Introduction circumstances into which people are born and

Introduction

“My aim is not to provide excuses for
black behavior or to absolve blacks of personal responsibility. But when the
new black conservatives accent black behavior and responsibility in such a way
that the cultural realities of black people are ignored, they are playing a
deceptive and dangerous intellectual game with the lives and fortunes of
disadvantaged people. We indeed must criticize and condemn immoral acts of
black people, but we must do so cognizant of the circumstances into which
people are born and under which they live. By overlooking these circumstances,
the new black conservatives fall into the trap of blaming black poor people for
their predicament. It is imperative to steer a course between the Scylla of
environmental determinism and the Charybdis of a blaming-the-victim’s
perspective (West, Cornel, 1989).” Now, Dr. West’s statement
is important because we as humans should be held responsible for what
individual actions we part take in, as well as take into consideration the
relevant conditions that attribute to drug abuse within communities that are
typically subjugated. For the purpose of this paper, it will explain how
substance abuse leads to drug addiction within African-American communities as
it relates to influencing factors like the crack epidemic in the 1980’s, the
environment of the ghetto’s in the inner cities, the prison industrial complex,
and African-American culture.  This paper
will also include why African-American males are more at risk to suffer from
drug addiction in their adolescence of around twelve years of age throughout
their late adult lives. It will include how and why these black males are more
likely to pick up drug addicting traits based off their socioeconomic status
and the ethnicity of whom they identify as. Eventually leading into the risk
factors and long-term effects that drug abuse impacts onto African American
people in the inner cities. While also highlighting what we as a society can do
as a community to help prevent and come up with a treatment for those in need, while
making sure it is a more social and holistic approach rather than a biomedical
alternative.

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Overview of Disease

Drug
addiction is stated as a dangerous use of psychoactive substances, such as
alcohol and illegal drugs which create a dependence syndrome. This dependence
is a cluster of cognitive, behavioral and physiological phenomena that develops
after repeating substance abuse, which include a strong desire to take the drug
or substance (Friedman, Alfred et. Al 1995). The
difficulties that drug abusers encounter range from controlling the drug usage
and persistence in its use, despite the harmful consequences. Which then makes
the drug user have a higher priority to drug use rather than to other activities
and obligations. Eventually leading to an increased tolerance of the substance
or sometimes a physical withdrawal state making drug abuse a chronic, relapsing
brain disease (O’ Hear, Michael. 2009).

When
crack cocaine was introduced in the late 1980’s it perpetuated a wave of
distress, violence, and destruction specifically in the black communities.
Perception of neighborhood social environment can influence an individual’s susceptibility
to drug use and dependency (Herd, Denise. 1990). Meaning if your living in the
inner-city ghetto that is filled with high crime rates, high unemployment and
having your life in danger on a daily basis due to gang violence, drugs is a
form of coping and dealing with their problems. According to the statistics
from the 2012 US Census Bureau, the poverty rate for blacks was 28.1 % and as
of 2014 the underemployment rate for African-American males is 20.5 %, compared
with 18.4% for Hispanics and 11.8% for whites (Kennedy,
Joseph E. 2013). The
overrepresentation of underprivileged African-American children in grade
retention, out of school suspensions and special education have interacted with
low teacher expectations to contribute to these children’s discouragement and
low self-esteem and disengagement from school. Poor black children experience
too few black teachers in the classroom and need to have more teachers of color
and culture (Meares, Tracey L. 1998).
There is an easy availability of alcohol in black communities when there is a
liquor store on almost every block. The short-term relief one achieves from the
use of alcohol and other drugs seduces many blacks who are looking for a way
out of the stress, frustration, pain, pressure, and sense of hopelessness
associated with continued oppression and the absence of opportunity, which has
resulted in a culture wide condition known as PTSS (Post Traumatic slavery
syndrome) (Friedman, Alfred et. Al 1995). Contrary to popular belief, data on
drug and alcohol use contradict stereotypical images. Whites suffer from
excessive drinking and use illegal drugs at rates higher than that of blacks, but
however there are disproportionate consequences among African Americans.

Then
we have the prison industrial complex which is one of the fastest growing
industries in the United States. Which black prisoners by offense are at the
highest with 21.1% and which are drug related charges (Kennedy, Joseph E. 2013).
Multiple corporations have learned that prison labor power can be just as
profitable as third world labor power. Federal law stipulates five years
imprisonment without the possibility of parole for possession of 5 grams of
crack or 3.5 ounces of heroin, and 10 years for possession of less than 2
ounces of rock-cocaine or crack (Coker,
Donna 2003). The United States is the world’s leader in
incarceration with nearly 2.5 million as of 2013. Taking that number into
account, the American prison system is seemingly defined by an entrenched
racial disparity in the population of incarcerated people (Kennedy, Joseph E. 2013).
Much of the available research concerning minorities in prisons focuses chiefly
on the African-American and Hispanic populations. Comprehensively documented
statistics show that the number of African American constitutes 900,000 of the
total incarcerated population (Kennedy, Joseph E. 2013). Statistically, 32% of
African American males will serve time in prison at some point in their lives
as nearly as 12% between the ages of 25 and 29 are currently locked up. While
imprisonment for black women is significantly lower than that of males, they
are still more likely to be incarcerated than white women. In all, blacks are
six times more likely to be incarcerated than whites (Kennedy, Joseph E. 2013).

Now
at the forefront of the music industry, rap has accumulated worldwide
recognition and has influenced American pop culture by the masses. Regardless
of its popularity, the debatable issue on whether hip hop music perpetuates illegal
drug use and violence among African American adolescents still remains a trend
among black scholars, educators, and political figures (Herd, Denise. 1990).
Either way we theorize it, a lot of the main-stream rap today lionizes
substance abuse while many black youths attempt to epitomize the lyrics heard
in such music (Coker, Donna 2003) . For example, in songs such as “whippin the
yam, whippin a fifth of the yam/ turn the whole brick to a lam / been rockin
the dope, soon as it get off the boat/ keepin it soft like a mink” – Future ft.
Casino, Pharrell Williams, and “got your girl on molly and we smoking loud and
drinkin / got my top back so you can see what I be thinkin” – Nicki Manaj ft. 2
Chainz, and lastly “something about Mary, she gone off that molly/ now the
whole party is melted like dali” – Kanye West. These lyrics from popular
African-American culture are all perfect examples of how African-American males
idolizes their American dream, making it easier for them to turn to drug use
and violence.

Overview
of Risk Factors

The top three risk factors for African American males
suffering from drug abuse were: A)
Peers or the people you interact with; For example, when African American’s are
raised with having a watchful eye on each other as a group they tend to accept
and idolize each other’s behavior. Like when young black youths idolize drug
dealers or rappers because of the money and street respect they earn. B) The
location of where you are living, for example when African-Americans are living
in the ghetto around foreclosed homes and having liquor stores on every block.
Which in most black communities won’t necessarily help with drug addiction. Now
lastly, C) racism and inequality, being a black man in America with the daily
oppression and being treated as unprivileged takes a toll and eventually drugs
will claim another life to depression and the feeling of hopelessness.

Long-Term
Health Consequences

Taking drugs fry’s your brain, as well as destroys
your relationships with family and your friends. The brain normally compensates
for drugs “high” with its own period of “low”, which can be manifested in a number
of psychological effects (Kennedy, Joseph E. 2013). The main three long term
health consequences are: A) Depression, when a prolonged substance abuse occurs
it physically alters the users brain so it begins to expect a steady presence
of drugs. Once the drugs are removed, the brain stops producing dopamine,
triggering a feeling of profound depression. B) Paranoia, addicts that are
addicted to stimulants like cocaine, often report feeling spied on or conspired
against. Users tend to become more and more paranoid over time. C) Anxiety,
while many addicts report feeling consistently anxious and struggle to stay
focused or sit for a long period of time. This behavior often interferes with
work performance, relationships and many other aspects of daily life (Herd,
Denise. 1990).

 Prevention and
Treatments

Research indicates that negative experiences with
society at large have made African American’s resistant to the idea of
treatment (Herd, Denise. 1990).  Blacks
are also less likely to complete substance abuse treatment, and are less likely
to obtain recovery than other populations (Herd, Denise. 1990). Because
diversity is concerned, it’s important for counselors to recognize the unique historical
experiences of the black community. Therefore, a culturally competent therapist
will acknowledge the role of extended families, black spirituality, and the
impact of racism which influences access to treatment, capacity to complete
treatment, and the expected benefits from treatment (Meares, Tracey L. 1998).
Researchers should also develop culturally sensitive instruments like
reflecting customs and traditions to measure drug abuse patterns in future African
American’s. Now the main three treatments or coping tools are: A)
organized church events, where they will have meetings to help educate drug
abusers on the dangers and long-term effects of the drugs they are using. B) Building
a strong support system, where African American males looking to break their
drug dependence can build an encouraging group that share common ground with one
another which will help them stay focused with the goal as a group rather than
dealing with the drug abuse alone. And finally, C)

 

Conclusion

To
conclude this topic, African-Americans will continue to suffer from drug
addiction if we as a country don’t take a stand against drugs. Yet, best way to
deal with this problem is too clean up the ghettos and to help are fellow
humans who are less fortunate. However now African Americans who are suffering
from drug abuse now can be aware of the major risk that are involved as well as
different methods of treatment to help cope with their addiction.