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Drug Abuse as a Social Problem: A Look at the Conflict and Functi...

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Drug Abuse as a Social Problem: A Look at the Conflict and Functionalist Perspectives

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  • April 13, 2006
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Drugs have been around for thousands of years. "A drug is any chemical that produces a therapeutic or non-therapeutic effect in the body (Drugs and Teen Substance Abuse 2000.)" Most drugs were first used for medicinal purposes, such as marijuana. Active substances were not extracted into drugs until the 19th century. Newly discovered substances like morphine, laudanum, and cocaine were completely unregulated and prescribed freely by physicians for a wide variety of ailments. Wounded veterans returned home with their kits of morphine and hypodermic needles (History of Drug Abuse, n.d.) The use of illegal drugs is increasing, especially among young teens. The conflict theory of social problems states that, "society is marked by conflict due to inequalities in class, race, ethnicity, gender, age, and other divisions that produce conflicting ideas (Kornblum and Julian, 2004, 7.)" Solutions to solve social problems include building stronger movements in conflicted groups and then possibly engaging in negotiations to reach accommodations. The functionalist approach to social problems, "views society as a vast organism whose parts are interrelated (Kornblum and Julian, 2004, 7.)" Functionalists believe that institutions produce patterns of deviance and they must be addressed through well-calculated social reformations. Solutions include engaging in research and interventions to improve these social institutions. There are many ideas between the conflict and functionalist perspectives on how to remedy the wide-spread social problem of drug abuse.

Substance abuse can simply be defined as, "a pattern of harmful use of any substances for mood-altering purposes (What Is Substance Abuse, n.d.)" As culture and customs change, so do the major categories of illegal drugs. The most commonly abused drugs today, in addition to alcohol, are marijuana, cocaine, opiates (including heroin and morphine), hallucinogens, amphetamines, and barbiturates. Some young people are again...