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    Sociological Perspectives Dealing with Substance Abuse

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    Substance abuse is a huge part of society. People hear about or see the abuse of drugs all the time, on the new, social media, and in public. A functionalist would view substance abuse as a basic function for multiple different levels in society to survive and live. With substance abuse, there will be a lot of conflict because of people abusing prescription drugs. There is also symbolism used when it comes to substance abuse. Using these perspectives, it helps people understand substance abuse.

    The first sociological perspective is functionalism. This was originally made by Émile Durkheim. With this perspective, it shows society as multiple different parts that all are needed for something to function or work properly. An easy example of functionalism would be the human body or even a computer system. Everything in these systems is needed to function, if one thing is missing or goes out then the whole thing starts to shut down or have problems.

    When you look at functionalism and substance abuse it helps people understand the different parts it needs to function. It helps people who don’t abuse substances know how it works and functions. “Addiction is increasingly understood as a brain disease, many aspects of the problem that impinge on individual and community wellbeing are rooted in society, culture, and politics, and have changed over time” (Herzberg et al., 2016:408). Substance abuse helps a lot of people in society. It helps the people selling and making the drugs get the profit they need from it. It makes the user have the high or satisfaction they want out of it., and it is giving jobs to people like police officers who are trying to stop or control it. All of these are needed to make substance abuse a function in society.

    The second perspective is the conflict theory which was made by Karl Marks. This perspective states that there is some sort of conflict that has come about because of limited resources. This theory sees society as classes having to compete for what they need or want. What they could be competing for could be things they want, what they need to survive, or to be treated equally. No matter how well something is set up there will always be some sort of conflict.

    With substance abuse there is always conflict, this is because there are always people who have easier access to get the drugs or they need to sell it to make money. Where someone lives, his or her race, age, and background can all tie into why someone abuses substances or has easier access to them. When someone is missing something, gets something taken away, does not have the money, or is treated unequally it can tie into substance abuse because it causes a conflict. ‘Adolescence is the developmental period known for experimentation. Boredom, peer pressure, and curiosity are known culprits in the onset of substance abuse in adolescence. At-risk youth without a resilient constitution fall prey to the prolific environmental influences that saturate communities across the United States” (Taylor, 2014:306). This quote shows that kids have an easier access to substance abuse because of everything around them. Kids aren’t the only ones who go through all of that, adults can and normally do too. There is a lot of conflict with substance abuse because there is always something missing or something that pushes you to it.

    The final perspective is symbolic interactionism. This was created by George Herbert Mead. This perspective deals a lot with how people interact with each other every day. Symbolic interactionism looks at objects, behaviors, and symbols. This is very important because it helps to provide an explanation for things we experience. An example of this perspective would be hand gestures, one person’s interpretation of a hand gesture will differ from someone else.

    Substance abuse deals with symbolic interactionism because the drug use normally happens from someone dealing with someone who already uses it. When someone goes through someone who has already used, he or she learns everything he or she needs to, the equipment, how to use it, how people react to it, and the best places to get it. “Opiate use was most common among men who had grown up in large US cities, were less well educated and had family histories of drug use, crime, and delinquency” (Hall and Weier, 2016:177). This quote shows that people who are around it or live with people who have had the abuse before are more likely to do it because they have already been in a way a part of it, they have interacted with it. People having that interaction makes it easier for them to abuse substances.

    In conclusion, it is easy to see that these three perspectives help analyze society easier. Functionalism helps to show how everything is tied together basically the system of how people get the drugs. Conflict theory helps people understand why others abuse substances and how they get to that point. These could not be as strong without symbolic interactionism because it helps give the symbols that makeup substance abuse. All these perspectives are needed to fully understand society.

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    Sociological Perspectives Dealing with Substance Abuse. (2022, May 12). Retrieved from

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