In Western And Non Western Societies Criminology Essay


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Ultimately, by modifying the controlled use of drugs allows users to function within society and reduce the harmful drug effects. For that reason, the need for harm reduction strategies must be regulated through the use of social controls (Yuet W, 2000 ). However, it must also be recongised that not all means will be effective as rules may be broken thus sanctions and rituals are a few examples which socially aide in the controlling of the drug users setting (Du Toit, 1977). In addition, such tasks involving drug abuse and addiction can result in negative consequences including disease or possibly death; hence it's important to consider the reasons behind why harm minimization strategies need to exist. According to Zinberg, in order to aid in the control of harm minimization and prevention of drug abuse, three determinants must be regarded in order to understand the effects of illicit drugs on a user. These determinants are known as "drug, set and setting" (Zinberg, 1984, p.15). Where the 'drug' is known as the pharmacologic action, the set as the 'users characteristics', and the setting as the influence of the physical and social environment of which the drug use takes place (Yuet W, 2000).

Essentially, such measures play a vital role in preventing public health concerns; for example, the sharing of needles amongst drug users has led to a world health epidemic causing spread of diseases including hepatitis and aids (Moore, 1993). As a result, the consequences of drug usage can be minimised via the implementation of secure procedures including the storage, handling, purchasing and selling of the drugs. For example, trained practitioners, like doctors, have authority to administer drugs (Duff, 2004). Also drug manufacturers must follow strict guidelines, especially when selling drugs to approved purchases such as doctors, or pharmaceuticals. Places such as chemists, hospitals or clinics follow guidelines of the law when storing drugs such as antibiotics to be stored behind the counter, paracetamol to be placed on the shelf and morphine to be secured away (Duff, 2004).

In essence, social sanctions are both rituals and rules of conduct used within any use of a drug. These social sanctions shelter together formal and informal use of social control, thus four easy steps must be ordered in the event of a social ritual, as it helps to strengthen and symbolise the sanctions (Zinberg, 1984). These steps include, procuring and the administering of the drug, selection of a physical and social setting, activities undertaken post the drug usage and lastly preventing unexpected drug effect (Moore, 1993). Fundamentally, these techniques are associated with patterns of controlling harm minimization amongst drug user. In fact, what is important about these social ritual techniques is the socialisation process gained throughout the experience and the effective component of control achieved from the drug usage. For example, in Indian societies drug assumption requires strict ritualistic processes (Dobkin de Rios, 1977). In these societies, there must be a reason for its consumption and during its natural format careful preparation is taken into account, from cutting the plant to preparing the drugs (Dobkin de Rios, 1977). Generally, this preparation is mainly for positive usage and under this framework limited negative effects is gained. Furthermore, at Wallaby Cross in Aboriginal Camp, social control and restrictions on alcohol is used in Australia and America, where application of heroin needs must not be shared in order to avoid the spread of diseases (Sansom, 1980).

Nevertheless, informal social sanctions are a form of social sanctions which function to minimise harm amongst drug users. It's where groups of friends or peers bond together. As a result, this is seen to exert pressure through peer approval as groups are seen to act in certain ways thus minimizing all forms of harm (Heather, N.,, 1993). In fact, groups act in ways to regulate the use of drugs via the influence of their own values and rules of conduct. Such examples of rules and values have been developed through folk lore, own experience or even the experience of another user (Du Toit, 1977). Also, peer groups may follow certain rules such as "never trip alone" (Moore, 1993, p.61 ) or even have an experienced tripper at site (Moore, 1993). In the use of alcohol, social groups can also influence the notion of "don't drink and drive" or "know your own limits" (Zinberg, 1984). As a result, these rules of conduct amongst peer groups not only minimize harm amongst illicit drug users but also becomes highly influential thus asserting continued membership within the group. Furthermore, during these experiences, users are usually coached by more experienced users thus minimizing harm amongst drug users.

On the other hand, the use of formal social sanctions are understood as another social control to reduce the risk of harm minimization amongst drug users and aimed at regulating the use of drugs through various laws and policies (Du Toit, 1977). Furthermore, formal practices including drug regulation purchases, storage and administration of drugs acts as guidelines to minimise harm amongst drug users. It helps to limit accessibility to such drugs, allowing trained practitioners to prescribe appropriate drug usage which in turn minimises their accessibility to illicit drugs (Duff, 2004). Therefore, law enforcement agencies play an important role towards regulating these functions and consequently not abiding the law will result in punishment. Together, both formal and informal social sanctions function to reduce harm surrounding the use of drugs (Du Toit, 1977).

Lastly, it must be recognised that whilst sanctions and rituals socially aide in the controlling of the drug users setting, not all rules will be adhered to nor will means be effective. However, it is recognized that social controls operate in ways to reduce harm amongst drug users and also throughout the socialisation process. In essence, as demonstrated in Western and non-Western societies, social controls surrounding drug use function to minimise harm amongst drug users. In order to reduce the harmful effects of drugs, users must "accommodate use in less harmful ways, promote the development of social norms, values and beliefs that foster abstinence and to create alternatives that replace the role of drugs in peoples' lives" (Durrant & Thakker, 2003, p. 248). Furthermore, to support Zinberg's theory on social controls, both sanctions and rituals operate together in a multitude of social settings; thus, drug control is largely recognised sub culturally which patterns the way drugs are used (Heather, N.,, 1993, p.84). Also, it is understood that harm minimization implies some attempt to "shape the culture and the context of illicit drug use" (Duff, 2004, p. 391), thus reducing harmful effects of drug usage and placing great emphasis on the social controls of drug usage.

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