Social Institutional Problems

Social Institutional Problems


Sociology is an educational field that focuses in human behaviors study in regards to their origin, growth, coordination and institutionalization as a way of understanding how different aspects of life in any society came into being. It is an academic branch that helps in explaining different areas of life. The idea is mainly concerned on different human life aspects that make up a given society in that it studies the behaviors of humans in a social setting.

Similarly, the discipline concentrates on understanding the behavior of humans to create a framework that can be utilized to explain relationships existing in the society that can range from simple contract people to global societal interactions between different people (Adam, 2004).

Sociological imaginations describe the kind of insight that can be generated from sociology to help in understanding day to day life activities. According to Maxham (2011), sociological creativity defines clear relationship that can exist between different experiences in life and the greater society. It also defines the process under which creative thoughts can be used in asking and answering certain sociological questions.

Using sociological creativity to understand social life is essential as it helps to understand different life aspects as well as their outcomes. It also helps to understand how different things that people in any given society affect the others. In specific, it enhances a person’s ability to see things from a social perspective thus, being in a position to understand how their relationships can lead to results that can possibly influence others in the greater society.

Therefore, this paper evaluates drug abuse as a social issue in order to understand how it affects social life.

Literature Review on Drug Abuse

Drug abuse also known as substance abuse is one of the sociological issues that affect people in the society today. It defines the patterned substance use and addictive drugs in way that is not acceptable, mainly involving large quantities of drugs via methods that lead to harmful effects on the user and the community at large. Which this may mainly involve medical or psychoactive drug consumption for non-therapeutic reasons, it has been rated as a social issue than a personal one because it not only affects the person using the drug but it extends to other members of the society especially those dependent on the person.

Different scholars have carried out extensive research on this concept as a social issue as a way of determining its overall effect on the wider society. They have ranked it among the major sociological factors that shape a person’s behavior which, may in the end, affect his or her social life leading to certain outcomes.

Research on Drug Abuse According to Claude Douglas

This paper was mainly purposed to investigate different issues leading to drug abuse amongst the youths as a way of understanding how the issue affects the people in the society. While some scholars have argued that youths can consume drugs for personal reasons, Claude attributes social reasons including unemployment and peer pressure as the major factors leading to abuse of drugs by the youths.

The author applied sociological theories to explain the effects and causes of marijuana and alcohol use among the youths. The author in this regard was in a position to understand social issues related to unemployment and which can possibly lead to drug abuse amongst the youths, as a way of escaping the depressing reality. This can eventually lead to the misuse of psychoactive drugs.

The writer also employed the use of case studies as well as questionnaires to look into the different effects and factors that different communities relate to substance abuse. In his research, he found out cultural background, family issues, economic problems and peer pressure as among top factors related to substance abuse (Claude, 2006).

Research on Drug Abuse According to Erich Goode

Erich employs past scholarly studies to explain the underlying causes of substance abuse and their effects. In his inquiries into early sociological research on the negative impact of drug abuse reveals that substance abuse affects the opinion and a person’s attitude in the society.

He additionally attributes psychological and societal factors to the main factors leading to abuse of drugs. He uses sociological theories to offer an explanation on drug abuse. A review of different scholarly works enables him to understand that people can engage in substance use as a result of past exposure to drugs, more specifically if they grew up in a family where one of the two parents’ abuse drugs.

He also links family background as major factor leading to drug abuse (Erich, 2011). The author also employs a very comprehensive approach of past sociological studies to explain negative impact of drug abuses. Results of the study enable him to understand that abuse of drugs can lead to severe health, social and financial effects in the society. He also realizes that those using drugs can easily engage in anti-social activities such as prostitution and armed robbery which can adversely affect general members of the society.

His study also portrays the relevance of different scientific theories including cultural identity and social learning theories in explaining the main cause of substance abuse (Maxham, 2011).

Conflict in the Two Studies

Despite the fact that the two sociological theories offer an explanation of the cause of drug abuse, they can employ distinct data collection approaches relating to the findings of the research. While Claude bases his research to understand the issue of substance abuse amongst the youths, Erich follows a more generalized strategy in investigating the topic because he seeks to understand drug abuse among different groups of individuals in the society.

Claude also uses questionnaires to collect details on issues relating to substance abuse while Erich employs past sociological studies to evaluate different factors that scholars have linked to drug abuse. Claude therefore uses inductive approach by generating possible substance abuse approaches from quantitative research. Erich on the other hand opts for deductive reasoning by generating drug abuse causes from past scholarly work as well as sociological theories.

The two researchers portray societal issues as among top causes of substance abuse. They both view the issues including cultural background, peer pressure, family conflicts and economic problems as the major factors leading to drug abuse. They both establish the findings that portray adverse societal effects related to substance abuse. The two studies also indicate that the impact of drug abuse doesn’t only affect the person using drugs but also other people in the larger society.

Considered Position

Substance abuse is a significant issue modern day society because it affects the greater society and not only the person directly using the drugs thus, preventing its smooth running. It is a growing sociological issue because it affects relationships amongst members of the greater community. It mainly influences the behaviors of people and in the end, shapes the manner in which they relate to other people in the society.

It additionally shapes the views and perceptions of other members of the society which, may in the end influence their way of life thus, violating moral values compliance that define the peaceful co-existence in the society. The concept is known as social issue since it can easily lead to adverse social, health and economic effects to drug users thus preventing them from contributing to economic growth in the society (Alemagno, 2009).

The issue not only affects those abusing drugs but equally, the people in the wider community who may be dependent on them. Drug abuse can also lead to other anti-social issues including crime, murder and prostitution further impacting societal relationships. This also affects the lifestyles in the society which can in the end; violate peaceful existence among members of the society.

Data and Methods

Methods of study employed by the two scholars confirm the fact that abuse of drugs is a social problem and not a personal issue as it affects the general public. The use of past studies as well as past sociological research studies reveals that substance abuse is indeed a common social issue, that does not only affect an individual but also the society at large.

Additionally, it affects activities in the society based on the fact that it calls for interventions from larger societal institutions including health and legal institutions. The use of questionnaires and case studies by Claude to investigate the issue reveals that substance abuse is the main factor that prevents positive relationships in the society. Employment of sociological theories by Erich to inquire into the issue also portrays substance abuse as a sociological issue affecting social life thus, explaining why the concept is a major societal issue in modern day.

Sociological Theories

The functionalist theory is the most relevant theory sociologically that can explain the issue of drug abuse best. This issue considers the society as a diverse concept consisting of different interconnected institutions. While the functionalists mainly believe in the significant role that stability in each institution can lead to general stability in the society at large, they also argue that institutions in the society can lead to irregular and deviant behavioral patterns in the society including substance abuse that can prevent peaceful co-existence in the society.

From this point of view, drug abuse prevents cultural norms compliance to ensure stability in the community and it eventually affects positive relationships that can lead to success in the society (Maxham, 2011).

The perspective of functionalists is significant in explaining the adverse effects of drug abuse that can affect the youths who make up a greater population in the society (Adams, 2004). Social conflict theory does not apply in this social issue because it explains the disparity in social class (Erich, 2011). This theory further explains that the society today is in a constant conflict state between persons with the power to control limited resources with those that do not have anything, thus, culminating to disparity in the society.

Substance abuse does not necessarily consider social classes because it affects almost every member of the society. this theory in specific explains that members of the society may engage in steady conflict to achieve control over limited available resources. However, this does not explain why people engage in substance abuse because they may not be necessarily looking for self-control over any kind of resources. On the contrary, substance abuse can be largely as a result of cultural background, family conflicts and peer pressure which does not involve conflict to control resources.

The figurative interactionism perspective is additionally insufficient in offering an explanation into the issue of drug abuse as a social issue. Even though drug abuse can be as a result of different societal, personal and cultural issues existing in any aspect of life, figurative interactionism explains that social interaction can only be comprehended via figurative meanings that individuals attach to different aspects of life (Adams, 2004).

Different social interactions according to this theory can only be understood through various symbolic meanings that people attach to different aspects of life. It is however clear that substance abuse cannot be explained through symbols and as a result, figurative interactionism cannot offer an explanation as to why people abuse drugs.

The theory also explains that behaviors of different individuals are shaped by subjective meaning attached to some events, attitudes and objects as opposed to objective meaning that other people may have in regards to events, things and behaviors. This research indicates that figurative symbolic interactionism can only explain substance abuse as personal as opposed to a societal issue and as a result, it cannot help in understanding its general impact to social life (Alemagno, 2009).


Drug abuse is a significant sociological issue as it affects different social life affects by affecting relationships among members of the society at large. Scholars have ranked t as one of the main social forces that affect social behaviors thus, qualifying the issue as societal as opposed to being a personal issue.

The issue has gained a lot of attention based on the fact that affects the general public and not just the people using the drugs, thus affecting normal functioning of the larger community. Different scholars have carried out comprehensive studies into the issue because it affects the cultural, economic and social wellbeing of the society. The different study approaches employed by Erich and Claude that substance abuse is one of the leading causes and it affects positive co-existence in the society. Evaluating the case as well as sociological study further explains the importance of this issue as it has been established in the past based on its effect on the society.

The relevance of the issue as a social problem is further depicted in different sociological theories that can help in understanding how the factor affects societal interactions. The functionalist theory has also been proven as the most ideal theory in explaining substance abuse as a social issue because it helps in understanding how relationships between different institutions in the society can lead to deviant behaviors such drug abuse and in the end, affecting stability of the society.


Adams, J. (2004). The Imagination and Social Life, Qualitative Sociology, 27(3), 277-297

Alemagno, S. A. (2009). Drug Abuse Research: a Shifting Paradigm, Journal of Drug Issues,        39(1), 223-226

Claude, D. (2006). A Sociological Analysis of Alcohol and Marijuana Use and Abuse among       Young People in Grenada, Drug Demand Reduction Project 2006, Pp.1-55

Erich, G. (2011). The Sociology of Drug Use, New York: Sage Publishers.

Maxham, M. (2011). Shattering a looking glasses self: Building an applied sociological      imagination. Journal of Human Architecture, 9(2):77-85