Drugs: causes, consequences, users 2
Drug addict categories and drug taking motives 3
Drug effects and consequences 4
What are drugs? 6
How many young women/teenagers are affected by drug abuse today? 8
What are signs of drug addiction? 8
How to stay drug-free all the time? 10
How to quit using drugs? 10
Which drugs are dangerous? 10
Which drugs are against the law? 11
What about kids and drugs? 11
What if you are caught with drugs? 11
Why Children Use Drugs 14
Why do young people take drugs? 14
Drugs: causes, consequences, users
Mankind has been familiar with drugs since very early times. Drugs were first of all related to every day or religious customs and traditions in the areas where the narcotic plants grow. It is these regions – South-eastern Asia (opium poppy), South America (cocaine), Near East, Central Asia, South and North America, North Africa, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India (cannabis) – that became primary drug consumption centres.
In Oriental culture drugs has always been a part of tradition, especially religious rituals, while in Western culture it is quite a new social phenomenon. A speedy spread of drugs in Europe during the sixties of the twentieth century were connected with the culture of “flower generation” when peace, love, harmony and cannabis smoke could be felt in the air. Heroine became popular in the seventies. Today drugs are the urgent social problem both in Europe and the USA.
Lithuania has no deep drug traditions. Poppies, cannabis were used as plants in culinary and the names of them can be found in Lithuanian folklore. Today we have nearly forgotten this and the first thought that comes to our minds after the names of the plants are mentioned is drugs. In recent years not only poppies or cannabis, but amphetamines, LSD, “ecstasy”, heroine and cocaine have also become popular in Lithuania.
People using drugs are united by a certain life style, pastime activities, clothes, relationships, value system. However, the statement that all drug addicts lead the same life style is far beyond the truth. It partly depends on the drug addicts’ category that a particular person belongs to. Take, for instance, young people who are using LSD, “ecstasy” and listening to modern techno or rave music in their parties, they usually stand out only by their appearance. Vilnius old town drug addicts who smoke “grass” are absolutely different in their clothes or value system. If the previous are tend to be conformist, the latter, on the contrary, try to be different.
Drug addict categories and drug taking motives
It is impossible to explain the drug phenomenon plainly, seeing that there exist a great variety of reasons, a wide assortment of drugs, different ways and rates of using them and other factors. Speaking of drug taking motives it is useful to distinguish certain groups. Drug addicts can be differentiated between “adults” (the average age is 24) and “teenagers”. According to the rate of drug consumption another two groups – “experimenters” and “permanent users” can be singled out. The categories are interrelated with each other – “experimenters” are usually young people. On the other hand, the research carried out in Scandinavian countries in 1987-1991, showed that the experimental drug usage is becoming more and more popular among elderly people, possessing a high social position.
The causes of drug taking have been investigated since the middle of the nineteenth century, but the general conception has not been formed yet. Literature presents a variety of motives for drug taking: the possibility to “push real problems aside” and experience a feeling of happiness, emotional discomfort, generation gap, young people protests against existing norms, curiosity, unfavorable family conditions, disharmony, inability to bring one’s plans into being, high requirements, group influence, personal psychopathic qualities, drug availability, cultural tradition, ignorance of drug taking consequences.
There are macro and micro causes of drug taking. Macro causes are new social economic conditions. As an American sociologist, R.Merton sees it, drugs in the same way as alcoholism and idleness is a form of social adaptation after a person had experienced a failure and refused his/her social ambitions. It is very near to Lithuanian situation. A considerable part of Lithuanian people have experienced failure as they had not created a strategy suitable for new social-economic conditions. The process of social-economic change is always followed by various deviations. A general reason for marginal group appearance is the chaotic society shift towards a new social-economic and political system which is not clearly defined.
Micro reasons depend on the category that a drug addict belongs to. The motivation of adults using drugs is a search for euphoria. Grown-up people use drugs to “run away from” their problems. In Oriental culture the feeling brought about by drugs, especially if it is a moment of religious ritual, is included into the whole personal experience, given sense and thus becomes a part of reality. Western people, in their turn, use drugs to escape unpleasant and difficult reality. The feeling brought about in this particular way is not taken into the context of the whole human experience and may become a
pretext for new escapes from a difficult human experience.
Why do young people use drugs? There may be a lot of reasons for that: they have no occupation, they are bored; their friends use drugs; they like taking risks; they want to shock their friends and parents; they want to have style; they try to escape the present life and personal problems; the drugs are easily available; they love “that” feeling. Young people often use drugs as a kind of protest against the adult world. No wonder most of the people experimenting with drugs belong to a 14-17 year-old age group as people particularly in teenage years want to be independent from parents, have their “own” views and values, drug taking is one of the ways to demonstrate this. Curiosity is one of the basic motives to use drugs. Uncritical thinking, the desire to experience pleasure “now and here”, authority denial, and curiosity, wish to become independent, finally, inability to foresee the real consequences of drug using is typical of teenagers. The peculiarity of teenage socialization is to act after the fashion and to imitate friends. Friends play a considerable role at the very beginning of drug taking. Drugs are most often offered by friends or friends’ friends. The first time is usually initiated by others. Drugs among teenagers are taken as help, because people of that age most often face conflicts at school, in the family or the like. The psychosomatic discomfort is expected to be eliminated by the help of drugs. It has been proved that the very early drug taking is determined not by the addicts themselves, but by their parents’ social destabilization.
The previously analyzed macro and micro levels are very closely interlinked: children using drugs is a reaction to parents’ failures which have been caused by the change of social-economic conditions. A large part of the parents are intelligent people. Therefore their children face a difficult dilemma: either to refuse the values that had been promoted by their parents (for example, high education) or choose the value in the know that they will not bring any social success, as it was the case with their parents.
Drug effects and consequences
Different drugs have different effects and consequences. Drugs have both micro (psychological and physical) and macro (social) consequences.
Micro level consequences depend on the nature of the drugs: