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SOC 2070 Chapter 8.docx

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University of Guelph
SOC 2070
Andrew Robinson

Deviant Behaviour Textbook: Chapter 8 Social Deviance Course Reader: "Trends in Cannabis, Cocaine, and Ecstasy use Among Ontario Adults, 1977-2003," CAMH Population Studies Course Manual: Corresponding Unit, Unit 07 Deviant Behaviour Textbook: Chapter 8 Illicit Drug Use - can look at drug use as deviant behaviour from both the positivist and constructionist perspectives From a positivist perspective… - the issue that needs explaining is why some people use illegal substances - some focus on individualistic explanations – such as biological or personality factors - others examine differences between and among people living in certain types of social and economical structures (different types of neighbourhoods, societies, social structures, cities versus small towns, etc.) - all take drug use as the dependent variable, as the variable that needs to be explained - examine the consequences of actions such as drug use - the appeal of drugs is partly a result of their effects  certain drugs are highly reinforcing; they activate and “hijack” pleasure centers in the brain  they are so rewarding, some scientists argue, that the user takes them repeatedly, becoming dependent, abandoning what was previously valued, such as family, school, job, and a home - background assumption to drug use that the objective consequences of the use of certain substances are so harmful that society wisely attempts to control or limit their use through law enforcement - (in other words) the condemnation of illicit use is a rational response to the very real and present danger such use poses From a constructionist perspective… - the constructionist raises questions such as the following: why are certain substances regarded as “drugs” while others aren’t? - the difference in the law of these many jurisdictions is not solely the threat or the harm or danger posed by the activity – that is pretty much the same everywhere – but political, ideological, economic, and cultural factors - in short, these laws are social constructions - the constructionist is interested in how these factors influence the law and condemnation of certain activities - even laws against and prosecution of murder, rape, and robbery, unarguably harmful acts with genuine victims, are constructed in a certain way for certain reasons The Social Construction of a Social Problem - drug use comes close to being a universal, both worldwide and throughout history - it is possible that the Inuit (or Eskimos), prior to the arrival of Europeans, are the only society on earth whose members did not use mind-altering substances - sometimes drug use is regarded as unacceptable to the society’s more conventional members: the wrong drug is taken; it is taken too often, or under the wrong circumstances; or it is taken with undesirable consequences - in such cases, we have instances of deviant behaviour - drug use, like every other existing endeavor or social condition, has a socially constructed or subjective dimension: the public’s feeling about it - drug use and abuse have an objective side: what drugs actually do to humans who use them, how widely and frequently they are used, and what kind of impact they have on the society - 1986 was the year that drug use and abuse fairly exploded as a social problem in the US (subjectively speaking) - September 1989 figure proved to be the pinnacle of public concern about drugs - According to the Gallup Polls, in the early 2000s, only 1 percent of the American public considers drug abuse the nation’s number one problem - Drugs are hugely overshadowed by the war in Iraq (30%), the economy (25%), and health care (12%) - In the late 1980s there was a period of intense public fear of and concern about drug use and abuse - A moral panic is an intense, widespread, explosively upsurging feeling on the part of the public that something is terribly wrong in their society - A category of people are “deviantized” - Moral panics and the fear of and concern about a given behaviour or condition do not emerge solely as a result of public awareness of an objective threat - Perhaps it is biased, in part, on the fact that the victims of illegal drugs are younger than the victims of alcohol and tobacco, and hence, far more years of life are lost per death - Perhaps the public has the feeling that drugs such as cocaine and narcotics are vastly more harmful on a dose-by-dose basis than is true of alcohol and tobacco - The fact remains, drugs kill 30 times as many Americans as illegal drugs, yet Americans are far more concerned about illegal drug abuse than about legal drugs - A drug is a substance with a significant effect on the functioning of the mind - To the general public, a drug is an illegal/illicit substance taken for the purpose of getting high or intoxicated - Within this definitional context, taking drugs is illegal, and to most of the public, deviant - Hence, drugs are medicinal, and/or psychoactive, and/or illegal - Using substances not authorized as medicine is regarded by physicians as deviant, a violation of the norms of the medical profession A Classification of Drugs and their Effects - Stimulants speed up signals passing through the central nervous system (CNS), that is, the brain and spinal column o Enable the user to feel more alert or awake o Examples: cocaine, amphetamine, Ritalin o Caffeine is also an example but it is so weak that most of us do not consider it a drug - Narcotics, or “narcotic analgesics,” diminish the brain’s perception of pain o Includes opiates – opium and its derivatives: morphine, heroin and codeine o Category also includes the various synthetic and semisynthetic narcotics, called opioids (or opium-like drugs), such as Percodan, dilaudid, methadone, meperidine (or Demerol), and oxycodone (including OxyContin) o In addition to their painkilling property, all narcotics are also physically addicting – they generate a physical dependency on regular, long-term use o Also, their effects include mental clouding and euphoria (this property causes people to use narcotics recreationally – for the purpose of getting high) - Unlike the narcotics, which have depressive effects principally on one bodily function – the perception of pain – sedatives or general depressants, while not effective painkillers have a depressive effect on a wide range of body organs and functions o Induce relaxation, inhibit anxiety, and at higher doses, result in sleep o Most well known is alcohol o Also, sedative-hypnotics such as barbiturates, methaqualone, GHB, tranquilizers (such as valium, Xanax, Librium, lorazepam, rohypnol o In high doses, general depressants induce mental clouding, drowsiness, physical dependence; overdose can produce unconsciousness, coma, even death - Hallucinogens (psychedelics) have effects on the CNS that cannot be reduced to a simple stimulation-depression continuum o These are drugs that induce profound sensory alterations o Includes LSD, peyote, mescaline, psilocybin or “magic mushrooms” (shrooms) o Principal effect is not to experience hallucinations but the extreme psychoactivity, a loosening of the imagination and an intensification of emotional states o Also includes PCP, ketamine (K) – produce drowsiness, discoordination, distorted sense of the reality of one’s physical surroundings, feeling of invulnerability o MDMA or ecstasy are often referred to as a hallucinogen but do not produce sensory alterations  These can be called “empathogens” – capable of inducing empathy, emotional identification with others  In animals, research indicates, the drug causes brain damage - Marijuana has been classified as a depressant, stimulant and a hallucinogen o Most observers say it belongs in a category to itself - alcohol is by far the society’s most popular recreational drug - most illegal drug use is marijuana use (p178) - hard to estimate drug consumption of heavy users of crack, heroin and meth, because of the problem of locating them – the figures for the hard drugs are almost certainly substantial underestimates - the use of nearly all illegal drugs declined substantially after the late 1970s - illegal drug use is not nearly as high as many sensational media stories claim - illicit drug use is considerably less widespread than the use of alcohol and tobacco - legal drugs tend to be used much more often on a continued basis, while illegal drugs tend to be used more infrequently, and are more likely to be given up after a period of time - the more legal the drug, the more loyal users are to it Marijuana Use as Deviance and Crime - marijuana, its possession, use, and sale, had become deviant once again - acceptance and tolerance of marijuana at the beginning of the twenty-first century was not as great as it was during the late 1970s to early 1980s, but clearly, it is significantly—and strikingly—greater than it was just a bit more than a decade ago Hallucinogenic Drugs - experiences take on an exaggerated emotional significance under the influence - moreover, huge emotional mood swings tend to dominate an “acid” trip - many users will experience synesthesia, or the translation of one sense into another—that is, “hearing” colour and “seeing” sounds - the early researchers on LSD thought the drug might be the key to unlock the secrets of mental illness, especially schizophrenia - LSD is an extremely weak mutagen or gene-altering agent, extremely unlikely to cause birth defects - In the 1960s, many critics and observers believed that LSD posed a major threat to American young people and possessed a uniquely deviant potential - LSD is simply not a drug that is taken very often or regularly—even among users Cocaine and Crack - cocaine is a stimulant—most commonly described effect is exhilaration, elation, euphoria, voluptuous, joyous feeling - in the 19 century, before its effects were fully understood, cocaine was used by physicians for a variety of ills, ailments, and complaints—first, to offset fatigue and depression; later, to cure morphine addiction - cocaine was even contained in many soft drinks, including Coca-Cola, until 1903, when it was removed because of pressure applied by “southerners who feared blacks getting cocaine in any form” - a major reason for the criminalization of cocaine, was racism - numerous articles published in the early 1900s made the claim that cocaine stimulated violence among blacks - practically all surveys show a decline in the use of cocaine in the general population over time since the late 1970s - what we see is something of a polarization in cocaine use, with the least involved (and least criminal and least deviant) user most likely to give up that drug, and the most involved (and most criminal and deviant) abuser least likely to abstain - Abusers who are most likely to harm themselves and victimize others are also most likely to stick with cocaine over an extended period of time - Snorting cocaine is slower, less efficient, less reinforcing, less intensely pleasurable than smoking it - 9/10 users will snort cocaine most of the time they use it - Crack is an impure crystalline precipitate that results from heating cocaine with baking soda; it contains only 30 percent or so cocaine - The difference between powdered cocaine and crack is mainly in route of administration, or the way users take these substances - Sensationalist exaggeration in the media accompanies its widespread use - Crack may be among the most reinforcing drugs known, and it is possible that a compulsive pattern of abuse builds more rapidly than for any other well-known, widely used drug - Babies whose mothers were exposed to crack and powdered cocaine during pregnancy, compared with those whose mothers were not exposed to the drug, are more likely to be born prematurely, have a lower birth weight, have smaller heads, suffer seizures, have genital and urinary-tract abnormalities, suffer poor motor ability, have brain lesions, and exhibit behavioural abberations such as impulsivity, moodiness, and lower responsiveness (p187) - 375 000 crack babies annually were being born in the US in the late 1980s— one of ten births! - Expectant mothers who use cocaine are more likely to get STIs; such mothers are less likely to eat a nutritious, balanced diet; get regular checkups; and so on - In short, it is likely that the crack babies issue was a hysteria-driven rather than a fact-driven syndrome Heroin and the Narcotics - heroin ranks lowest in popularity - only 1.5 percent of the American
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