The Crisis of Drug Addiction


Drug use is an act that has been seen among citizens, especially the youthful generation in many countries. It is a problem that is caused by a number of factors, among them being sociocultural factors, as well as the economic factors surrounding the drug users. Heavy use of drugs leads to drug addiction.

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Drug addiction is a problem that requires special attention, as it has negative ramifications for the user, both in the short-run and in the long-run (Lake, 2007). For instance, its financial implications are far above the value realized from the drugs, if any. Drug abuse has been associated with a number of criminal acts, where it is said to be the genesis and the major factor contributing to these crimes.

However, users of drugs have some defense mechanisms that they use to support their habit, thus they continue with substance abuse (Miller, 2010). This essay will focus on the crisis of drug addiction in general. It will also include some factors that lead to drug abuse. The paper will cover the dynamics of drug addiction in the United States of America.

Sociocultural Determinants of substance abuse

There is a whole list of reasons why people use drugs, but the reasons vary from individual to individual. While the initial indulgence in drugs may be out of ignorance, many are the times when it leads the users into problems they find hard getting out.

Among the reasons why people use drugs include fun, leisure, as a way of coping with problems, and as an escape from life realities. People also use drugs to cope with dull emotions and physical pain. According to Lake (2007), determinants of drug abuse could be biological, psychological, environmental, genetic, or sociocultural in nature.

The sociocultural determinants of substance abuse could be peer pressure, gender, social networks, age, and ethnicity. Peer pressure and social networks are the major determinants of drug abuse. They are closely related to age, as young people, especially the adolescents, influence each other into drug abuse (Lake, 2007). The male gender is more into drug abuse compared to the female gender. Race and ethnicity are not major determinants of drug abuse, although they contribute in some cases of drug abuse.

Indirect and direct financial costs

The financial implications of substance abuse cannot be underestimated. First, it is imperative to note that drugs are expensive, regardless of the type of drug one uses. Although the term expensive could be relative in this case, the implications are the same in the long run. Drug use leads to financial difficulties (Meara & Frank, 2006).

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The direct financial costs may include the purchase of drugs. After addiction, a victim who wishes to recover will spend money on treatment and rehabilitation. The indirect costs may include loss of money making opportunities due to drug addiction. For instance, loss of a job or a business opportunity may represent indirect financial costs. The following is a graph showing the financial costs of drug abuse in the United States.

following is a graph showing the financial costs of drug abuse in the United States
Source: (NIDA, n.d.)

Psychological and physical costs

The psychological costs of drug addiction are also evident in most cases. Drug addicts will normally suffer from distress and mental problems. They may lead a life of desperation, especially after realizing what they lost in life as a result of their indulgence in drugs. Physical costs, on the other hand, will include injuring themselves when high on drugs (Lowinson, 2005). The injuries may be sustained consciously, where the users injure their bodies willingly, or unconsciously, where they may fall or hit objects when high on drugs.

Many of the crimes that have occurred in the United States have been caused by people who are on drugs. However, this is not the case in all criminal cases, but the biggest percentage of these crimes is as a result of drug abuse. People kill themselves due to drug addiction.

They also kill others. Drug abuse also affects interpersonal relationships because drug users cannot relate well with sober people. Road accidents can be caused by people who are on drugs. Consumption of drugs impairs one’s judgment. Therefore, operating machines under the influence of drugs will likely lead to an accident (Lowinson, 2005).

Dynamics of addiction

Denial: The urge to take drugs, especially when one is addicted becomes very strong, such that the victim will always deny that they are addicted (Weegmann & Cohen, 2008). The victims fail to accept the fact that drug abuse is a problem to them. This makes it difficult for them to change the behavior, and they are likely to take even larger amounts of the drug.

Displacement: This is where one may unconsciously substitute the drug they use currently with another drug that they may view as less harmful, upon the realization that the current drug is a dangerous substance (Weegmann & Cohen, 2008). It is an unconscious defense mechanism.

Rationalization: When one becomes addicted to drugs, they find it hard to accept the rationale that they are in a problem that needs to be addressed (Weegmann & Cohen, 2008). Drugs impair their rationality and they may continue with the abuse, as it will seem okay for them.

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Fantasy: Drug users may live in a fictional world, where they find themselves in a supernatural phenomenon that seems good to them (Weegmann & Cohen, 2008). They find themselves having a happy life with drugs, thus they do not abandon drug abuse.

Intellectualization: This is a defense mechanism, whereby the drug user opposes confrontation through reasoning. In this mechanism, thinking suppresses feeling (Weegmann & Cohen, 2008). Drug addicts will think that drugs are good and avoid the feeling that they have a problem.


Lake, J. (2007). Textbook of integrative mental health care. New York, NY: Thieme.

Lowinson, J. H. (2005). Substance abuse: A comprehensive textbook. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

Meara, E., & Frank, R. G. (2006). Spending on substance abuse treatment: How much is enough? National Institute of Health, 100(9), 1240-1248

Miller, G. (2010). Learning the language of addiction counseling. Hoboken, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

NIDA (n.d.) Drug abuse is costly. National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Weegmann, M., & Cohen, M. (2008). The psychodynamics of addiction. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons.

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