caffeine is a drug. However, for my research, I will be focusing on narcotics, hallucinogens, and recreational drugs (such as marijuana). These types of drugs affect the central nervous system and are may be used for perceived desirable effects on one's personality, behaviour or perception. (3)(4)
Here are some examples of some drugs I will be focusing on:
What is social acceptance?
This is another term I'm sure many of you have heard of before. However, are you sure you know what it means? Well, if you don't, you're in luck. Keep reading, and you will find out.
A very big aspect of the human condition is the need to be loved, liked and included. This want is hardwired into our brains. As humans, we want to fit in. Ironically enough, many people start using drugs in order to fulfil this feeling. Another way of stating this is peer pressure. Simply put, social acceptance is synonymous with fitting in. However, I am using this term in a bit of a different way for my research. What I mean by social acceptance is a concept without stigma. Or in my case, drug addiction without stigma. In other words, what would it look like if there were no negative - or positive - connotations with drug use/addiction. What if no one turned their noses at addicts on the street? What if those who are heavily affected by their addiction are encouraged to receive the help they need by society instead of being looked down upon? (5)
This is what I am trying to find out with my research. Hopefully, this cleared some things up.
The stigma around addiction
Above, I mentioned the stigma around drug addiction. Stigma is something I personally find very interesting as it truly reveals how we function as a society. It is something very "surface level" but can transform into a very deep insight into the crooks and nannies of humankind if you think about it long enough.
According to the Drug Rehab website, out of 709 survey responses, only 22% of people would work with someone who has a substance abuse disorder and 64% of people believe it should be okay to fire someone for having a substance abuse disorder. If you ask me, the main reason why these numbers are so extreme is not that the survey-takers are horrible people but because generally, we are very uneducated about substance abuse disorders and those who suffer from them. Misconceptions about drug addiction and use cause major healthcare problems for individuals and our society. In fact, "a 2007 study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse found that 37 percent of college students avoided seeking help for addiction because they feared social stigma." (6)(7)
I will be researching more about how this stigma will be affected if drug abuse is socially accepted in my next round of research. It is in this round where I will be referencing Portugal's decriminalization of drugs and the effects that they have witnessed so far. I will also be looking to see if any other countries or cities have done anything similar and what their outcomes have been.
I hope you all learned something new from my research and enjoyed reading. Please feel free to leave any questions or comments. Thank you for reading my first round of this year!