Social and Cultural Ramifications of Substance Abuse


Socialand Cultural Ramifications of Substance Abuse

Socialand Cultural Ramifications of Substance Abuse

Substanceabuse is the habit of overindulging on an addictive substance to thelevel of being dependent on its use. The most common substances thatare abused are drugs and alcohol. All drugs of abuse are addictiveand lead to several health and social consequences. According toLowinson(2006), all types of addictive beverages and alcohol are termed to besubstances of abuse because users are forced to use them to operatenormally. Substance abuse has diverse ramifications to the user andto the society in terms of consequences and the cost of correctingthe damages. The discussion in this paper focuses on the social andcultural ramifications of substance abuse in the society. In thisregard, the discussion will include the theories related to thetreatment and the cultural considerations.

Oneof the social ramifications of substance abuse is the loss of youngpeople with the scourge. Young people who indulge in the use of drugend up being unproductive in the society and lose their potency todrug abuse. The abuse of drugs and the use of other addictivesubstances lead to the failure of young people to discover theirability to engage in productive activities in the society (Shaw,2005). In addition the young people waste their time in drug takingactivities instead of attending to work or productive societalactivities. In this regard, the society loses the contribution of asection of the population that should be improving their lives andthose of the others.

Anothersocial ramification touches on education. Substances of abuse have anegative impact on the education system and education levels in thesociety. When people engage in drug abuse and other substances ofabuse, they lose their perspective towards education. According toIsralowitz(2004), most of the people whoengage in drugs start the habit at a young school age. Instead ofattending school, young people engage in drugs and lose their valuetowards education. They feel that the only important thing in theirlives is the addictive substance, and not anything beneficial. As aresult, the levels of education in the society have reduced and thepopulation is suffering the lack of energetic manpower.

Thedeath of people from the abuse of drugs leads to loss of importantfamily members. This leads to social gaps in families and societies,such as families and communities without fathers, brothers, sistersand mums. Therefore, they leave a challenge of taking care of thefamilies they leave or children they leave behind. In addition, theuse of substances of abuse leads to economic effects for the societydue to the loss of potential people in the society to drug abuse.Addiction to drug abuse leads to death in the cases of extreme abusewith treatment or intervention. According to Shaw (2002), thiseliminates such people from the society, thereby losing the economicvalue they could have made to the society. The abuse of drugs leadsto addiction to the substances and dependence on their effects. Thiseliminates the addicted people from the workforce, thereby losingtheir economic value in the society.

Becauseof drug abuse, victims lose their respect to the cultural andreligious beliefs and ethics. When people engage in drug abuse, theirthinking is controlled by the addictive substances, leading to a lackof ethics and general conduct (Shaw, 2002). As a result, the respectfor the social norms and morals of the society is lost. The lossleads to the raising of the people who are not aligned with theculture or social norms of the society and the community. As acultural ramification of drug abuse, the lack of respect to norms andmorals leads to disrespect of the law.

Inaddition, crime rates in the society increase due to substance abuse.People who engage in substance abuse are controlled by the addictionand make their decisions based on the dictations by the addictivesubstances. According toIsralowitz (2004), drugs of abusetend to control the actions of the users by taking them to a state ofeuphoria. Lowinson(2005) argues that people who abuse drugs enter into a state of mindthat has no respect for the law as they view every action they do asjustified and right in their own way. Therefore, abuse of theaddictive substances leads to increased crime as the addicts seek tosatisfy their euphoria of quick riches. According to Segal (2014),addicts also engage in crime so as to get money to buy drugsespecially when they are not earning. In this case, most young peoplewho are not employed to engage in crime to get quick income to fundtheir drug abuse habits.

Theoriesassociated with Treatment

Treatmentof the people with addiction to substances of abuse attractsapplication of four main theories that focus on the behavior andimpact of different social groups. These theories are theSocioculturaltheories, the Subcultural theories and the Supracultural theories(Lowinson, 2005).

Socioculturaltheories are based on the observation and comparison of the reasonswhy different social groups engage in substance abuse. According toLowinson(2005),sociocultural theories help understand the social context thatdetermines the effects of the drugs, related behavior and drugdefinitions and descriptions. Moreover, sociocultural theories helpto understand the environmental factors that influence the drug abusebehavior. Therefore, to successfully treat people addicted to drugs,it is important to understand the reasons why they engage in drugsand differentiate them from other drug users.

Subculturaltheories focus on the differences among the people in the samecultural and social context of the same population. The understandingof this context helps the treatment of the drug addicts because itreveals the physical, biological and personal factors behind theabuse of drugs (Lowinson,2005).For instance, the understanding helps to understand the differencesbetween gender in a population in terms of abusing drugs and engagingin alcoholism. The supracultural theories, on the other hand focus onthe relationship between the social organization, culture and thedrug abuse behavior (Segal,2014).Through the application of supracultural theories, it is effective tounderstand the reasons for the behavior as it relates to the specificculture or social grouping. In this regard, a person is able to knowhow to treat the people involved in drug abuse from that cultural setup.


Substanceabuse is caused by several factors including social and culturaldynamics of the society. The abuse of addictive substances leads tosocial loss of life and economic consequences of losing theproductive members of the society. In addition, substance abuse leadsto uncultured people who have no respect for the social norms andengage in crime due to the direction by the addictive substances. Totreat victims of substance abuse, it is important to understand andapply the appropriate social theories. Through the social theories,it is easier to understand the reasons for the abuse and factorsbehind the addictive behavior.


Isralowitz,R. (2004).&nbspDruguse: a reference handbook.Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO Publishers

Lowinson,J.H. (2005).&nbspSubstanceAbuse: A Comprehensive Textbook.Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams &amp Wilkins

Segal,B. (2014). Perspectiveson Drug Use in the United States.London: Routledge

Shaw,V. (2002). SubstanceUse and Abuse: Sociological Perspectives.Santa Barbara, Ca: Greenwood Publishing Group