A significant concern confronting both in Australia and internationally is the use of illicit and recreational substances which in turn cause significant health issues and community apprehensions. Therefore the sociological imagination shall be applied to analyze the construction of this problem and reflect on strategies from the social model of health that could reduce this concern from a sociological perspective.
The use of illicit and recreational substances has been a controversial topic of this era. I hold specific notions regarding the usages of these drugs in the Australian context as well as in global scenario. In Australia, I feel it is more relevant as the usage of illicit drugs contribute a bulk proportion to the disease burdens that are now prevalent. The rampancy of the diseases is generally attributable to the use of opioids, cannabis, cocaine and amphetamines. As far as my knowledge goes, the popularization of illicit drugs was the revolutionary product of the counterculture of the 1960 s especially among the Australian youth that has further increased its prominence in the late 21st century (Degenhardt, Hall & Gartner, 2015). However, I feel the various government drives and policies that are enforced in the Australian sector aims to mitigate the harm in response to illicit drug use has not been completely effective in addressing the issue and more aggressive approaches and awareness is required to handle the scenario appropriately. The drug and drinking culture in Australia has been ingrained in the society. I feel that the reasons behind many of the mental problems are due to these age-old practices that are embedded in the societal framework. I believe the easy availability to drugs and exposure to alcohol as part of the cultural traditions have further accounted for the altered pattern of behaviors in the vulnerable population of adolescents and youth. The rising incidences for mental health problems in addition to other severe societal problems are direct manifestations of these practices that have infiltrated the society in a deeper manner (Bor et al., 2014). The disadvantaged groups consisting of the economically backward people are the ones primarily affected. In relation to my cultural context in Australia, I feel the Australian Aboriginals cultural practices vary considerably from rest that further leads to influencing the drug and drinking culture. Personally I feel that the use and abuse of drugs is a relative term where the appropriate administration of drugs is indicative of good health while chronic dependence on the drugs lead to addiction that in turn leads to deleterious effects. However, I do not attach any sort of stigma to groups of people who use drugs as I feel everyone hold their opinions and rationales behind indulging in such social behaviors. But certain lines must be drawn between use and abuse to mitigate the potential harms that might arise due to drug abuse. I believe the ones who are active in drug abuse do not conform to the societal norms and hence need to be attended carefully to bring them back to the mainstream.
I have personally experienced the cases where the victims of drug abuse have succumbed to pressure because of a sense of bonding experience. In other instances, they indulge in such behavior to provide relief from stress, to promote group solidarity and feelings associated to community and belonging part from deriving a sense of identity through exhibition of rebellious attitude. Further the cravings and lifestyle appeals appear glamorous to many that prompts them to behave accordingly (Beckwith et al., 2015). Confounding factors that govern this behavior may be attributed to educational institutions, healthcare institutions, medical profession, allied healthcare profession, alternative healthcare industry and state government that in turn regulate the factors affecting the drug abuse and use that may be essentially considered as social practices. I firmly believe that the complex interaction of these interrelated variables might account for harboring the necessary outcomes related to the drug and alcohol use and abuse. I am eager to curb this brimming issue by following proper measures to mitigate the negative effects of drug use and stigma. As a health professional I think more awareness and mass campaigns regarding the ill effects of substance abuse and alcoholism must be taught to people through definite initiatives that include holistic participation of all ends concerned through participation of all stakeholders (Van Wormer & Davis, 2016). I am definite that the social inclusion and support will render positive insight into this issue to reduce the concern.
Step 3: Historical Factors
Passing of legislations and criminalization and institutionalization related to drug problems have paved the way for stigmatization and labeling of the issue related to drug use and abuse. In the Australian context, the adoption of the National Drug Strategy subsequently facilitated the process by potentially minimizing the extents of harm caused. The strategy came into force from 1993 and was valid until 1997. The National Campaign Against Drug Abuse incepted from 1985 and focused to minimize the strategies relevant to supply, demand and harm (Maisto, Galizio & Connors, 2014). It aimed to elicit good health and socio-economic responses by abating the uptake of harmful drug use in addition to reduction in the detrimental effects of licit and illicit drugs (Germov, 2014). The direct legislative and enforcement responsibilities from the government has further added to regulate the drug usage and associated behaviors.
Rehabilitative legal responses encompass the effective utilization of the pragmatic preventive partnerships to ameliorate the drug-related harm rather than moral judgment. Therapeutic justice may be provided in the form of therapeutic jurisprudence by means of conducting studies related to how legal systems influence the mental health, emotion and behavior of the people (Bull et al., 2016). The wellbeing of the individuals and communities are regarded as the responsibilities of the justice system by rendering improved quality of justice (Richardson, Spencer & Wexler, 2016). Hence, the inclusion of the stringent legal framework for accounting improved health and well being of the communities by means of taking proper actions against the malpractice or substance abuse is found to be beneficial.
Culturally acceptable practices that may lead to drug abuse include the protective actions of certain drugs, ceremonial indulgence to the otherwise prohibited substance such as alcohol, degree of conformance to the native culture by a person through acculturation. Specific examples may be cited in case of the patterns related to the synthetic cannabinoid use in Australia. The recreational effects, legality, availability, non-detection in standard drug screening assays and therapeutic effects have been identified as the primary reasons for the cultural alignment promoting cannabinoid use (Barratt, Cakic & Lenton, 2013).
The mere lineage to certain cultural practices is often found to deviate under circumstances suggestive of the ill-effects associated to drug abuse. The desire to conform to established social customs often lead to disastrous consequences in case of individuals who are more prone to get affected than others. Empirical findings suggest that alcohol consumption among the young people is an issue of grave concern in Australia that gets transmitted to the adolescents from tender age through pathway and processes accounting for proalcohol norms. Under such circumstances, definite interventions are required to curb the menace by adopting suitable therapeutic and non-therapeutic strategies (Hildebrand et al., 2013).
Symbolic interactionism refers to a definite philosophy pertaining to sociological perspective that lays emphasis on the co-creation of the world through maintenance of meanings and definitions by following of specific human behavior that in turn are revealed by virtue of definite activities of individuals. The stigma of drug addiction relate to a set of negative beliefs that society holds about the people who practice it and often lead to discrimination and societal exclusion. The stigmatization of the drug abuse practitioners culminates in avoidance, rejection, prejudice and discrimination towards them. In this respect symbolic interactionism play crucial role as it lead to the generation of such ideals and behavioral attitudes (Vannini, 2016).
The role of the government and the healthcare institutions when it comes to Big Pharma and medicalization need to be proactive to foster better healthcare facilities and services. The stringent actions and pre-defined policies of the government will ensure bridging the gaps that exist in the existing healthcare sectors. In matter pertaining to substance abuse, specific and case appropriate measures are to be taken that rightly address the pertinent issues. The pharmaceutical companies who are practicing to cater to the needs and demands of the people and not just operating for fulfilling their sinister purposes excluding the greater welfare of the care receivers. The healthcare institutions further should emphasize upon medicalizing the needs of the patients who are victims of substance abuse scenarios. Instead of excluding them from the existing healthcare services, greater emphasis should be laid on properly addressing their issues and acting in accordance (Gabe et al., 2015). The principal harm minimization strategies that may be used to reduce the negative effects of drug use may be through rendering of effective social support that might prevent a person from engaging in malpractice or socially unacceptable behaviors in conjunction with psychological counseling that might be beneficial.
The dominance of ‘Big Pharma’ and medicalization has raised concerns of placing profit above health in Australia. Findings from relevant bodies suggest that mislabeling of everyday problems as mental issues has alarming implications for both the society and individual alike. Unnecessary and unrequited medicine administration, misallocation of the clinical resources coupled with draining of finances and budgets concerning the family are some of the major drawbacks (Frances, 2013).
The options available for improved health in Australia need to emanate from within oneself and through increased awareness regarding the healthcare infrastructure. A cost-effectiveness modeling study has recommended the relaxation of taxes and offering of subsidies in order to foster enhanced population health and nutritional status of the dwellers in Australia (Cobiac et al., 2017). The social model of health may be further applied in the context of reducing the societal fear and stigma by resorting to community and strength based approaches. Social identity transition is a novel way of addressing the issue of stigma mitigation by means of applying the various social influences in an effective manner. The broader aspects of health in relation to its social determinants involving the cultural, economic and environmental factors rather than the mere disease, illness or injury may be beneficial in this regard. Attention is to be given to the health promotion through proper implementation of education and policies (Best et al., 2016).
The completion of this task helped me to achieve one of the four desirable Graduate attributes. I gained appropriate knowledge thereby aiding in thinking critically and reflecting suitably. Further insight and information regarding certain typical sociological concepts and paradigms were procured in course of doing the task. Appropriate knowledge, skills and attitudes pertinent to health and sociology was demonstrated as well. Moreover it helped me to address and resolve complex problems applicable to a diverse array of settings taking local and international perspective into account. I gained sufficient information and insight regarding the issue of substance abuse prevalent in Australia in addition to the mitigation strategies that may be utilized to prevent unprecedented circumstances in near future. The roles of the government and healthcare institutions in this respect were found to be integral. Thus I feel deeply enriched after completion of this task.
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