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The problem of policing illegal drug and substance abuse - Essay Example

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The problem of policing illegal drug and substance abuse ‘Drug abuse on the rise’ is a headline that has been catching our attention quite frequently over the last few years. …
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The problem of policing illegal drug and substance abuse
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The problem of policing illegal drug and substance abuse

Download file to see previous pages... (UNODC, 2010) Drug abuse, also known as substance abuse, refers to the repeated consumption of a substance or drug in quantities or with means which are injurious to the consumers themselves or to others. This not only causes a wide range of physical, social and psychological damage, but also entails one to criminal penalty. (Fox, 2002) In many cases, it may cause long-term or permanent personality changes as well as lead the consumers to antisocial and criminal activities. (Ray, 2002) Magnitude of Global Drug Abuse In the year 2000 United Nations reported that worldwide there are more than 50 million regular users of morphine, heroin, cocaine and synthetic drugs. (BBC News, 2000) It was also observed that he experimentation with drugs and alcohol was most common amongst the older adolescents. According to a nationwide survey on rates of substance use in the United States, 48.2% of high school students in the US had reportedly consumed an illicit drug during their lifetime, 41.2% of them had consumed alcohol and 19.2% had smoked tobacco. About 21% of them had practised prescription drug abuse. (University of Michigan, 2011) Earlier in 2002, the World Health Organization assessed that nearly 140 million people across the world were addicted to alcohol. The most comprehensive medical definition of the term is provided by the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The manual defines drug abuse as a "a maladaptive pattern of use indicated by continued use despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent social, occupational, psychological or physical problem that is caused or exacerbated by the use or by recurrent use in situations in which it is physically hazardous." It is a situation when “an individual persists in use of alcohol or other drugs despite problems related to use of the substance” and subsequently “compulsive and repetitive use may result in tolerance to the effect of the drug and withdrawal symptoms when use is reduced or stopped”. (DSM, 2000) However, public health practitioners tend to view drug abuse from a broader perspective. Their approach is not restricted to the individual, and rather extends to accentuating the role of society and culture. For instance, the public health model put forward by the Health Officers Council of British Columbia explains a gamut of use, extending from beneficial use to prolonged dependence. The council, in their 2005 policy discussion paper, state that while “beneficial use” of drugs is limited to recreational, casual and medical use that has negligible health or social effects, “chronic dependence” is characterised by routine and compulsive use despite negative health and social effects. (HOC of British Columbia, 2005) Philip Jenkins points out two ambiguous issues related to defining the term "drug abuse". Firstly, he opines that the definition of a "drug" is dubious. For example, GHB (Gamma-Hydroxy-Butyric acid), a naturally occurring compound in the central nervous system of man as well as in wine, beef and small citrus fruits, is considered an illegal drug in many countries. But in contrast, nicotine is not officially regarded as a drug in most countries. Secondly, the word "abuse" suggests an accepted standard of use for any stuff. In most of the Western ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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