Type: Exploratory Essays
Sample donated: Bob Grant
Last updated: August 17, 2019
Andrew GuillaumeThe Social Strain Theory on Drug Crime Drug crime in the United States has existed for a very long time and has been causing serious problems for the nation. Generation after generation, drugs have been affecting lives and sometimes even takes them through means of abuse or violence. Street crime has risen to extreme levels throughout the years, tearing cities apart and ruining the lives of the younger population. The punishment for drug crimes are even more severe, even by only making a small mistake it could cost several years in prison. Drugs are an epidemic, they have already affected the nation in a negative manner and the influence is continuing to spread. In recent studies, we see that the war on drugs has had little impact and sometimes made matters even worse. What drives people to commit these drug crimes and resort to criminal acts to sustain their drug addiction? Through the explanation of the social strain theory and scholarly articles related to drug crime, this paper will discus how and why drug crime occurs throughout our nation.
There are several types of drug crimes including paraphernalia, possession, manufacturing/delivery, trafficking and dealing. In an article by an Attorney at Law Richard Miller, he states that drugs have had their many uses throughout the years for good and for bad. They’ve had their medicinal use but have also been abused and taken as a dangerous substance. Drug abuse takes forms in several ways, people can overdose substances that can severely harm them that may lead to their deaths. Prescriptions can also be abused by people exchanging their prescriptive medications to others or by incorrectly following that prescription. The effects drug abuse can have on the nation is large scale, everyone can be affected by it and non abusers may even have to pay for it (Miller). Punishment for drug crimes can cost both the criminals and the public lots of money. This situation brings mass concern for future generations of this drug epidemic.
By stating the risks of committing these drug crimes, people still do them and face severe consequences. Offenders risk their time, money, social life and even their own lives by taking part in drug crimes and abuse. The drive that these people continue to show appals the population as well as analysts considering crime rates related to drugs is still high. With the social strain theory adding into the concept, studies have shown examples of the reasons behind why people do what they know is illegal. According to in class discussion, the social strain theory is a criminological theory developed by Robert Merton. Basically, it describes social situations that drive people into deviant acts.
When a person in society does not have the means to achieve their goals, the strain upon that person drives them to deviant behaviors. In a recent video that goes more in-depth into Merton’s strain theory, it shows that people can adapt to strain in several ways including conformity, innovation, ritualism, retreatism and rebellion (Psy 2014). Through conformity. the theory states that people under the strain of their social status still pursue their goals without resorting to deviant acts.
Innovation is where illegal activity comes into play, such as people achieving their goals through obtaining money illegally by trading illegal substances or dealing drugs. With ritualism, people find that achieving their goals is difficult so they drop them but they carry on without deviant behavior. Retreatism is when people find that society is unbearable and they stop becoming functioning members of society.
Lastly, rebellion is when people go about to change social means and goals to achieve social change within society. In conclusion of the video, it explains that Merton’s strain theory emphasizes the statistical crime rates as higher when correlated with the working class who struggle to reach their goals without resorting to deviant means (Psy 2014). This theory can describe how the process is affecting our younger generations especially in the college field. Strain from school or pressure from other peers restricting their goals may result in a student taking or abusing illicit drugs rather than the legal alternative of alcohol or tobacco. On a recent article by Schroeder and Ford, “College students are usually more prone to abusing prescription drugs because they are seen as more socially acceptable than other illegal drugs” (Schroeder, Ford 2012). According to this, if people find situations more socially acceptable they are going to do it.
Also, based off the findings of another research article by Quintero, Peterson and Young, soft drugs such as marijuana were seen as harmless substances that were acceptable on the same level of alcohol and tobacco among college students (Quintero et al, 2006). On the basis of these findings, if college students conform to the idea that these drugs are not dangerous they begin to affect the entire campus inviting other students to conform with the idea. Along with this idea, college students who find themselves mostly poor may resort to the convenience of selling drugs to make money they essentially need as a full time job may affect grades throughout the semesters.
Social strain theory can also apply to people using illegal drugs as coping methods for various social problems as described in a research article by Grothoff, Kempf and Mullins. According to this article, drugs are commonly used because of their easy availability and the wide range of types of substances within the field. The authors state that, “illegal drugs have lower perceivability on the severity of these acts” (Grothoff et al, 2014). With this in mind, by society pressing strain into these people, drugs are seen as a scapegoat and many people do not realize the consequences of committing these deviant acts can have against them. In the same article, the authors highlight that females in a distraught family relationship are more likely to resort to using drugs. Also, negative relationships have shown it causes a rise in adolescents using drugs.
With this situation, we can see that strain on this level can affect all people especially those who are seen in broken homes. Children who develop in a bad atmosphere can develop a coping habit by resorting to drugs. On the basis of crime relation to communities based off the strain theory, a journal titled “A General Strain Theory of Community Differences In Crime rates” composed by Robert Agnew, states that “high crime communities tend to be poor, urban, dense and overcrowded, transient and populated by non-whites and disrupted families.
” This statement makes sense considering strain is put onto these people who lack means to achieve their goals. The people who live in these areas have no choice but to resort to illegal measures in order to survive or function in society. The author also points out that individuals who are affected by the strain may interact with others affected, increasing social tension and further escalating the situation. With this idea in mind, people affected by this strain can cause a pandemic inside a community which also can explain the rise in crime levels within a community. Communities that have less social strain upon it obviously have less crime rates and these communities probably consist of higher social standing individuals that have means of obtaining their goals. Relating to rising drug crime, the war on drugs caused even more widespread problems relating to strain on society. When acts were issued on the nation, the prohibition of drugs was enforced strictly by the government and drug interventions began to rise.
These programs gave rise to several problems including racial injustice, unsafe neighborhoods, public health and more according to an article titled “10 Ways the Drug War Is Causing Massive Collateral Damage to Our Society” by Tony Newman. By causing racial tensions with the help of the war on drugs, these specific races are targeted and labeled deviant by society. These specific people obtain social strain because of their label, thus stopping them from pursuing their goals legally. For example, if they were rejected a job because of their race they might resort to selling drugs to make an income. The article also describes that unsafe neighborhoods are created by an uprising of criminal organizations combating the war on drugs with means of violence, correlating with the alcohol prohibition effect. CitationsMiller, Richard S. “What Types of Charges Are Involved in a Drug Crime?” Hg.org, www.
hg.org/article.asp?id=26166. Schroeder, Ryan D., and Jason A. Ford.
“Prescription Drug Misuse: A Test of Three Competing Criminological Theories.” Sage Journals, Journal of Drug Issues, Jan. 2012, journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0022042612436654#articleCitationDownloadContainer. Accessed 6 Dec. 2017.
Quintero, G., Peterson, J., Young, B. (2006). An exploratory study of socio-cultural factors contributing to prescription drug misuse among college students. Journal of Drug Issues, 36,903-931 http://scholar.google.com/scholar_lookup?hl=en=2006=903-931=G.
+Quintero=J.+Peterson=B.+Young=An+exploratory+study+of+socio-cultural+factors+contributing+to+prescription+drug+misuse+among+college+students’s Strain Theory. Cline Psy, Youtube, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fsTFx6xZ2M.
Accessed 6 Dec. 2017.Grothoff, Garrett, Kimberly Kempf, and Christopher Mullins. “Gender and Juvenile Drug Abuse: A General Strain Theory Perspective.” Women and Criminal Justice, vol. 24, no.
1, 21 Jan. 2014, pp. 22-53, www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/08974454.2013.842519?scroll=top&needAccess=true.
Accessed 6 Dec. 2017.Agnew, Robert. “A General Strain Theory of Community Differences In Crime rates.” Sage, vol.
36, no. 2, 1 May 1999, pp. 123-55, journals.sagepub.
com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0022427899036002001. Accessed 6 Dec. 2017.Newman, Tony. “10 Ways the Drug War Is Causing Massive Collateral Damage to Our Society.” Alternet, Alternet, 3 Jan. 2013, https://www.
alternet.org/10-ways-drug-war-causing-massive-collateral-damage-our-society. Accessed 6 Dec. 2017.