What are the social impacts of illicit drug use in the life of a drug user in active addiction?
There are many social implications of illegal drug use. In the beginning, the drug user may use drugs socially.
Many people who use illicit drugs have stories of the early days, when they used alcohol, marijuana, and possibly psychedelics. At first, drug use was often social, until addiction and loneliness set in.
At some point, they were exposed to a more addictive drug that became their drug of choice. The illicit drug of choice may have been opioid pain pills, cocaine, or even heroin, fentanyl, meth, or crack cocaine.
For some people with substance use disorder, their drug of choice was not an illegal drug. Alcohol use is legal, but alcohol is still a drug, and one of the most addictive, harmful, and deadly drugs.
Even if the drug user continued with less addictive drugs, it is possible to have serious social consequences of drug use, even if the drug is marijuana or psychedelic drugs, such as psilocybin or LSD. A cannabis user can achieve a level of drug misuse where the cannabis replaces social interactions.
Isolation is a common consequence of drugs and drug use. The social consequences may be due to friends and family not approving of the drug use, or embarrassment on the part of the drug user.
Of all of the bad habits on the complete list of social vices, drug misuse is one of the worst, because it can cause physical health problems, mental health problems, and serious social effects. Parents of addicts often feel as if they have lost their child, even if their child is alive, and somewhat functional in their life.
Drug addiction changes mental functioning and makes it difficult for a person in active addiction to relate to friends, family, and coworkers. Friends will find themselves grieving the loss of a friendship when they are no longer able to connect with their friend who is now suffering from a drug use disorder.
How do different types of substance use relate to the social impacts of drug abuse?
What are the social factors of substance abuse and alcohol abuse? Alcohol use, being legal and socially acceptable to a point, is often a social activity. A person can engage in significant alcohol abuse, before being seen as having a problem.
Friends go out and get drunk together, and if one friend gets a little too drunk, a little too often, it may be overlooked for a long time. It may take a serious event to cause alienation of the alcoholic from a group of friends or from family.
A DUI or DWI can point to the existence of an alcohol problem. Drunkenness in front of children, physical and emotional abuse of family members, and missing work or losing a job can also point to serious alcohol abuse effects on family.
Other types of substance misuse are seen as being a serious problem as soon as they are discovered. Many circles of friends or family will not be accepting of the snorting, smoking, or injecting of cocaine, meth, heroin, or fentanyl.
It would be hard to imagine a family situation where taking out drug powder, a mirror, razor blade and straw would be acceptable. The same would go for a crack or meth pipe, or a syringe and needle, torch, and spoon.
Yet, passing around glasses of wine, champaign, or bottles of beer is often perfectly acceptable. As we can see, the social effects of substance use in social situations are very different, and may lead faster to losing friends and contact with family, depending on the substance.
“Do I do drugs because I feel alone or do I feel alone because I do drugs?”
Loneliness and addiction go hand in hand. When a person reaches a point of addictive use of a substance, it is hard to relate to other people or to feel comfortable in social situations. The drug completely replaces social interaction, but when the high wears off, loneliness sets in.
From the point of view of friends and family members, it might appear that drug or alcohol use led their loved one to isolate from the world. However, many people engage in illicit drug use or excessive use of alcohol to self-treat a mental health problem, such as social anxiety.
Substance abuse can, in the beginning, help a person to come out of their shell, and appear to socialize effectively. It is only later that the negative consequences, including the social consequences of drug addiction, become apparent.
Parents of addicted adults often misunderstand their adult children, not realizing that mental illness and emotional trauma existed before the drug use began. A critical component of addiction recovery and addiction treatment is extensive therapy to explore these important issues.
How do different types of substance abuse lead to different social consequences of drug abuse?
A person who develops opioid use disorder likely engaged in the risky behaviors of opioid misuse in order to self-treat pain with either an opioid prescription drug or street opioids, such as heroin or fentanyl. Often the pain is not physical, but due to emotional trauma and psychological pain.
Opioid users are often functional for long periods, in spite of their drug problem. Their drug use is often not for social purposes, though some people do self-treat the pain of social anxiety with opioids.
In the case of the opioid user, the social consequences of drug abuse can be related to the fact that they must hide their drug use from coworkers, friends, and family members. Opioid addiction can remain well-hidden for months, or years, making it difficult for family members to assist them in getting help.
Alcohol use, being legal and socially acceptable, is also often used for self treatment of the pain of social anxiety, but as the drug problem with alcohol spirals out of control, it may be more obvious to loved ones. Eventually, even the alcohol user begins to isolate, leading to the situation of loneliness and alcohol abuse throughout the day.
Stimulants, such as meth or cocaine, are often used socially in the beginning. But, the user at risk of becoming a drug addict may have an underlying mental health condition that responds to the drug, making it more likely that the user will continue use and be at higher risk of becoming addicted.
A meth user may be treating the fatigue caused by depression, or they may be treating the symptoms of attention deficit disorder or attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder. For these people, life after drugs often involves proper treatment of the underlying issue with therapy and more appropriate drug treatment.
What is the social impact of drug treatment?
Many drug treatment programs include family involvement, and even family therapy, as part of the drug treatment process. Overcoming the problem of social isolation and addiction can be greatly helped by reconnecting with family.
The process can begin with families getting involved in harm reduction. Rather than pushing the addicted family member deeper into loneliness and substance abuse with “tough love,” the family can keep their loved one close, providing support to keep them safe until they are ready to accept help.
People in recovery find that, with time, they are able to reintegrate into the family, gaining more and more acceptance as the continue participating in a successful drug treatment program.
For example, many people believe that the purpose of Suboxone treatment is to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms and opioid cravings. While these are important mechanisms of treatment, the most important aspect of long-term maintenance is to work towards overcoming the social impacts of substance abuse and the social impact of substance abuse on the family.
While getting away from dangerous illegal drugs, such as illicit opioids, is important, and life-saving, reconnecting with family, and developing new and healthy friendships can be just as important. Medication assisted treatment with drugs such as Suboxone can help greatly to get past the economic and social consequences of drug use by helping the person in recovery to get their life back together.
The social implications of drug addiction and the social implications of illegal drug use are that a user of an illicit substance removes themselves from society and healthy socializing. During active addiction, a drug user will neglect their physical health by not eating properly, yet they also neglect their emotional health by not having healthy social interactions and connections.
How do drugs affect social health of the individual? They starve them of important social interactions by imposing isolation.
Effective addiction treatment of any kind should include, as part of the program, a plan for addressing these long-term social effects of drug abuse. Connecting with new friends who support addiction recovery can help, in addition to improving family relations.
How does substance abuse affect the community?
Is substance abuse a social problem that can have a negative effect on an entire community? What are the social consequences of drug trafficking and rampant drug use in a community?
Many communities have been seriously affected by wide spread drug use and the effects of drugs on many members of the community. There are small towns where a large percentage of residents are addicted to meth or addicted to opioids.
The same may happen within a close knit community or neighborhood, even within a large city. The social impacts of drug abuse on the community can be devastating.
There are neighborhoods where young children are employed by drug dealers to sell drugs on the streets. Even if these children do not end up using the drugs they sell, the effects of drugs and the drug culture and involvement in drug trafficking do have serious consequences for them.
Families are often torn apart by the consequences of drugs and drug use. Life after leaving an addict can be difficult, especially if the addicted person was a parent, leaving the other parent to manage the entire household.
Human services may get involved with the intent of helping the children, separating them from an addicted parent. Yet, wherever possible, providing successful treatment to the addicted parent and helping them to regain their position as a contributing member of the family is often the best solution.
The societal impacts of substance abuse treatment, by helping individuals get their lives back in order, can have a positive effect on the community. Overcoming the social effects of drug abuse for the individual can help to improve the functioning of the community.
How can I learn more about the social effects of drugs and the social effect of drug abuse on the individual and the community?
Listening to podcasts on recovery can help to learn more about these important issues. On our podcast, we interview experts in the field of addiction, as well as people who are recovering from addiction, to learn more about the social consequences of drug use and how to overcome them.
While the social effects of drug abuse can negatively affect families, sometimes family issues are part of the underlying causes that lead a person to addiction, such as with narcissistic abuse within a family structure. We discuss this issue of family involvement in addiction in various episodes on the podcast.
In addition to the podcast, we also have many articles on this website dedicated to the topic of drug and alcohol addiction and medical treatment for substance use disorders. Please take the time to search and explore through our library of content, and please let us know what you find most useful.
There is no doubt that the effect of drugs on society is a serious problem, but by learning more about harm reduction and effective treatment, we can help to make a difference. By helping individuals to overcome the social isolation and other social problems caused by addiction, we will also be working towards making our communities better places to live.
Addiction is a serious problem, especially addiction to dangerous substances such as opioids and alcohol. Fortunately, there is effective medical treatment for these addictions and there is much that can be done with the help of medical therapy and psychotherapy.