Looking At Drug Abuse And The Ongoing Problems Criminology Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

There is an ongoing problem with drug abuse in the United and many other parts of the world. Drug abuse can be defined as the inappropriate use of legal drugs or the use of illegal drugs. As far as the National Institute on Drug Abuse addiction is concerned, addiction is described as the relapsing, chronic brain disease that is associated with obsessive drug seeking and use, despite of the destructive consequences. Today's method of punishment as far as drug abuse is concerned comes in form of prison sentencing, jail, mandatory treatment or probation.

Even though drug abuse is a criminal offence, the society has the right to anticipate that a triumphant approach be taken to deal with the current problem of drug abuse. Drug abusers are supposed to be punished for committing a crime, but they also require learning how to prevent relapse and seek appropriate treatment for their addiction (Skolnick 1994, 637).

Discussion of the topic

According to the criminal justice system of the United States, there are frequent arguments as to whether rehabilitation can eradicate drug abuse. Some individuals in the criminal justice world, including several judges and some in the political arena claim that sending an individual in a jail where drugs are not present, is an equivalent of treatment, and that once the individual has been away from drugs for two or more years, he/she will be cured.

Others argue that abstinence cannot be regarded as a form of rehabilitation and a treatment to drug abuse. A recent research in the State of Minnesota revealed that about 75 percent of respondents mostly or completely agreed that the criminal justice system should attempt to rehabilitate criminals rather than punish them. Many arguments come up as to if rehabilitation assists in terminating a criminal behavior. A study conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration proposes that treatment can reduce the drug abuse by half, decrease arrests up to 64 percent, and reduce criminal activity up to almost 80 percent.

According to Bethany (2010, 94), many individuals that watch their loved ones go through drug abuse feel helpless. They may see the destruction that is brought in their lives, and probably the individual is causing physical damage to themselves as well as others. The crucial step is achieved when a loved one brazen out the addicted individual about getting assistance for their problem. At times the discussion or intervention will bring the addict to their senses and they will willingly seek treatment for the drug abuse.

However, feelings of desolation come right back when the brazed out person refuse to enter treatment for substance abuse. It is during these times that the families and loved ones can be grateful to something known as Marchman Act. While it is found in some states, Florida is claimed to have the best progressive process.

The Marchman Act

This is a law that permits family members, law enforcement, as well as others to provide instantaneous evaluation and treatment for loved ones that involve in drug abuse and that reject treatment. In order to initialize the Marchman Act, a private practitioner, family member, or any three mature people that are sure the individual needs assistance can file a lobby with the Mental Health Division of the home courthouse.

In order to be compulsorily brought into these proceedings, the person must be out of control because of drug abuse and either has or will likely mete out harm on others or themselves, he/she can not see the necessity of treatment, or has rejected the voluntary care. At this juncture, the person abusing the drugs is taken and bottlenecked for not less than five days.

As Mauer (1995, 125) asserts, the subjects have no choice and are not in a position to reject this care. At this time, the subject is examined and stabilized, and a treatment arrangement is recommended. A judge will then base on the recommendation to determine the length and type of treatment to be administered. If the subject resists or quits treatment, there are penalties, but the aim of all this is to give care to an individual who could not enter treatment on their own.

The Marchman act is a private process and is carried out in civil courts. Hence implementing the Marchman Act on an individual will not lead to substance abuse or possession on their records of crime. The main objective of the act is to provide treatment and not punishment.

A good number of families have found some assistance in the Marchman Act. These families may have had no otherwise, and due to this Act, they were able to obtain assistance for their loved ones. There is absolutely no fee to commence the Marchman Act, but treatment cost applies. Many families find it necessary to hire a lawyer to assist them go through the process. While the process may still be tricky at times, many loved ones have realized their desired goal of obtaining help as well as protection for a person they care about that has gave in to drug abuse.

United States war on drug abuse

The United States war on drug abuse represents a distressed attempt to stop the unstoppable. Much focus is placed on punishment as compared to treatment. A good number of Americans are currently being taken to jail for offenses that are drug related than for property related crimes. About 72% of the federal government's expenditure on the drug pandemic is directed to law enforcement agencies, and a mere 28% goes to prevention and treatment (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1998).

Criminalizing the use of drugs increases the rate at which the crimes are committed to acquire the drugs. Imprisoning the drug dealers increase the price of drugs, hence making their business more worthwhile. A high percent of killings among the teens in urban areas has a thing to do with this business (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1989).

Currently, drug abusers constitute more than half of the inmate population in federal prisons. Those criminals who are violent are usually released early enough to give room for nonviolent drug abusers who are locked upon compulsory-length prison terms. In addition, as the professor of law, Franey (1993, 265) suggests, public safety is compromised when the law enforcement efforts are diverted from more severe criminal activities to crimes such as possession of bhang. Elevated taxes are raised to pay for the effort of being released and for building for new prisons and jails to imprison those arrested and convicted.

Paying regard to the human rights issue, Franey complains about the extensive deprivation of the constitutional protections that have been brought about by the crack-down on drug abuse. According to him, the war on drugs is a war on the entire population, directed against the people and not against the drugs themselves. With practically everybody being a suspect, the entire population should be checked, observed, screened, and continually tested.

The officials of law enforcement in collaboration with military forces of the Unite States have the ability to canine sniff as well as look for voluntarily because the laws on seizure and search are widely interpreted in favor of federal drug agents and local police. And drug possession punishments have become draconian.

As Jesse (2010, 73) argues, in some countries like the United Kingdom, likewise, even if the punishments seem astonishingly soft by standards of the United States, a wrap up of strict anticrime measures provides the courts and police with more power than it used to be. Nevertheless, the British attitude towards the use of illegal drugs is far more medical rather than punitive. For instance, needle exchange programs in which the clients give their dirty needles in exchange of the clean ones are broadly implemented in the United Kingdom. Contrary, in the United States, Congress rejects to fund such programs for fear of their implications to the public.

The United States top-down, coercive approach to the similar pandemic facing the United Kingdom (an increase on HIV infection spread through the sharing of injection needles by hopeless drug injectors), indicates a crucial dissimilarity in the experience of the pandemic within the United States as compared to the United Kingdom context. The United Kingdom and other European countries' reliance on the aspect of maintenance of heroin seems quite uncanny from the perspective of a nation steeped in military values.

The UK pragmatism

While the United States almost entirely depends on law enforcement efforts, precisely, the United Kingdom policies are more flexible with much emphasis on treatments for the drug addicts. In the UK after the 1970s, due to the increase in skepticism concerning the efficiency of the model emulated from the state of Minnesota, a new public medication approach dwelled much on control of societal trends of consumption. The polarized aspect of addiction started to relent to what Butler (1997, 57) refers to as 'a more pragmatic' damage reduction technique which currently plays a major role in provision of services. In reaction to European pressure, the World Health Association has also diverted away from the disease model.

The treatment approach to drug abuse is consistent with the United Kingdom practicality, humanity and a more informal attitude on the Atlantic's eastern side towards the conventional vices. Constitutional drug services such as National Health Service Drug Dependence Units and Community Drug Team avail multidisciplinary treatments that prevent drug users from stigmatization. Regional community services, especially that integrating outreach aspect, form a fundamental foundation of HIV work. Reducing the profit prospective in selling illegal products to individuals who depend on drugs is a secondary advantage of the giving out of drugs as well as drug paraphernalia under tight medical supervision (Erikson 1966, 217).

Since the death statistics associated with war on drugs are very high and due to the fact that punishment measures to curb drug abuse has failed, many experts of addiction in the United States are beginning to seek other alternatives. However, pragmatism is not always feasible politically.

The crisis of alcoholism and other drug abuse, and also the question of whether it is a crisis or not, and the legal and treatment aspects; these cannot be merely viewed within the modern-day context. The phenomena must be looked at both historically and culturally. With regard to Anglo American culture and its British counterpart, a fundamental core of value dimensions can be realized.

In relation to treatment of drug addiction, the core values that follow are appropriate: rugged individualism; emotional self-control; and independency, mobility and work, moralism and orientation of the nuclear family. These core values are related to both success as well as its alter ego, stress.

The fact that disciplinary plays such a major role in drug policy initiatives of the United States; it is undoubtedly a bequest of Puritan antecedents. Consequently, the entire joint American/British core values, the moralism core value is the only value that is singularly American. Under the worldview's rubric, the disease technique provides advantages that a stress on person responsibility cannot (Wormer 1999, 40).

At the individual level, the disease model assists in stopping the inbuilt moralism and aspect of personal shame due to addiction or loss of control. The question of treatment also comes up. In a country that lack nationalized health care, funding of the treatment would soon elapse if chemical addiction were regarded as just a bad habit and not an illness.

However, a technique that assists individuals in minimizing the damage they cause to themselves with alcohol or other drugs has a great deal to offer. Such a model will assist individuals help themselves, it is totally necessary that addiction experts work with their clients and not in opposition to them: in this context, harm reduction must be considered as a practicable treatment option (Hobby 1996 71).


Drug abuse has become a world crisis. The different arguments about curbing the problem of drug abuse have different impacts. The law enforcement model that is mostly applied in the US tends to escalate the problem because the citizens owe to be rebellious. The treatment model which is applied in the United Kingdom tends to bring much success in curbing the problem of drug abuse. Due to the fact that abstinence technique emphasizes treatment after the drug addict has lost total control, a chance to introduce life saving plans at the tender stages of the substance use. Hence, more research needs to be conducted to come up with more effective ways of dealing with the drug problem.