For thousands of years humans have used multiple kinds of drugs, beer was consumed as far back as the early Egyptians, narcotics have been used since 4000 BC and the earliest use of marijuana has been dated as far back as 2737 BC in China. It wasn’t until the nineteenth century where drugs extracted and were more understood, the time followed where larger drugs started to come around including morphine and cocaine, these substances were unregulated by physicians and pharmacists they were put into people’s medication and sold by travellers and drugstores. During the Civil War, morphine was a freely used drug for a variety of reasons including those that were wounded. By the early 1900 it was estimated that there were 250,000 addicts in the United States (Brecher,1972). The U.S Supreme Court of decisions made it illegal for doctors to prescribe narcotics to addicts, and those that did prescribe the medication when they weren’t supposed to, they would be sent to jail. By the 1930’s most states required antidrug education within schools and in the early 1970’s some states decriminalized marijuana and lowered the drinking age. Throughout the years the public’s view of the dangers of substance abuse changed including laws including life imprisonment and even the death penalty.
Many people don’t have the greatest understanding as to why and how people become addicted to substances including drugs and alcohol, people mistakenly think that those who use substances lack moral principles, self-esteem, and willpower and so on. However, in reality, substance use and abuse can be considered a disease and is hard to give up. Substances can be used as a primary motivator of persistent involvement in the criminal justice system. According to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC, 2012) reports that cannabis use is becoming a normative risk- taking behaviour among young people worldwide. Globally, there have been multiple concerns that have been raised over the past few decades in regards to young people and drugs, environments, addiction, effects on the production, trafficking and selling of drugs and so forth. The criminal justice and public health model helps individuals either stop, control or help prevent harmful situations, supporters of legalization believe that more problems are actually caused by the criminalization of substance use but that isn’t always the case, some also believe the opposite.
Over the last few decades, the use of marijuana has become more modern to the Canadian society indicating that the normalizing the process in societal relations and experiences. Alcohol, marijuana, coffee, cocaine, cigarettes, heroin, and ecstasy are all drugs that are a part of the adolescent world. Further research explains that those that are younger understand their decisions that they are making and habits they are getting into in relation to the use of substance usage, by taking risks as a teenager or young adult it represents an important way to shape ones identity, experiments with new decision-making skills and develop realistic assessments of themselves, others and society around them (Ponton, 1997). However, it is very high chance that by experiencing these exploratory behaviours can lead to poor physical activity, nutrition, sexual behaviour leading to unexpected pregnancy and, or, infections and by abusing such substances it can also lead to unintended injuries.
Another important issue related to adolescents using drugs is the age of initiation. The later the age of starting a certain drug the less chance a person has of becoming addicted when experiments with drugs occur. In countries where drugs have become more or less decriminalized the age of imitation is much older, starting a few years after the average age in terms of experimenting drugs can save many troubled youth of addiction and save society in both human resources and financial strain that is faced to deal with the addiction over their lifetime.
Most recent theories have focused on the learning process and social influences of an individual such as inhibition of control and habit learning. According to Akers the social learning theory is one of the most influential theories that influences behaviours as you grow up taking after your role models. This theory explains that whatever you’ve been exposed to growing up, you are likely to develop whatever it is as you get older including behaviours, attitudes, skills knowledge and other cultural information. It is in fact, a monkey-see, monkey-do world and we as humans follow that theory.
The psychology of one’s conscious and unconscious tendencies to self-destruct reflects failures in ego functions involving self-care and self-protection. Wurmser’s ‘defence structure theory’ (1980) suggests that drugs are usually used to cope with unhappy emotional states or negative emotions. Drugs serve as a form of protection against these fears or anxieties and are used to counteract these negative feelings. Milkman and Frosch’s ‘coping theory’ (1980) emphasizes the function of drugs as a way to alleviate problems including depression, anxiety and alienation, however it is argued by Greaves (1974) that drugs are dependant for drug users as a form of self-medication in order to replace what their feeling.
Under the medicalization approach the individual who abuses a substance is seen to be ill or in need of medical attention and control. In 2001, the Canadian government took a leap forward reconsidering the laws on marijuana use; the first reconsideration was to examine the government’s policy on cannabis, followed by other countries. Second, to recognize the positive and negative benefits of marijuana in treating health symptoms or life threatening and chronic illnesses, the government granted access to medical marijuana to those with specified medical problems.
Political views and public policies in regards to substance use in Canada today was that more than one quarter of Canadians (27%) felt that the possession of a small amount if cannabis should be legal and 47% felt that possession should be against the law but subject to either no penalty or a fine only for a first offence and only 17% favour the current policy whereby a first offender is subject to a small jail sentence, the remaining 14% had no opinion. In the future the government plans to strengthen prevention work responding to the needs of youth and young adults, increase efforts to target the process of crime and the property used to commit crimes and respond to the considerable amount of harm associated with drug use. Therefore, the war against drugs in Canada remains primarily one against cannabis. It is not surprising that there is a reluctance to give up this fight, as hypocritical and as futile as it must appear. Both sides in the warthe police and the marijuana distributorshave nothing to gain and everything to lose if cannabis is given legitimacy as a recreational drug” (Riley, 1998, p. 26). The most considerable legal change in relation to cannabis that has occurred with the introduction of the Controlled Drugs and Substance Act. The legislation for the first time set marijuana apart from other drugs and the punishments are slightly different compared to the harder drugs including cocaine and heroin.
It is a normal habit for those that abuse substances to experience a wide variety of physical effects including the ambiguous sensation of feeling high, the excitement of a cocaine high is followed by a crash: periods of anxiety, depression, fatigue, in contrary to alcohol and heroin, you would experience slightly different feelings including a lack of motor control, vomiting, muscle cramps, convulsions and so on. Substance and drugs abuse doesn’t just have an effect on the individual but also affects others including their family and society affecting their mood and performance which can lead to personal problems, and poor work performance or getting fired from your job. It can disturb family life and create disruptive patterns out of love or fear of the consequences by encouraging or enabling the use of drugs, supplying the drugs, lending money or even by denial that the problem exists. Mothers that are pregnant bear a much higher rate of low birth weight babies than the average, resulting in addicted babies who go through withdrawals afterbirth or known as Fetal alcohol syndrome affecting children of mother who consume such substances during pregnancy.
Effects that substance use has on the society can be costly in terms of its effects in the workplace including lost work time and inefficiency. Drug users are more likely to have occupational accidents, endangering themselves and others around them. It can disrupt neighbours with violence among the drug dealers themselves, threats to those who reside around them and crimes committed by the addicts. Some neighbourhoods have the ‘neighbourhood watch’ team which are recruited children that are on the lookout, hence why guns have become an ordinary piece of equipment among adolescents in many inner-city communities in the United States. A large majority of homeless people either have a drug or alcohol problem or mental illness and many have both (Voas and Tippetts, 1999).
There are multiple studies explaining how and why there are positive and negative effects of cannabis use, there are studies that research how cannabis is a stress reducers and was found to be the ideal drug to relax which acted as a motivating factor to using the drug, this has urged the governments to re-evaluate a more effective harm reduction programme with dealing with adolescents. Additionally, cannabis use plays a role in anger management and the avoidance of other troubles. Furthermore, negative effects of cannabis can include respiratory effects, cognitive impairments and/or psychological problems (Kalant, 2004). There have been increasing associations between cannabis use and higher risk or psychological difficulties (World Health Organization, 2008)
Over the years there have been multiple harm reduction programs including harm reduction. Harm reduction focuses on reducing those who have trouble terminating the use of drugs at that moment in time. It places a priority on reducing negative consequences of drug use rather than on eliminating drug use. . As such, it is no surprise that Canada has experienced a strong and growing national movement of peer organizations who are advocating for drug policy reform and improved access to harm reduction (Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, 2005). If Canadians are truly concerned with reducing the harms associated with marijuana use they could consider supporting the harm reduction movement that essentially treats drugs use and misuse pragmatically as a public health issue rather than a crime issue (Hathaway and Erickson, 2003).
Drug addiction is a problem faced all around the world by many people; drugs can be very harmful towards individuals pulling them one step closer to death and/or deconstruction such as cardiac problems, liver damage and the loss of taking care of one’s self. There have been multiple inaccurate conclusions towards why people use drugs which can result in misleading interventions. Because the purity and dosage of illegal drugs are uncontrolled, drug overdose is a constant risk. More than 10,000 deaths annually in the United States are directly attributable to drug use. The most frequently involved substances are cocaine, heroin, and morphine, often in combination with alcohol or other drugs (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2000). Many drug users engage in criminal activity, such as burglary and prostitution, to raise the money to buy drugs. Some drugs, especially alcohol, PCP, and cocaine, are associated with violent behavior