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Researching Chemical Dependence Essay

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Updated: Sep 13th, 2022


Substance abuse is a serious issue for American society. Substance abuse negatively affects the lives of the abusers and their friends and family, it increases the rates of criminal activity and morbidity in the country and carries enormous financial costs for the government.

Sociocultural Determinants

The rates of substance abuse can be determined by a list of biological factors (such as genetics, gender, race or age), environmental factors (such as districts, families and communities) and economic factors (such as low income, imprisonment, insufficient education or homelessness). Overall, substance abuse patterns depend on drug-specific and non-drug specific social and cultural impacts, during particular periods of time and various communities certain types of drugs tend to be viewed as fashionable or acceptable.

Widespread Use

Among the most widely abused drugs in the United States there are prescription medications (painkillers, antidepressants, cough and cold syrups or pills, they are especially commonly abused by high school students. Another widely abused substance is alcohol. The rates of obsessive or excessive drinking among young adults are very disturbing around 40% of young people before 30 years old are heavy drinkers (Substance Abuse, 2015).

Financial costs

Substance abuse is a very costly problem. The amount of money the American government has been spending on this issue is estimated at close to 190 billion dollars annually (Magnitude, n. d.). As a massive public health problem substance abuse causes cancer, HIV/AIDS, heart disease leading to higher healthcare expenses. Besides, this problem increases the costs of law enforcement and imprisonment and deprives the country of a significant number of young and productive individuals who could have contributed to the nation’s wellbeing.

Psychological and Physical Costs

It is a well-known fact that chemical dependency is a source of a wide variety of health issues for addicts. Namely, substance abuse destroys their bodies and minds. Physically, drug users suffer from abdominal pain, indigestion, liver damage, seizures, strokes, loss of sleep, heart and kidney issues. Psychologically, the effects are just as severe. Substance abusers experience serious depressions, outbursts of aggression, violent and risky behaviors, anxieties, fears and frustrations.

Crimes and Accidents

Substance abuse contributes to criminal behaviors such as violence, drugged driving and road accidents as outcomes, physical abuse. At least one-quarter of all imprisoned individuals in the United States demonstrate dependence on alcohol (Crime and Substance Abuse, 2015). Besides, robberies and prostitution often result from the need of drug addicts to support their habit.

Suicide, Homicides and Interpersonal Relationships

Drug abuse is related to the increased rates of suicide among adolescents and young adults. People who were diagnosed with drug addiction are six times more likely to commit a suicide attempt than those who are not addicts (Ilgen & Kleinberg, 2011). When it comes to interpersonal relationships, the level of happiness in couples where one or both of the partners are substance abusers is very low. Alcohol and substance abuse is one of the most common causes of divorce and breakups.

Defense Mechanisms


This defense mechanism is used to help an addict resolve the internal conflict concerning their practice. Rationalization is recognized when a person is trying to minimize the effect of their habit stating that “it is not that bad” or convincing themselves that quitting would not be difficult (Garrett, 2012). Rationalization helps an addict to minimize the size of their problem and treat it as a minor and insignificant happening.


Denial is a defense mechanism that is much more primitive than rationalization. Denial is a person’s refusal to accept the fact of an existing habit. People who are in denial tend to ignore their addictions and negatively react to the attempts of others to point out the problem they have. When a person is addicted to a particular substance their existence becomes organized around the fulfillment of the needs for substance intake, as a result, a user fails to recognize their abuse as an actual issue (Garrett, 2012).


This defense mechanism is used to reduce a person’s stress related to coping with the problem. Intellectualizing a problem one would tend to think about it in a scientific way. For example, one would study the causes and outcomes of the problem, conduct research in order to distance oneself from having to deal with the actual issue. Intellectualization is psychologically helpful because it assumes a cold and distant approach towards the problem and creates an illusion that an affected person has everything under control and treats their issue wisely.

Reaction Formation

Reaction formation refers to the adoption of the feelings and emotions opposite to those a person experiences in reality. Reaction formation helps to hide the unpleasant feelings. In substance abuse, reaction formation might be expressed in a way opposite to denial; and make an individual regularly talk about their problem without referring to it as a problem or even joking about it to show that the issue is minor or inexistent.


Displacement refers to emotions and feelings caused by a certain issue transferred to another aspect of life. Commonly, displaced emotions are irrational and can be triggered by insignificant factors. A person displacing their frustration about drug abuse may start to engage in risky or aggressive behaviors, focus on work or creativity.

Reference List

Crime and Substance Abuse. (2015). Alcohol Rehab. Web.

Garrett, F. P. (2012). Addiction and Its Mechanisms of Defense. Web.

Ilgen, M., & Kleinberg, F. (2011). The Link between Substance Abuse, Violence, and Suicide. Web.

Magnitude. (n. d.). NIDA. Web.

Substance Abuse. (2014). Healthy People. Web.

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