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How Poor Economic Situations Help To Force People To Turn To Substance Selling And Addiction

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There are many factors that contribute to the increasing problem of substance abuse and addiction. We feel through the evidence we’ve gathered, the environments individuals are exposed to and their experiences, play a more prevalent role in the process of addiction and substance abuse than their biology. Victims of trauma from early childhood, such as physical abuse and neglect, have been shown to be at greater risk for substance abuse and addiction. A study of 2164 students between the 10th and 12th grade, throughout six Oregon schools, found that victims of childhood sexual abuse were over 3 times as likely to use drugs, alcohol and tobacco. This evidence shows a direct correlation between the experiences of the adolescents and their subsequent substance use. Studies have also linked harmful health behaviours in adults, with traumatic childhood experiences.

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Through the research conducted by Wu et al. (2009), an 18% increased risk of developing a major tobacco dependency through each level of childhood trauma severity was found, followed by a 16% risk of alcohol dependency. These studies allow us to draw connections between the increased risk of substance use in adolescents and substance dependency in adults, through their mutually shared traumatic experiences during childhood. Another way that people begin addiction is by being influenced by their social environment. The economic state of the country that they live in will have a direct impact on their lives, and when combined with social issues between people, can lead to people turning to drugs for income and as a coping mechanism.

One of these scenarios can be understood with the Golden Valley, North California, a logging town that was economically devastated by the loss of lumber industry jobs in 1990. Those who sold or took drugs were socially seen as immoral and uncooperative individuals who would make poor workers. Even if this was not the case with the individual in question, they were still stigmatized from the rest of the population, causing them to lose jobs opportunities and social connections. The combination of social contempt and unemployment would only drive the person further into their adduction, creating a self-destructive loop.

More economical and social difficulties can be seen in a study from Russia about the youth culture in economically poor culture. The study showed that following the collapse of the USSR in 1991, many drug markets opened for easy access for many of the youth. These markets have persisted to this day and are still an influential factor in the economics of many communities in Russia. This social structure that has evolved has led to many youths becoming entangled within this cultural structure, although not because of peer pressure, but because of the bonds that they develop with their peers. Many of them are not victims of drug addiction, but active drug dealers and users that help to maintain the cultural structure that they have been born into. They work as individuals and groups to form better strategies to better negotiate through the social contexts that they face. By working together, they perpetuate their addictions and influence from the drugs they handle, but as this is the best way for them to survive, they continue to live and spread this way of life.

Both examples help to show how poor economic situations help to force people to turn to substance selling and addiction, and through either social contempt or social comradery, people can go further into the economic structure that they were forced into by the circumstances of their society and culture.

It is also known that the standard of the parenting that a child receives has a large impact on their likelihood of developing a dependency on substances. It has been shown that parental substance abuse, as well as the supervision that a parent gives to their child, can have a large influence on teen drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse. A study has also shown that, although peer influence is generally seen as a main factor, family has a sizable influence on substance abuse especially when factoring in supervision, discipline, parental attachment.

11 February 2020

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