SOCIAL DEVIANCE: CHAPTER 8: ILLICIT DRUG USE
Positivist: ask why do they do it? > All explanations seek to reveal the causes
of drug abuse. Have a structure/form: Factor A (the explanatory or
independent variable) causes outcome B (drug use, the dependent variable).
Examine consequences of their actions.
Constructionist: why is the use of certain substances regarded as deviant?
Interested in how social constructions influence the law and condemnation of
THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF A SOCIAL PROBLEM
Drugs are most often used in a culturally appropriate and approved manner.
Socially constructed or subjective dimension.
Has an objective side: the harm drugs do to humans.
When examining drug use subjective and objective sides need to be kept
separated from one‟s mind.
1940-50s: marijuana use and its horrors.
1960s: LDS‟s > make people go crazy.
1970‟s: heroin stormed newspaper headlines.
1980‟s: A rebirth – an explosion of public concern over illegal drugs > „drug
scare‟, „moral panic‟.
Sub-population was defined= “Folk Devil” (Cohen).
Legal drugs kill 30 times as many Americans as illegal drugs.
WHAT IS DRUG USE?
Some definitions are themselves forms of deviance while the use of others
may cause or be associated with deviance.
Dictionary: drug is a medicine or any other substance used in the treatments
A substance with a significant effect on the functioning of the mind.
General Public: an illegal or illicit substance taken for the purpose of getting
high or intoxicated.
A CLASSIFICATION OF DRUGS AND THEIR EFFECTS
Stimulants: speed op signals passing through the CNS > more alert and
awake > cocaine, amphetamine, Ritalin.
Narcotics: diminish the brain‟s perception of the brain > opiates; opium,
morphine, heroin and codeine.
Sedatives or general depressants: depressive effect on organs and functions
> alcohol, roofies.
Hallucinogens: effects CNS > induce sensory alterations > LSD, magic
mushrooms, mescaline and peyote > a loosening of the imagination and an intensification of emotional states. PCP (angel dust) was originally a horse
tranquiliser. Ketamine (special K) is a milder version of PCP. These drugs
produce drowsiness, discoordination and distorted sense of reality.
MDMA or Ecstasy: sometimes referred to as a hallucinogen but is an
„empathogen‟ as it induces empathy.
Marijuana: depressant, stimulant, hallucinogen. Now in a category by itself >
most frequently used illegal drug in America.
Salvia: a Mexican herb that was legal until one death so is criminalized in
Delaware as Brett‟s Law.
Qualludes: Club drug that makes people feel they are in love.
Late 1970s: Use of nearly all illegal drugs declined substantially.
GHB: „date rape‟ drug. It‟s colourless, odourless and tasteless.
Rohypnol: „date rape‟ drug. A relaxant and used to treat narcolepsy.
Illegal drug use is not nearly as high as many sensational media stories claim.
Illegal drug use is considerably less widespread than the use of alcohol and
Legal drugs tend to be used much more often on a continued basis. Illegal
drugs are used more infrequently.
MARIJUANA USE IN THE US (1960-2007)
1960s: Few Americans used illegal drugs > 1% in youths, 5% in young adults.
1967: Figures quadrupled > 5% in youths, 15% in young adults.
1967-1970: Marijuana use increased and peaked in 1979.
1990: Rose again.
2007: Declined > 6.7% young people and 5.8% for the population as a whole.
MARIJUANA USE AS DEVIANCE AND CRIME
1920s: Few Americans had even heard about Marijuana > thought it was a
1930s: Was dubbed the „killer weed‟ „green monster‟ „sex-crazing drug
1937: Laws criminalizing its possession and sale were passed in every state
and at a federal level as well.
1960: Popularity dramatically increased > use increased.
1970: Attitudes softened 11 states in the US decriminalized the possession of
1990s: Use now seen as more deviant. Use declined.
2000s: The decriminalization movement is back.
HALLUCINOGENIC DRUGS 1960s: Hallucinogenic drugs were referred to as „psychedelics‟ implied the
mind is „made manifest‟ > more perceptive than ordinarily – under the
Early researchers thought LSD might