Drug Abuse and Homelessness
The contemporary society lives in the era of fast-moving development, which leads to the inability to concentrate on the significant social problems preventing people from evolution. Unfortunately, the government continues to neglect human needs by creating inequality between the individuals. It leads to the failure to satisfy these needs. In this way, the society has to face natural struggle, which makes people come to the inappropriate life choices. The discussion reveals the contemporary state of drug abuse and homelessness from the sociological point of view. It becomes easy to understand every issue by conducting sociological analysis of the above-mentioned problems along with finding explanation with the help of Marxist sociological paradigm. In fact, the sociological aspect of drug abuse and homelessness lies in the human selfish nature aimed at satisfying personal needs based on the governmental inconsistent distribution of finances leading to the survival mode.
Homeless youth has to face various challenges in its survival that results in the threatening risk of involving in substance abuse. According to Green, de la Haye, Tucker, and Golinelli, “Homeless youth were found to use alcohol and drugs with members of their network who engaged in a range of risky behaviors.” The study reveals that homelessness becomes a significant trigger for the young people incapable to control personal behavior and falling under the influence of peers. Another article continues to discuss widespread social problems of homelessness and substance abuse and evaluates the connection between them. According to Tompsett, Domoff, and Toro, the problem of homeless youth does not refer to the negative influence of substance abuse, which its peers perform. In addition, the authors conducted the study, which revealed that significant percentage of homeless young people had peers not influenced by homelessness who used drugs and alcohol due to the stressors other than those related to the research.
As a result, not every case of homelessness or drug abuse has emerges due to the impact of unhealthy decisions of peers. Slesnick, Glassman, Katafiasz, and Collins continue to develop the topic and investigate in their article the experience of mothers with substance abuse. In particular, the authors make it clear that drug-abusing mothers require a specific approach in the treatment programs aimed at building and strengthening their confidence in personal behavioral patterns as well as integrating effective childcare. The relationship between a therapist and a patient is also crucial to the success of the treatment. Further, Slesnick and Guo reflect on the importance of therapy and desire of substance-abusing mothers to get assistance. The authors found it necessary to prove that substance-abusive mothers were ready to engage in the therapeutic process, which should support their relations with children and other family members.
Sociological Analysis of Drug Abuse
Today, people call drugs all substances with psychoactive influence on human mind, which results in abnormal behavioral patterns. In fact, the society created a label, which encompasses a narrow range of psychoactive chemical substances. However, the abuse of alcohol and tobacco also leads to the occurrence of abnormal behavior, which, consequently, relates to the psychoactive action of substances as well. People do not consider alcohol or cigarettes drugs since they are not parts of the commonly shared stereotype. In fact, many chemical substances labeled as drugs have beneficial influence on health and are used in medicine. However, the social context made them drugs due to the widespread abuse leading to the anxiety, addiction, and aggression.
Drug abuse refers to the use of chemical substances beyond the medical context. In fact, the culture defines the nature of drug abuse and the influence of various substances on human organism. For example, in the USA, the heroin is considered a dangerous drug while morphine is medicine. People also consider smoking marijuana or taking LSD the worst unhealthy habits while citizens of Netherlands have a positive viewpoint on drugs. In fact, none of the nations has ever thought that tobacco and alcohol were drugs. In addition, the family composition, behavioral patterns of the family, and everyday activity define the risk factors of facing drug abuse by one of its members.
Teenagers formulate one of the risk groups of drug abuse, which has significant influence on youth. If they come home after school and stay alone for a long time waiting for parents, they are most likely to make unhealthy choices. Moreover, according to c et al.:
“Homeless youth were found to use alcohol and drugs with members of their network who engaged in a range of risky behaviors: they were likely to drink with network members who engaged in drug use and risky sex, and they were likely to use drugs with network members who drank to intoxication and engaged in risky sex.”
It is a social phenomenon, which occurs due to the non-attentive relations between parents and their children. Tompsett et al. also explains that there is a significant influence of the behavior of peers leading to drug abuse, which may cease during early adulthood or may continue to have a destructive effect on human body.
The explanation of the widespread problem of drug abuse from the social point of view can be found in the Conflict Theory. Disorganized neighborhood, lower social classes, and politically powerless regions are the primary areas of the concentrated problem of drug abuse. Unfortunately, the individuals who reach the bottom line of poverty are the ones suffering from this dangerous habit. It is a common behavioral pattern, which becomes a trigger to the worsening of health conditions and loss of interest in social interactions. In fact, excessive drug abuse is the key to the loss of property and job, which leads to homelessness.
Sociological Analysis of Homelessness
Regardless of the scope and influence of homelessness, the sociological background of the problem has never found enough support and explanation in studies and research projects. In the USA, homelessness started rising from 1980s. The definition of the problem reveals that it is the continuous absence of permanent place of residence, poor living conditions and housing characteristics. Vagrancy is the primary characteristic feature of homelessness, which takes place since an individual cannot handle the financial problems. The typical reasons for homelessness are substance abuse, unemployment, and mental disabilities. Nevertheless, men represent the main risk group facing the issue. Women, in their turn, undergo homelessness along with their children in the majority of cases because of inability to pay for the apartments. Mothers show outstanding vulnerability to homelessness since they can hardly withstand the problems without support by their side. According to Slesnick and Guo, “Homeless mothers have the additional responsibility of caring for their children and may experience additional stressors associated with parenting in general”. Thus, women may suffer from health problems, including alcohol and drug abuse, due to the inability to take care of their children.
Social perception of the problem is one of the triggers of homelessness, which does not allow reducing the issue. A commonly shared stereotype is connected with the idea that homeless people are lazy and do not want to change their lifestyle. The society shows sympathy for them and, at the same time, refuses to invest in the programs aimed at solving the problem of homelessness. It happens for the reason of the existence of different prejudices, which penetrate the contemporary communities. The combination of stereotypes includes criminal history, substance abuse, and even discrimination based on the color of a homeless person. According to Slesnick et al., “Criminal records, poor credit histories, prior evictions, and lack of employment negatively affect the number of housing choices available, especially given that some landlords will not rent to individuals with one or more of those problems.” From this point of view, it becomes challenging for the homeless to return to normal life without the assistance of social agencies.
The social context of the issue also represents the economic problems of homeless people, which emerge due to the governmental financial distribution. The contemporary society lives in terms of capitalism, which leads to the social inequality. However, the government does not see its failures in personal attitude towards the financial distribution between social layers. As a result, people mistakenly believe that the reasons for homelessness lie in the natural law, inconsistent administration, and private life challenges. The structural stratification is the main cause of the social inequality in the labor market. It leads to the development of marginal financial status of individuals. As a result, the economic conditions, which the government creates, in combination with social stereotypes become the initial reason for rising inequality.
Marxism is the most appropriate sociological paradigm, which can help to see the essence of the problems of drug abuse and homelessness based on social construction. The idea of Marxism is that the elite of the society exploits other social layers that may lead to the collapse of the less stable social groups. In general, the contemporary situation with drug abuse and homelessness is the result of pressure, which comes from the upper layers of the society. Regardless of the fact that it is necessary to take immediate actions in order to protect the society from the severe consequences of inequality, people continue to focus on personal needs and taking of dominating positions. Several aspects of social construction, which contribute to the development of social problems, should be discussed on the basis of Marxism and its theoretical aspects.
First, it is worth mentioning that the society exists in the state of continuous competition, which prevents individuals from working in terms of cooperation. The primary goal of every person is gaining enough power to dominate above others. As a result, the conflict aspect penetrates human relations due to the continuous fight for welfare and financial stability. The lack of unity and mutual support is the primary reason for the existence of myriad of social problems, which continue to increase their influence. Concerning drug abuse and homelessness, the Marxism social paradigm emphasizes the indifference of the society towards the problems of the minorities. Even people facing drug abuse and homelessness continue to compete with others and involve into conflicts in order to care of their needs. According to the contemporary social construction, drug addicts and homeless people do not deserve the attention of powerful individuals since they consider vulnerable people not worth of respect because they failed to win the competition.
Second, the Marxism explains that every society has the minority of elites. This segment of the community usually relates to the global industries, which provide individuals with enough power to influence those who do not have the same preferences. In this way, the peak of success does not allow the elites to see the initial problems of the society. In simple words, powerful elites do not care about the problems of the lower layers as long as they have already achieved their goals and won the competition. The elites create the examples for people standing at the lower stages of competition and conflict. As a result, the whole society follows the same behavioral patterns in order to gain the same success without paying attention to the problems of other social groups.
Finally, the Marxism explains that social action is the phenomenon of interaction between dominant and secondary groups of the society, which face exploitation. Unfortunately, the social action aimed at finding the solution of homelessness and drug abuse problems does not have frequent character. There are attempts to solve the problems, which do not lead to the significant improvement because of the above-mentioned characteristics of the social construction. A selfish approach continues to make the majority of dominating people indifferent and careless. In this way, it is logical to consider the solution of the problem based on the Marxist sociological paradigm.
The detailed explanation of the triggers of drug abuse and homelessness from the sociological point of view proves that it is necessary to establish a comprehensive program aimed at eliminating the problems. First, it is necessary to raise the awareness of the society of personal selfishness and egocentrism, the goal of which is to fulfill personal needs without thinking about other people. It is the major barrier towards the reduction of social problems. For example, social agencies may unite in order to create a social program, which will use mass media for turning attention of the dominating and secondary layers of the society to the issues.
It is possible to share the stories of those who faced drug abuse and homelessness and show that the society is the initial cause of the development of social problems. The billboards, radio, TV, and Internet should be helpful in motivating people to help those who have to sleep in the street. Second, it is essential to continue engaging people into volunteering projects, which will contribute to the adaptation of drug addicts and homeless persons in the contemporary society. In this way, it will demonstrate people the idea that drug abuse and homelessness is a commonly shared problem of the whole society. Finally, the government should reconsider its investment policy and financial distribution in order to ensure that people live in equality and harmony that does not require them to engage in conflicts and competition to fight for personal welfare.
The discussion proves that the social problems of drug abuse and homelessness have a complex nature, which leads to the emergence of idea that people are guilty of continuing the development of the issues. The sociological analysis of the problems shows that people become helpless under the pressure of social inequality, which the government causes. As a result, even the worst life conditions do not encourage them to take advantage of social agencies help. The reason for this is the self-pride. The government did not manage to create equal opportunities for every citizen regardless of his/her actions, support anti-discrimination policies, and succeed in attempts to combat poverty. The problem lies in the social construction, which prevents individuals from avoiding drug abuse and homelessness. If people continued leading selfish lifestyle, it would be impossible to take care of the future generations by providing them with equal opportunities. Social agencies should unite for raising public awareness of the problems, which continue to destroy the lives of millions of people. In this way, it will be possible to combat the indifference, which prevents the society from living in peace without conflicts and competition. The future will show whether there is any progress in fostering humanity in people. However, the contemporary situation remains disappointing.