Psychology of drug prohibition"drug prohibition maximises rather than minimises drug related harm" critically assess. what psychological/socialogical explanations are there as to why prohibition...

Psychology of drug prohibition

"drug prohibition maximises rather than minimises drug related harm" critically assess.

  • what psychological/socialogical explanations are there as to why prohibition does not reduce drug related harm
  • what psychological/socialogical explanations are there as to why prohibition is need
Expert Answers
M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Trying to de-criminalize the use of drugs in order to try to control its illegal usage is no different in terms of results than trying to make alcohol illegal during the Prohibition. In fact, it is said that during the Prohibition the consumption of alcohol "under the table" was wilder and more expansive than after the Prohibition was repealed. So, as we can see, it is human nature at its best. The problem with drugs is that their impurity and the lacing of alternative chemicals is what really kills people and puts them at risk. Yet, as you can see, temptation and the thrill of doing something challenging negatively motivates many impressionable youths. Therefore, it is one of those things in which we really do not have as much control as we think that we do. Therefore, the best we can do is continue to educate ourselves and others. We must help our children realize that doing drugs is not a rite of passage, but an option that can lead to no good.

wannam eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Just to look at this from a totally different angle, the drugs themselves can actually be more harmful because they aren't regulated. Alcohol and tobacco are closely monitored. We know exactly which pesticides have been sprayed on the tobacco and we know what the effects are. We know exactly what the alcohol content of a beer is and what ingredients were used in the process. This type of regulation obviously doesn't happen with illegal drugs. There's no way to know what chemicals were used to make certain street drugs. There's no way to know what pesticides or dangerous additives are in the illicit materials. The risk of a drug being harmful increases when it is created illegally.
bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Pohnpei makes a good point in the previous post. Often, the "forbidden fruit" is the one most likely to be sampled, especially by young people or adults who have never tried recreational drugs. It stands to reason that if certain drugs were legal to obtain, many people would never have the urge to try them more than once. People with addictive habits may still fall victim to some drugs--whether legal or illegal--but at least the incredibly expensive "war on drugs" would be reduced or eliminated; and we would stop filling our prisons with citizens guilty only of drug possession--for the most part, non-violent crimes which involve no other victims.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I tend to debunk the forbidden fruit argument a bit.  While I think there is an element of this in drug use and abuse, I would say the vast majority who try drugs for the first time are not doing so just to flout the government's authority.  There are a host of other reasons, not the least of which is the high, and then the resulting possible addiction.  There are social pressures, people who "self-medicate" and the list goes on and on.

I would think drug prohibition ranks far down the list as either an inhibitor or a motivator for peoples individual behaviors when it comes to illegal drugs.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You could argue that prohibiting drugs makes them seem more attractive, particularly to young people.  There are people for whom anything that is forbidden seems attractive exactly because it is forbidden.  To such people, using drugs becomes a thrilling thing to do because they know they are doing something that they are not supposed to do.  To this sort of person, prohibition is more likely to increase drug related harm than to decrease it.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
By criminalizing drug use, we do start a vicious cycle. Arrest and jail time results in exposure to other bad influences. Since drugs are difficult to get, and expensive, users resort to other illegal activities to support their habit. Users are almost always addicts, so just making the drug illegal does not prevent them from using. They sill get what they need, usually in much more dangerous ways.
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In accord with post #6, the thrill of breaking the law with drugs is below the other motivators that accompany drug usage.  With all the stresses upon people nowadays, drugs are an escape, and this escape is what many seek.