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Has drug use among young people become normalised?

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Introduction

SOCIAL POLICY - SA300 EMILIA IORDANOU Q) Has drug use among young people become normalised? The aims of this essay are to firstly, define what 'drug use' entails and how often young people use drugs. Then secondly to find out what drugs are being taken. Ultimately it is necessary to see whether drug use is increasing and therefore becoming 'normalised.' Is it true to argue that drug use has become a common act among young people, who see it as a 'normal' part of life? 'Illicit' or illegal drugs come from three different class types. Type A drugs are the most harmful and arguably the most difficult to obtain. Examples include cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, LSD etc. Type B drugs are mainly amphetamines, which are classed as less harmful as the Type A drugs. Type C drugs are the least harmful and are perhaps the easiest to obtain, for example cannabis is a type C drug and it is the most widely used drug amongst young people. Research suggests that young people regard cannabis in the same way that they regard alcohol and tobacco. This indicates that drug use has become normalised amongst young people. ...read more.

Middle

reported taking cannabis.11 Therefore, this suggests that perhaps drug taking is a social act more popular with the wealthier youths, as drugs are fairly expensive. This is especially so for the harder drugs, e.g. heroin and cocaine. These are expensive drug habits to feed once addicted, and it was found that they were in fact more widely used in private schools.12 Parker et al. (1995) argued that youth in the 1990's grew up in and with a new level of drug availability. Whether or not they became drug users is their decision, yet it is a decision based on peer group pressures also.13 The media plays a large part in drug use among youths. As Blackman (1996) states, 'Consumer capitalism plays a central role in the marketing of drug referenced products as part of young peoples leisure and lifestyle.'14 Images within youth culture are drug influenced; for example, many rap songs contain lyrics about drugs. Films also have drug story lines, e.g. Basketball Diaries, where the main character is a heroin addict. Some clothes labels also promote drug use, e.g. jeans and t-shirts with logos of men smoking marijuana etc. Even if individuals do not choose to use the drugs widely available, we live in a 'cultural, media and consumption environment saturated by references to ...read more.

Conclusion

men are more likely to report drug use than women.24 This shows evidence that perhaps drug use has not become normalised among youths. It is important to mention that there are different norms for cannabis/marijuana to harder drugs like cocaine, so it is difficult and inaccurate to generalise by saying that 'drug use has become normalised amongst youth.' Shiner and Newburn (1997, 1999) believe that the normalisation thesis exaggerates the extent of drug use by young people, and over simplifies the ways in which young people perceive drug use.25 In addition, the claim that 'drug taking by young people has become normalised simplifies the choices that young people make about drug use.'26 Finally, Shiner and Newburn (1997, 1999) argue that the normalisation thesis 'pays inadequate attention to the normative context of behaviour.' Generally, young people do view drug use as a problematic activity. Their views on drug use are similar to that of non-users.27 To conclude, this essay has argued both for and against for the 'normalisation of drug use among youth today.' Based on all this evidence, studies etc, found, it can be concluded that drug use has become normalised among young people, although not for all drugs. It is clear that cannabis is increasing in popularity especially among youths, yet drugs like cocaine are far from being 'normalised. ...read more.

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