Theories of Drug Abuse
Tammy M. Miller-Castillo
August 12, 2012
There are many different theories and perspectives on why people do things like abuse drugs. In order to understand the theories of deviance, and apply them to drug use in our society one must first understand what deviance is. Alex Thio defines deviance as a violation of an informal norm that is derived from a popular belief. “Among the sociological factors, some exert their inﬂuence from the higher societal or cultural level, while others more directly affect individuals in their immediate milieu consisting of family, friends, schoolmates, neighbors, coworkers, and others they meet often” (Thio, 2010). The social factors that may lead individuals toward drug use can be taken from various deviance theories, such as, strain and anomie theory, conflict theory, learning theory, and control theory.
The anomie-strain theory states, “the breakdown of social norms that results from society’s urging people to be ambitious but failing to provide them with the opportunities to succeed” (Thio, 2010). The strain theory suggest that the experience of socially induced strain in one way or another forces people to engage in deviant activities. The anomie theory, focuses on how value conflicts exist between culturally prescribed goals and socially approved ways of achieving them. In the anomie theory, “Merton further explained that there are five modes of individual adaptation to the contradiction between promised goals and available means: (1) conformity, (2) ritualism, (3) rebellion, (4) retreatism, and (5) innovation” (Lyman). Conformity, in which the person accepts both goals and means and rebellion, in which the person withdraws his or her allegiance to a society and seeks to bring in a new social structure, according to Michael Lyman may offer the most intelligible explanation of society’s involvement in drug use. However,...