Chemical Dependence in the United States


Substance use is an illegal industry that has cost the United States billions of dollars. Money that is meant for developmental projects is used to pay hospital bills and losses that are caused by drug abusers. Nonetheless, various factors drive individuals to misuse of drugs. Continuous use of drugs leads to development of a habit. Eventually, this state of affairs leads to addiction or a phase of chemical dependence. At this level, the use of drugs becomes a crisis and the individual experiences severe financial, social, and/or physical effects. This essay provides an overview of chemical dependence by examining the implications of substance abuse and dynamics of addiction amongst individuals in the United States.

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Substance Abuse and its Implications

Socio-cultural factors are the main causes of substance abuse in the United States. For instance, peer pressure has influenced many youths to engage in the use of certain drugs such as bhang, marijuana, and cocaine. Indeed, most teenagers are easily persuaded by their friends to indulge in drug use (Deborah, Miller, Spicer, & Waehrer, 2007). According to Kim et al. (2012), the cultures of some neighborhoods are responsible for the high prevalence of substance abuse in specific areas.

Substance use practices that have been adopted for many years are easily transferred to new generations. The elderly people who are supposed to guide the young generation perceive substance use as a norm rather than abuse. For instance, some families in the United States are fully engaged in drug abuse.

This state of affairs implies that children are exposed to substance abuse even before they attain the age of 10 years. A national survey that was conducted by Kim et al. (2012) revealed that over 180,000 Americans whose ages are above 12 years had used hallucinogens and dissociative drugs between November and December in 2012. This statistics show how the abuse of substance is widespread in the United States.

Will (2012) posits that drug abuse is not an exception when it comes to incurrence of financial costs. Over the last 30 years, on the average, 1 out of every 100 dollars that are spend on consumer products is spend on alcohol. Drugs such as cocaine and heroin are very expensive. With many new drugs being made each day, the amount that is spend on drugs has risen to over 10 dollars in every 100 dollars that are spend on consumer products.

The financial costs of addiction are both direct and indirect. Joblessness is one of the indirect costs that lead to stress and incurrence of psychological costs. In addition, the person incurs physical costs such as deterioration of health due to the harm that is caused by the intake of drugs.

The correlation of substance abuse with crime is high. The abuse of drugs impairs rational thinking. This situation is a crucial ingredient for committing crime. Various studies reveal that drug addicts who are usually high on cocaine, heroin, and/or bhang commit the most hardnosed robberies (Verster, 2012).

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Similarly, alcohol is one of the main causes of accidents on the road. Addiction tends to strain interpersonal relationships between victims and people who are close to them. People who are under the influence of drugs commit many homicide cases. Suicidal thoughts are also highest among drug abusers (Deborah et al., 2007)

Dynamics of Addiction

Substance use can be classified as recreational whereby users control the extent and time of drug use. People who are addicted tend to develop certain ways that serve as defense mechanisms to justify their states of addiction. One of such defense mechanisms is denial (Northoff, Bermpohl, Schoeneich, & Boeker, 2007). In this case, users fail to accept or are unaware that they have problems that need immediate solutions.

Projection is another mechanism that is used by addicts to show that other people have bigger problems than theirs in an attempt to prove to themselves that they are not in a very bad situation. In addition, addicts use intellectualization as a defense mechanism. They justify their actions using logics to show that a normal person does everything that they have done. Therefore, they put forth claims that they are not addicts.

Other addicts use rationalization to attest that they do not abuse the drug on daily basis; hence, they do not qualify to be addicts. However, some addicts understand their addict levels (Will, 2012). Nonetheless, they cannot come in terms with their situations. As a result, they use displacement defense mechanism by blaming something else for their problems in an attempt to resolve their frustrations.


The correlation of drug use with addiction is still high amongst the Americans regardless of the effortless steps that have been taken by the government to alleviate the situation. It is evident that the United States has run into huge costs owing to the kind of investment that the government has done in eradication of drug and substance abuse.

There is a need to sensitize people to both positive and negative effects of drugs at all levels of education. The Congress should also pass and implement distinct law enforcements to regulate the usage and proliferation of drugs amongst the Americans.

Reference List

Deborah, M., Miller, T., Spicer, R., & Waehrer, G. (2007). Substance Abuse and the Uninsured Worker in the United States. Journal of Public Health Policy, 28(1), 102-17.

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Kim, H., Smith, E., Stano, C., Ganoczy, D., Zivin, K., Walters, H., & Valenstein, M. (2012).

Validation of key behaviorally based mental health diagnoses in administrative data: Suicide attempt, alcohol abuse, illicit drug abuse and tobacco use. BMC Health Services Research, 12(18), 1-9.

Northoff, G., Bermpohl, F., Schoeneich, F., & Boeker, H. (2007). How does our brain constitute defense mechanisms? First-Person Neuroscience and Psychoanalysis. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 76(3), 141-53.

Verster, J. (2012). Drug Abuse and Addiction in Medical Illness: Causes, Consequences and Treatment. New York, NY: Springer.

Will, G. (2012). The Drug Legalization Dilemma: Counting the costs of America’s war on drugs.

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