Chemical Dependency


Chemical dependency is a psychoactive dependence on a substance. It may be used interchangeably to imply substance abuse. Substance abuse may be well defined in terms of such notions as individual’s preoccupation, cravings, dependence, tolerance and loss of control (Doweiko, 2012).

Socio-cultural Determinants of Substance Abuse

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There are various aspects in individual’s and socio-cultural settings that influence substance abuse. For instance, the family being the basic unit in any society plays a role in substance abuse both directly or indirectly. Substance abuse in the family may be in consequence of genetic transmission, especially among the males. However, in most cases, family structure and strife among family members may lead to the delinquent behavior that consequently considerably increases the probability of exposure to substance abuse (Lyman, 2013).

Demographic aspects of the society, when due to an increment in young people many of them cannot attend a school and find a job, may also lead to the prevalence of drug abuse (Ghodse, 2011). These aspects may result from migrations that lead to social transmissions in the society. Moreover, drug and substance strongly correlate with the social influence and peer pressure, especially among the youths. In most cases, young people get involved in substance abuse due to the influence of their drug-abusing friends and out of the fear of peer rejection, especially in schools (Lyman, 2013).

Poverty is yet another determinant of substance abuse. Studies reveal that families and individuals that are challenged economically may easily quit substance abuse compared to economically endowed individuals (Ghodse, 2011). Moreover, families living under poverty may not be in a position to provide resources that meet the needs of their children who, as a consequence, are exposed to drug abuse and other delinquent behaviors.

In some societies, the western culture has led to deterioration of social values and promoted western cultural values, such as individualism, postmodernism, pessimism and secularism. These values have negative impacts on morality and lead to alienation from social values, depression and anxiety, which then make a group more vulnerable to substance abuse (Lyman, 2013). Individualism, for instance, is linked to drug abuse by the virtue of promoting risk-taking among such individuals and society. Moreover, individualistic societies promote self-responsibility and hence a self-righteous attitude even in hazardous behaviors.

Widespread Use

Such drugs as stimulants, depressants, cannabis, narcotics, steroids, hallucinogens and inhalants are in a widespread use. These drugs have unique effects and characteristics. For instance, stimulants have the effects of reversing the general mental and physical fatigue. Depressants, on the other hand, are used to induce sleep and relieve stress or anxiety through a depression in the central nervous system (CNS) (Lyman, 2013).

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Costs Implications

Substance abuse has intrinsic financial, physical, social and psychological consequences. Every economy incurs financial expenses either directly or indirectly. For instance, the estimated costs of drug abuse on society were $180.9 million in 2002. These costs included the healthcare costs, criminal justice costs and the costs due to lost productivity (Ruiz, Strain, & Lowinson, 2011). There are indirect costs which may be incalculable; these may be attributed to the despairs, strains and heartaches of the addicts, and their caretakers.

Alcohol or drugs addiction can be linked to crimes, accidents, deaths and other negative social implications, such as poor interpersonal relationships. For instance, research shows that in 2002, 18% and 17% of federal and state inmates respectively committed offense to get money to purchase drugs. In addition, 68% of all the inmates were drug dependants (Ruiz et al., 2011). Different aspects of deaths today are attributable to drug abuse; these include accidents, homicides and suicides. The crime reports indicate that people who operate under the influence of substance dependence have a higher probability to engage either in occupational or traffic accidents. Moreover, approximately 4% of homicides reported in 2007 were related to drug addiction and trafficking (Ruiz et al., 2011).

Drug abuse contributes to poor interpersonal relationship and psychological costs in the society. Drug abuse contributes to family and interpersonal conflicts and assaults among the adolescents. Moreover, long-sentence imprisonment of the drug addicts has psychological costs. Such imprisonment and violence attributed to drug abuse cause family and community disruptions (Ruiz et al., 2011).

The Dynamics of Addiction: Defense Mechanism

Defense mechanism is a way of coping with anxiety and restoring balance to one’s emotional experience (Doweiko, 2012). Such mechanisms include denial, displacement, projection, rationalization and fantasy among others. Denial occurs when one protects themselves from reality. It is an unconscious self-deception that enables one to face a hurting or fearsome reality from their past or present. Projection, on the other hand, is an art of blame where one assumes that someone else has distasteful qualities and as such may project responsibilities arising from their misbehaviors onto others so as to remain not responsible for the misdeeds (Doweiko, 2012).

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Displacement is a defense mechanism in which a person misdirects their feelings to someone or something that is less threatening compared to the one that triggered the feelings. By doing so, a person places such impulses on safer but guiltless persons. On the other hand, rationalization is a justification and making an excuse for otherwise unacceptable behavior (Perkinson, 2012). Finally, fantasy involves creating an unrealistic and improbable image or daydreaming as a way of escaping from daily responsibilities and handling problems, frustrations or pressures.


In conclusion, the socio-cultural determinants of drug abuse include the family, poverty, western cultures, peer pressure and demographic aspects. Due to the widespread use of drugs, drug abuse has direct and indirect intrinsic costs and the addicts have diverse defense mechanisms, such as denial, displacement, projection, rationalization and fantasy among others.

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