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Selling Illegal Drugs: Psychological Reasons Essay

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Updated: Jun 3rd, 2020


One fundamental question that comes to one’s mind is why people sell illegal drugs. However, one must note that selling of illegal drugs is a human behavior. This is a behavior, which is socially unacceptable because illegal drugs have harmful effects on their users. Generally, there are motivations and thoughts, which drive such behaviors in people. Psychology should help us to understand why people engage in selling illegal drugs. In addition, one ought to understand the role of the environment in such cases. This is antisocial personality behavior and disregard for social norms, which starts from a person’s mind.

The Situation of Selling Illegal Drugs

Drugs are important in alleviating illnesses and discomfort in people. However, there are certain regulated drugs, which are harmful to users because they cause severe health problems and addiction. As a result, authorities have banned such drugs. Nevertheless, illegal drugs find their ways in the streets. The society is aware of the prevalence of selling of illegal drugs. Majorities who sell and abuse illegal drugs are mainly youths.

Selling of illegal drugs is an act of antisocial behavior, which is socially unacceptable. Such people do not follow a set of laws, which provide order in society. Instead, they display behaviors, which do not conform to norms, and they tend to be aggressive and dishonest. The focus of individuals who sell drugs has been self-centered. The tendency to reject the expected behaviors in society originates from one’s own mind and motivations. People who sell drugs define laws, authorities, and establish their norms, which reflect criminal tendencies.

Selling illegal drugs also make such people to be aggressive and repulsive toward others because selling of illegal drugs is deviant behavior in society. It is important to understand the role of the mind and environments and their impacts on people who sell drugs. From psychological perspectives, one can understand thought processes, motivations, and intentions of people who engage in selling illegal drugs. Selling illegal drugs is usually a copied behavior that may have environmental influences based on societal norms. At the same time, it would also be important to explore the role of hereditary in such cases.

Analysis of the social, cultural, and spiritual influences on the individual’s behavior and his or her ethics

Social influences have significant impacts on behaviors of individuals who sell drugs. Such influences affect one’s thoughts, behaviors, and actions. Society and social groups are responsible for shaping illegal activities of people who engage in selling illegal drugs. In most cases, disorganized societies are responsible for antisocial behaviors among individuals. People who engage in selling illegal drugs could be from broken homes, crime zones, and unstable families, which highly influence their social behaviors and criminal conducts. Social groups may introduce a person to a culture of selling illegal drugs. A bad culture in which one grows up has a critical role in the development of a person’s antisocial behaviors and deviant tendencies like selling illegal drugs. For instance, if one associates with a bad company, it would influence him or her, and the persona may learn the group’s undesired behaviors.

People who sell illegal drugs may also have spiritual views and claim assert they do not have any controls on their behaviors or thought. Instead, they get such powers from unknown worlds. Overall, one must note that a person who sells illegal drugs may disregard ethical concepts of good or bad and choose his or her own lifestyle (Chen and Risen, 2010).

The reciprocal relationship between behavior and attitudes

People tend to focus on portraying their desired behaviors and act in a similar manner to reflect such attitudes and thinking. In this case, a person who believes in selling illegal drugs and aggression would only champion such behaviors and actions, and he or she will likely to believe in their influences. Myers shows that behaviors and attitudes have reciprocal relationships (Myers, 2010). In other words, one can think of being aggressive and act in a manner that would affect the way he or she thinks. Behaviors have the ability to project one’s thoughts and attitudes, which influence the subsequent action, particularly when one believes that he or she is responsible for his or her actions.

A person who sells illegal drugs knows that he or she causes social disorder through deviant and antisocial behaviors. Moreover, the person also knows the negative effects of illegal drugs on users. Rationalization in such people may result into ethical dilemma about the need to project good deeds and behaviors against harming others and society. Any changes in such people, to make their behaviors and attitudes consistent, result in lessening cognitive dissonance. This should create congruence between behaviors and beliefs.

Using cognitive dissonance theory to rationalize selling illegal drugs

In some cases, a person’s actions may conflict with his or her attitudes. This may lead to a change of attitudes for consistency with actions. A person who sells illegal drugs may justify his or her behavior by changing his attitudes and claim that selling illegal drugs was justified in his or her situation when faced with cognitive dissonance. The person may claim that he can only sell illegal drugs in his or her status, and this is a decision that supports his attitude toward selling drugs and being antisocial. The person believes that selling illegal drugs is important and acceptable in his or her situation. However, when he or she relieves cognitive dissonance, the person would wish to change his or her attitude and support the desired behavior (Van Veen, Krug, Schooler and Carter, 2009). This is a rationalization process.

When the person begins to rationalize his or her behavior, he or she would realize that selling illegal drugs does not improve his or her situation. Instead, it only creates unacceptable behaviors and outcomes in society. The feeling of revulsion and guilt with one’s self may make the person to change his or her behaviors (Fointiat, 2004). In addition, the person may change his attitude later if he or she faces the same situation.


Social, cultural, and spiritual influences may affect one’s behaviors and attitudes. As a result, an individual may begin to rationalize his or her behaviors and attitudes in order to establish congruence. However, this may not be the case, as it creates discomfort. Cognitive dissonance makes the person to rationalize his or her behaviors and actions in order to lessen the tension as a way of accommodating such behaviors. This is a process of attempting to justify an act of selling illegal drugs and antisocial behaviors. As a result, cognitive dissonance will help the person to establish congruence between his or her attitudes and behaviors, and lessen inner conflicts.


Chen, K., and Risen, L. (2010). How choice affects and reflects preferences: Revisiting the free-choice paradigm. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99(4), 573-594.

Fointiat, V. (2004). I know what I have to do, but…When hypocrisy leads to behavioral change. Social Behavior and Personality, 32, 741-746.

Myers, D. (2010). Social psychology (10th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Van Veen, V., Krug, K., Schooler, W., and Carter, S. (2009). Neural activity predicts attitude change in cognitive dissonance. Nature Neuroscience, 12(11), 1469-1474. Web.

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