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Drug Topics For School Projects And Academic Research

drug topics

Research papers and essays on drug topics address sociology, pharmacology, medicine, psychology, statistics, history, and criminology issues. Drug abuse is a serious problem in modern society. It’s a serious issue that different countries are trying to combat. As such, educators ask learners to write academic papers and essays on drug abuse topics to understand this subject better.

Many countries have spent billions of dollars fighting addiction and treating drug addicts. Countless lives have been lost to drug addiction. The increasing crime rates in many countries have also been attributed to drug abuse and addiction. What’s more, people in different social groups gave initiated campaigns against drug use and trade. It’s, therefore, reasonable for educators to ask learners to write about drug and alcohol topics.

Choosing Drug Research Topics

  • Interesting Drug Topics for Papers and Essays
  • Effects of Drug Addiction Topics

Argumentative Research Topics about Drug Use

Drug and alcohol group topics, drug legislation research essay topics.

As students write academic papers on drug related research topics, they engage in research that helps them come to terms with the extent of this problem. They also learn how illicit drug use affects human life. War on drugs research topics helps learners to know the number of resources their governments are spending trying to deal with this problem. Such knowledge can help learners avoid addictive drugs.

But, choosing the drug research topics to write about is not easy. That’s because learners should choose interesting topics for which they can find adequate information to write about. If struggling to pick topics on drug abuse for your academic papers and essays, here are 100 great ideas from our assignment service .

Interesting Drug Topics for Papers and Essays

  • The government should legalize marijuana use
  • Drug users should go to rehabs, not jail
  • The government should eliminate cash bail and legalize marijuana
  • How illicit drugs benefit society
  • Interesting medical uses of cannabis
  • Effects of illicit drugs on society
  • Why teens abuse drugs
  • Possible solutions to the drug abuse problem among teenagers
  • What are the effects of early drug abuse?
  • Health benefits of marijuana
  • Why athletes need marijuana
  • Discuss the long-term effects of illicit drug use
  • History of drug abuse
  • What prompts a person to abuse drugs?
  • Is the war against drug abuse necessary?
  • Can the government win the war against illicit drugs?
  • Can technology be used to fight drug abuse and addiction?
  • How do movies promote drug abuse?
  • Are modern celebrities promoting drug abuse?
  • How can the government deal with prescription drug abuse?

These are interesting ideas for research papers and essays, especially for learners that want to write about controversial drug topics. Nevertheless, be ready to invest time and effort in research, analysis, and writing if you pick any of these research paper topics on drug abuse.

Effects of Drug Addiction Topics

Some people want to know how drug addiction affects a person’s life. As such, this category comprises some of the most interesting drug related topics for learners. Here are some of the best drug addiction research topics to consider if interested in the consequences of addictive substances.

  • Does the amount of abused drugs affect its impact?
  • Why are some people more addicted to drugs than others?
  • How does drug addiction differ between men and women?
  • Why are there differences in drug addiction levels between men and women?
  • What influences the effects of illicit drugs?
  • Why do different drugs affect humans differently?
  • What are the major signs of alcoholism?
  • What are the effects of abusing marijuana?
  • What are the effects of psychoactive substances on the human brain?
  • Explain the main social issues caused by alcohol abuse
  • How does drug abuse affect the social life of a person?
  • How do addicts try to hide the effects of addictive substances?
  • Can family members help an addict deal with the effects of an illicit drug?
  • Can a person deal with the effects of illicit drug abuse alone?
  • Why is rehab necessary when dealing with the effects of illicit drugs?
  • Is withdrawal syndrome an effect of illicit drug addiction
  • Can abusing alcohol affect the judgment of a person?
  • Why is it not advisable to drink alcohol and operate machinery or drive?
  • Common myths about the effects of alcohol
  • Common myths about the effects of marijuana

Choose any of these drug research paper topics if interested in learning how illicit substances affect the users. Nevertheless, be prepared to research extensively to come up with a solid paper about any of these essay topics on drug addiction.

Maybe you hold a certain perspective about drug use. Some people may not agree with you but you would like to persuade them. In that case, you might consider argumentative essay topics drug addiction ideas. That way, you can express your views on the topic professionally. Here are some of the best persuasive essay topics about drugs to consider.

  • Addiction is a disease
  • The genetic makeup of a person can prompt them to abuse drugs
  • The environment of a person can influence them to abuse drugs
  • Social and cultural factors play a role in drug addiction
  • Drug abuse does not always lead to bad behaviors
  • Mass media can encourage drug abuse and addiction
  • Celebrities can influence drug abuse among teenagers
  • Drug addiction treatments should focus on inner motivations
  • Imprisonment does not help a drug addict
  • Interactions with drug addicts can have a negative influence on kids
  • The environment is not to blame for drug addiction
  • Schools can help prevent drug abuse among the teens
  • The perceived correlation between delinquency and drug abuse is wrong
  • The effect of drugs on a person’s perception is not always negative
  • Parents are partly to blame for drug abuse by teens
  • A person who has never had an addiction can’t understand how it feels to battle drug addiction
  • Drug addiction takes control over a person
  • Behavioral and cognitive problems can also affect the academic performance of students that abuse drugs and alcohol
  • Isolating drug addicts will only escalate their addiction
  • Family members should play a role in the treatment of drug addicts

Pick a topic on drug addiction from this category if ready to research extensively and come up with strong points to support your argument. That’s because you must convince readers to support your position in your argument.

Perhaps, you’re looking for drug project ideas that touch on group mentality or perception. In that case, this category has some of the best academic papers and essay topics for drug abuse that you should consider.

  • What are the major social aspects of drug addiction?
  • Which are the most vulnerable social groups when it comes to drug addiction?
  • Is drug abuse part of sacred rituals in some religions?
  • Minors and drug abuse
  • Irreversible effects of drug abuse among teens
  • What is the psychological defense of drug abuse by human trafficking victims
  • Cultural and ethnic traditions that compel some social groups to abuse drugs
  • Can legalizing marijuana make some social groups abuse it more?
  • Why do most women abuse painkiller drugs?
  • How does the “club culture” enhance drug abuse?
  • Who can benefit from the mandatory examination for drug abuse?
  • How drug abuse affects social relations
  • Can a family be affected negatively by substance abuse by one of its members?
  • Drug abuse among the LGBTQ
  • Why drug abuse is considered cool among teenagers
  • How college culture enhances drug abuse
  • How does attitude towards drugs differ among social groups?
  • How does the legal drinking age differ based on cultural diversity?
  • Should countries have similar laws on drug abuse?
  • What are the main causes of drug abuse in various social groups?

These are also great drug debate topics for students in different study levels. However, they also require extensive research to come up with good papers and essays.

If you decide to write about topics for a paper on drug war, you may want to talk about policies, laws, and regulations that touch on different illicit substances. This category has research paper topics drugs ideas that may also focus on legislation.

  • Common substance abuse laws in most countries
  • Effects of drug abuse policies
  • How some legislations compel people to abuse drugs
  • How substance abuse laws can help in the war against the drug trade
  • Top drug laws in the U.S
  • Explain the confidentiality of drug and alcohol abuse patients’ records
  • Explain the disparity in drug law among people of different races
  • How governments can use legislation to fight drug abuse
  • Should the government legalize marijuana?
  • Scaling up the war against drug abuse through legislation
  • Important legislations for enhancing the war against drugs
  • Legislations for preventing underage alcohol consumption
  • How can the government use legislation to fight drug abuse without infringing on human rights?
  • Legislation to channel more resources to the war on drug abuse
  • Causes of illegal drug use among women
  • Vaping legislation to prevent drug abuse
  • Important legislation to prevent prescription drug abuse
  • Legislations to curb military populations’ drug abuse
  • Enforcing law to curb college drug abuse
  • Addressing the increasing cases of people drinking under the influence of alcohol

Drug abuse is a broad subject. Pick some of these drugs essay topics and then research them extensively to come up with papers that will earn you the top scores. Also, you can take a look at these health topics .

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206 Substance Abuse Essay Topics + Examples

Writing a paper about addiction to drugs and alcohol is your chance to explore the substance abuse risk factors, experiences, treatment options, and prevention. Need catchy substance abuse research topics? You’re at the right place! StudyCorgi has plenty of essay and research topics on drug abuse, alcohol, and other psychoactive substances.

💊 7 Substance Abuse Essay Topics

🏆 best research topics on substance abuse, ❓ research questions on substance abuse, 👍 good substance abuse research topics & essay examples, 🔎 research questions on drug abuse among students, 🌶️ hot drug addiction research topics, 🎓 most interesting research topics on drug abuse, 💡 simple substance abuse essay ideas, 📝 more substance abuse research questions.

  • Drug Abuse among Teenagers Causes and Effects
  • Drug and Alcohol Abuse among Young People
  • Prevention of Substance Abuse
  • Substance Abuse Literature Review
  • Drug Abuse and Theories Explaining It
  • Substance Abuse Prevention in Adolescence
  • Substance Abuse and Addiction Treatment: The Humanistic Theory
  • Drug and Substance Abuse: Sociological Causes and Explanations It is normal to think that drug and substance abuse affects only consumers. However, it also affects various aspects of society.
  • Alcohol and Drug Abuse in the Workplace Alcohol and drug abuse is one of the major causes of accidents in the workplace. Random alcohol and drug tests would discourage employees of organization from abusing alcohol or drugs.
  • Victimless Crimes: Drug Abuse and Sex Work This work’s primary objective is to research and analyze victimless crimes, namely drug abuse and sex work, from the viewpoint of criminology.
  • Substance Abuse: The Cause of Social Problems Substance abuse is a contributing factor to social problems but cannot be said to be the one that is most responsible.
  • Drug Abuse in Homeless Community The number of homeless people is continuously increasing, creating a severe threat to a country’s general well-being.
  • Drug Abuse and Its Effects on Families Because of the lack of control that a substance abuse patient has over their actions, families of the people that develop chemical dependency are under constant threat.
  • The Link Between Drug Abuse and Corruption This paper discusses that drug abuse and corruption deserve attention. It introduces causes and reasons for drug abuse and corruption.
  • Substance Abuse Counselling: Current Trends substance abuse is one of the major problems which have seized most individuals in the United States. It is a problem for all sets of the population.
  • Drugs and Substance Abuse in College: Effects and Treatments The paper will give a review of a treatment approach to drug abuse and describe the effects of substance abuse on a person who is in college.
  • Juvenile Drug Abuse Problems Analysis This essay describes the problem of juvenile drug use and applies the relevant delinquency theory. Additionally, the interventions or programs to fix the issue will be highlighted.
  • The Theme of Drug Abuse in Egan’s Book In her novel “A Visit from the Goon Squad”, Jennifer Egan discusses a number of problems of modern society. Among them is the problem of drug abuse.
  • Substance Abuse and Impact on the Family This report will investigate the background, impact on personal lives, and cultural perspectives of the critically dangerous opioid epidemic in the United States due to substance abuse of legal medications.
  • Genetic and Environmental Factors Causing Alcoholism and Effects of Alcohol Abuse The term alcoholism may be used to refer to a wide range of issues associated with alcohol. Simply put, it is a situation whereby an individual cannot stay without alcohol.
  • Adolescent Drug Abuse, Their Awareness and Prevention This essay provides a critique of an article written by Chakravarthy, Shah, and Lotfipour about adolescent drug abuse prevention interventions.
  • Drug Abuse and Alcohol-Related Crimes in Adolescents The current paper focuses on the topic of drug abuse and alcohol-related crimes among teenagers, showing that substances remain the most notable factor in juvenile crime.
  • Assessment of Clients with Substance Abuse Up-to-date medicine struggles with treating humans’ bodies and spirit as sometimes spending more attention to the first aspect lead to an increase in human addictions.
  • Substance Abuse Disorder in “The Breaking Bad” Film The series that is built on substance abuse disorders is Breaking Bad, directed by Vince Gilligan. Walter White turns to producing and selling methamphetamine.
  • Drug Abuse Relation to the Violent Behavior Various groups of drugs greatly vary and relate to violence in different ways. Any person with heavy drug habits may act negatively and involve in violent acts punishable by law.
  • Social Factors of Substance Drug Abuse Substance abuse refers to the pattern of continued use, despite adverse consequences. Socio determinants of substance abuse imply social factors that affect the outcome of drugs.
  • The Problems of Substance Abuse in Homeless Veterans The problem of homelessness often affects the most vulnerable segments of society, among them veterans. This group also experiences excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Drug Misuse, Abuse, and Their Factors Addiction is a recurrent, chronic disorder characterized by compulsive substance seeking and use despite harmful consequences.
  • Personality and Substance Abuse This article looks at personalities of frequent substance users, experimenters, and non-users from the point of view of social psychology.
  • Parental Substance Abuse: Negative Impact on Child Development The researchers focus on the negative impact of parental substance abuse on child development, leading to addiction problems when these children become teenagers or young adults.
  • Substance Abuse Issues in Modern Society Substance abuse entails using illicit drugs, prescription or over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, or alcohol for reasons besides those medically intended or at excessive levels.
  • National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors This paper will consider the fourth principle of the organization’s ethical code, which reads: “Working in a culturally diverse world.”
  • Developments in Global Tobacco and Alcohol Policy WHO reports that about 8 million people die from smoking every year. Tobacco is a major cause of the emergence and development of multiple complications such as cancer, heart disease.
  • Substance Abuse Relapse among Women For substance abuse relapse among women, it is the issue of resumption of females to substance abuse after they have recovered from using such drugs.
  • Psychotherapy and Counseling for Drug Abuse Treatment Drugs are the biggest vice of humanity, along with the mental and moral deviations, horrible diseases of modern times, social neglect and abuse it causes and goes along with.
  • How Does Substance Abuse in Utero Affect a Child?
  • Does Substance Abuse Cause Mental Disorders?
  • How Do Nature and Nurture Influence Substance Abuse?
  • Does Substance Abuse Treatment Make a Difference for Child Welfare Case Outcomes?
  • How Does Parenting Affect Teen Substance Abuse?
  • What Is the Effect of Substance Abuse on an Individual and Society?
  • How Does Substance Abuse Affect the Community?
  • What Are the Causes and Effects of Substance Abuse?
  • How Do Psychologists Define and Explain Substance Abuse?
  • What Are the Social Problems That Are Caused by Substance Abuse?
  • How Can Substance Abuse Addicts Benefit From Art Therapy and Spiritual Nourishment?
  • What Are the Main Environmental Factors That Influence Substance Use and Abuse?
  • How Does Substance Abuse Influence Youngsters?
  • Does Substance Abuse Impact Conception?
  • How Does Substance Abuse Affect the Family Unit?
  • What Birth Defects Are Caused by Substance Abuse?
  • How Has Substance Abuse Become a Worldwide Public Health Problem?
  • Does Substance Abuse Affect Academic Performance?
  • How Does Poverty Lead to Substance Abuse?
  • What Are the Causes of Substance Abuse During Adolescence?
  • How Does Substance Abuse Affect an Individual’s Social Life?
  • Are There Strategies for the Prevention and Control of Substance Use and Abuse?
  • How Can We Prevent Substance Abuse Among Youth?
  • Why Is It Important to Talk About Substance Abuse?
  • How Can Substance Abuse Be Addressed and Reduced?
  • Drug Abuse Case: Jenny G This paper present the case of drug abuse. Jenny G., a 48-year-old recovering IV drug abuser, presents with general malaise, anorexia, abdominal pain, and slight jaundice.
  • Fear Appeal in Anti-Drug Abuse Public Campaign The problem of prescription drug abuse has become a crucial concern for Florida residents. The public campaign proposes raising awareness about the dangers of prescription drugs.
  • Personal Relationship With Alcohol Abuse Given that alcohol abuse affects myriad families, ruining people’s health and harming social life, it is still a sensitive and critical issue to consider.
  • Substance Abuse: Environmental Influences and Biology Substance abuse is not a new problem the human society faces. This paper examines different ways biological and environment influences interact and affect drug taking behavior.
  • Crisis of Chemical Dependence: Drug Abuse Drug abuse mainly begins during teenage. The first part of this essay discusses social and cultural determinants of substance abuse. The second part focuses on the dynamics of addiction.
  • Drug Abuse and Its Impact on Creativity The boosting effect of drugs on creativity is a myth because changes in thinking are a brain reaction to a narcotic that is temporary yet severe.
  • Drug Abuse in the United States’ Social Context Drug abuse is one of the problems affecting people in the United States. Society has contributed to the continued misuse of drugs today, through bad parenting or the environment.
  • Impaired Nurses: Substance Abuse Treatment Many organizations are more likely to provide impaired nurses with substance abuse treatment rather than with punishment that is considered to be a less effective approach.
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Social Anxiety and Substance Abuse Mark is a student who suffers from social anxiety and alcohol abuse problems. The assessment regime is needed to identify the cause of Mark’s substance abuse.
  • Interprofessional Health Promotion Resources: Substance Abuse in Adults Available interventions, risks, and factors contributing to substance abuse in adults will be discussed in the present paper.
  • Drug Abuse During Pregnancy: Policy Options Heated discussions on whether or not drug abuse during pregnancy should be illegal due to the potential risks to the developing fetus or child persist.
  • How Does Substance Abuse Affect Mental Health in High School? The paper states that the number of students who begin to try drugs has increased. The reasons may be a banal interest to try something new in their life.
  • Substance Abuse Among Adolescents Substance abuse and addiction are rampant within the adolescent age. Children abuse substances due to peer pressure, poor parenting, and lack of sufficient sensitization.
  • Leadership in Drug Abuse Program Development Within the context of a potential intervention for drug abuse, the roles and competencies of leaders are the primary emphasis of this paper.
  • The CAGE Substance Abuse Screening Tool Issues The paper states that the CAGE Assessment has a high rate of false positives, which can lead to individuals being wrongly accused of drug abuse.
  • The Experience of Substance Abuse in Homeless Veterans The problem of homelessness often affects the most vulnerable segments of society, one of them being veterans. This particular group also experiences significant issues.
  • Aspects of Substance Abuse Group Counselling The paper discusses the substance abuse counseling group. It is based on minimizing the substance abuse cases that are among the youth.
  • Substance Abuse in Population and How to Address It Substance abuse is one of the issues in the population that affect not only the people who conduct the abuse but those around them as well.
  • Parental Alcohol Abuse as a Family Issue Parental alcohol abuse is a serious problem in the community that impacts not only one individual but spreads to different social units.
  • Substance Abuse and Its Financial Dimension The purpose of this paper is to explore substance use as a healthcare finance issue and review its significance with regard to healthcare policy.
  • The Drug Abuse Problem in Indiana Drug usage is one of Indiana’s most serious societal problems, affecting the state’s health, economy, behavioral, and criminal elements.
  • Substance Abuse in Media: Godfather of Harlem In the Godfather of Harlem film directed by Chris Brancato and Paul Eckstein, the character meets two criteria of the DSM-5 qualifying signs and symptoms.
  • Overcoming the Drug Abuse Addiction The use of narcotic drugs brings irreparable harm to health and diminishes the quality of life. Opioid abuse is a predominant problem that continues to be a concern.
  • The Problems of Drug Misuse and Abuse and Their Management This research aims to determine the best ways to prescript drugs, the importance of drug interactions, and the potential dangers of drug abuse.
  • Drug Prescription Issues and Abuse This paper aims to determine the best ways to prescript drugs, the importance of drug interactions, and the potential dangers of drug abuse.
  • Drug Abuse Demographics in Prisons Drug abuse, including alcohol, is a big problem for the people contained in prisons, both in the United States and worldwide.
  • Elderly Health and Substance Abuse Relationship The topics chosen for this scientific paper are elderly health and social care and alcohol and substance abuse.
  • Pandemic’s Impact on Mental Health & Substance and Alcohol Abuse While substance use disorder can impose mental health challenges on those who consume drugs, COVID-19 affects the psychology of all humankind.
  • Challenges of Treating Substance Abuse in Homeless Population Substance abuse remains among the major problems the health care industry is facing, also in developed countries.
  • Drug Abuse at the Workplace and a Policy to Address It In this proposal, a policy to address worker substance abuse and addiction, will be discussed, with both its major goals and potential benefits being outlines.
  • Alcohol Abuse and Self-Management Program The main self-management program for a high school student with alcohol addiction is to set long-term and intermediate goals, and the development of a reward system.
  • Substance Abuse Counseling Practices The main statistic of the research is that trauma in childhood is an indispensable part of the substance abuse experience.
  • Alcohol Abuse: Causes and Solutions Alcohol abuse remains one of the key healthcare concerns around the globe, not least because addicts do not purely injure their own health.
  • Substance Abuse Experience and Treatment Substance abuse is a major issue that can affect an addicted person’s life profoundly. Furthermore, it has a strong impact on those around this individual.
  • Personalized Substances Abuse Assessment The paper discusses the fact that the client was addicted to marijuana and methamphetamine, and she realized that this addiction changed her life for the worse.
  • What are the commonly abused drugs among students?
  • How does peer pressure affect students’ drug abuse?
  • What are the gender and socioeconomic differences in students’ substance abuse?
  • How does drug abuse influence the overall campus environment?
  • What are the psychological and behavioral effects of drug abuse on students?
  • What is the link between the accessibility of drugs on campus and student drug abuse?
  • How does stress affect the development of student substance abuse?
  • How does social support impact students’ susceptibility to drug abuse?
  • Does the use of random drug testing reduce student substance abuse rates?
  • What are the long-term consequences of student drug abuse?
  • Substance Abuse Treatment in Pembroke Pines City Pembroke Pines is a beautiful suburban city close to Miami. Unfortunately, the town is infamous due to the high number of people suffering from substance abuse.
  • Substance Abuse Addiction: Guide for Colleagues in the Workplace If a colleague exhibits an addictive behavior, there is need to handle the situation properly and professionally to ensure better productivity after addressing the issue.
  • Types of Drugs and Types of Domestic Abuse Correlation Understanding that the consumption of particular drugs causes physical changes is essential in ascertaining the probability of a specific type of domestic violence.
  • Prescription Drug Abuse Problem Providing access to prescription drugs is among the key tasks that the modern healthcare system should fulfill to increase recovery rates.
  • Substance Abuse and Its Social Determinants The paper argues that substance abuse is intensely predisposed by relational, domestic, and communal changing aspects.
  • Substance Abuse: Determinants, Widespread Use, Financial Costs, Defense Mechanism Substance abuse is also referred to as drug abuse. Substance abuse has been defined as the harmful use of both prescription and illicit drugs.
  • Substance Abuse and Its Effect on the Community This paper discusses how substance abuse contributes to teen pregnancy, HIV, domestic violence, child abuse, and how the epidemiological problem has affected the entire community.
  • The Availability of Recovery High Schools in Overcoming Substance Abuse The article by Deborah Yaffe, titled “Recovery High Schools Make Dent in Teen Substance Abuse,” was published in District Administration journal in 2019.
  • The Factors Which Determine Substance Abuse Substance addiction is a disease that affects the patient’s behavior and physical well-being. It is associated with mood modification and chemical intoxication.
  • Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986: Crack vs. Cocaine Sentencing Disparity The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 imposes disproportionate sentences for offenders convicted of using or possessing crack and powder cocaine.
  • Researching of Pregnancy and Alcohol Abuse In order to address the issue of alcohol abuse during pregnancy, the interprofessional team should consider the current trends and recommendations on maternal alcohol consumption
  • Accessory Plus Incorporated’s Drug Abuse Case In the case of Accessory Plus Incorporated, the issue of drug abuse has been suspected. However, there is no policy framework for the company to deal with the case.
  • The Link Between Culture and Substance Abuse Drugs and substance abuse have become a very important element of youth culture as time goes by. The abuse of drugs has become a normal trend among the youths.
  • Adolescent Males With Depression: Poly-Substance Abuse Depression is the most crucial aspect that makes young males indulge in poly-substance abuse. There are various ways in which male adolescents express their depression.
  • Prescription Drug Abuse as a Community Health Issue Consumption of prescription drugs in a manner that has not been prescribed by the doctor is an outstanding community health issue. This can be more harmful than people understand.
  • Crime Trends: Drug Abuse in Adults and Juveniles One notes a mixed trend in the different crimes over the years. Drug abuse, for example, increased steadily from the 1970s in both the adult and juvenile populations.
  • Substance Abuse Problem Analysis This essay explores substance abuse and its general impact on society and on individuals. Substance abuse has been a major concern for all governments over the last century.
  • Substance Abuse: Alcohol and Drugs in the Movie “Ray” The movie “Ray” by Taylor Hackford. In “Ray,” the issue of substance abuse helps understand the problems that a person faces when dealing with addiction.
  • Treatment of Substance Abuse Problems among Adolescents The study involves an examination of the effective treatment models utilized in the treatment of substance abuse problems among adolescents.
  • Substance Abuse among Black Women Aged 22-55 in Miami Substance abuse in black women who are aged between 25 and 55 years is rarely considered an issue of major concern and it is often relegated to the background.
  • Substance Abuse Therapy Positive and Negative Outcomes The indispensable role played by substance abuse therapists, in providing rehabilitative measures to curb this drug abuse scourge.
  • Drug Abuse in Correction Facilities The purpose of this article is to consider the problem of drug abuse in correctional facilities, as well as to suggest possible solutions to this problem.
  • Adolescents With a Substance Abuse Issue Treatment The study is a review of the current treatment modalities employed in management of substance abuse among adolescents.
  • Costs and Effects of Substance Abuse There are a number of factors of social, economic, environmental, biological and psychological factors that are recognized as the most common determinants of substance abuse
  • Substance Abuse in the Young People Substance abuse refers to unsafe or hazardous use of substances that are psychoactive. Such substances may include alcohol or illicit drugs.
  • Predatory Crime Causation and Substance Abuse Problems Substance abuse problems, as the causes of deviant behavior, are a subject of study in biosocial criminological theories.
  • Substance Abuse Among African American Women in Miami The purpose of this paper is to discuss substance abuse among African American women aged 25-55 years living in Miami.
  • Impact of Alcohol Abuse on Breast Cancer Risk in Women This paper will examine the effects of alcohol abuse on the development of breast cancer in women to uncover its devastating consequences.
  • Alcohol Abuse: External and Internal Perspectives This paper will examine the social costs of alcohol abuse problems, in particular, the external rise of violence and the private stigma surrounding addiction.
  • The Drug Courts: The Question of Drug Abuse Drug abuse is one of the most prevalent crimes in the world. It is a concern for both local governments and international organizations.
  • Alcohol Abuse as It Pertains to High Risk Families The main objections of the promotion and prevention program are to ensure reduced substance abuse among young people to protect their health.
  • Community Health: Prescription Drug Abuse The rising access to frequently abused prescription drugs via the internet has created public anxieties within the healthcare system in the United States.
  • Family Involvement in Substance Abuse Cases The family systems theory underlies eight interconnected concepts, which purport to highlight the source of different conflicts and other emotional problems within the family.
  • Health Issue Analysis: Prescription Drug Abuse Prescription drug abuse is a rapidly growing epidemic that spreads worldwide. Various national and international health organizations research this field.
  • The Link Between Cultural Family and Substance Abuse The paper identifies the prevalence, correlates, and negative implications of substance abuse among African American women.
  • Substance Abuse and Health Care Cost for Employers: A Review of the Literature Substance abuse is a condition that can be prevented and treated. Substance abuse disorders impose huge financial costs to both the employer and the society at large.
  • Dealing With Alcohol Abuse in Adolescents This research evaluates how the public can be incorporated in developing effective interventions aimed at dealing with alcohol abuse and binge drinking among youth.
  • The Drug Abuse in the U.S. Navy: The Problem Analysis The purpose of this report is to capture drug abuse in the U.S. Navy and to analyze some of the measures that the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) has put in place.
  • OxyContin as a Legitimate Drug and a Drug of Abuse OxyContin is the brand name used to sell the extended-release form of oxycodone, it describes a semi-synthetic prescription opioid used to manage severe pain.
  • Substance Abuse in Low-Income Community Cocaine abusers become heroin-addicted fifteen times more, whereas people with addiction to prescription drugs are forty times more likely to shift to heroin abuse.
  • Hispanic Community: Alcohol & Substance Abuse Among the Female Gender Population This study will focus on alcohol and substance abuse among the female gender population proportion (12-20 years and 25-45 years) in the Hispanic community in California.
  • Adolescence Substance Abuse: Over The Counter Inhalants And Cough Syrup Over-the-counter drugs, commonly known as OTC, refer to the prescription of drugs that are not meant for medical use.
  • Drug Abuse Factors: Substance Use Disorder The various reasons for the abuse of opioids, alcohol, and nicotine account for the challenge in research and treatment.
  • Substance Abuse Problem in the Miami City Community In Miami City, teenagers are at a particularly high risk of developing alcohol use disorder. More efforts should be implemented into screening and surveying this at-risk.
  • White Collar Crime, Corporate Crime and Substance Abuse A single corporate crime can cause harm to many people. The fiscal impact of white-collar crimes significantly surpasses those of blue-collar offenses.
  • Drug Abuse and Addiction: Risk Factors People with drug abuse issues have enhanced motivation to take drugs, increased probability of reacting to stress, emotional dysregulation, and impaired self-control.
  • Linking Obamacare Policy, Substance Abuse, and Mental Health Obamacare, or The Affordable Care Act, is one of the most prominent health care policies in the United States because disputes over its advantages and disadvantages last for years.
  • The Relations Between Drug Abuse and Criminal Justice The purpose of this article is to use conflict theory to analyze how race, class, and gender affect drug abuse and crime in the United States.
  • Drug and Alcohol Abuse in Organizations The purpose of this paper is to analyze the impact of drugs and alcohol on the behavior of the employees and the relationships between business owners and their subordinates.
  • Drug Abuse: Impaired American Society The history of American society as far as drug abuse is concerned has had a dark past where drugs and alcohol were considered a lifestyle.
  • The Issue of Drug Abuse in the Community of Kinsburg This paper aims to research the community of the city of Keansburg, located in the state of New Jersey and its issue of substance abuse.
  • Adolescent Drug Abuse: Diagnosis and Cultural Awareness The paper examines the effect of amphetamine on human and, as a consequence, the development of mental illness, namely, mood disorder.
  • The Problem of Prescription Drug Abuse in the United States Prescription drug abuse is a serious health concern that causes an overdose crisis in the United States. There are determinants such as social, economic, and healthcare-related issues.
  • A Health Issue Analysis: Prescription Drug Abuse Prescription drug abuse is one of the acutest problems of healthcare systems in the USA. In the past decade, the rate of deaths due to prescription drug overdose grew by 142%.
  • Substance Abuse Among Teenagers: Factors and Causes This study seeks to investigate the impact of gender, family structure, parental influence, and peer pressure on teenagers’ alcohol use.
  • Drug Abuse and Drug Addiction and Various Policies Related to Drugs The harm reduction policy is concerned with reducing or minimizing the risks that are accrued to drug abuse in various societies.
  • Drug Abuse and Crime Correlation The correlation between drug use and crimes go, most prisoners said they commit crimes for obtaining money for drugs, so drugs are the motivation.
  • Family Violence and Substance Abuse Substance abuse does not only affect the individuals but its consequences spill over to the society especially the community and also the work places.
  • Drug Addiction: The Problem of Xanax Abuse and Its Consequences Xanax as a drug can be very addictive and difficult to stop and it is very important for anyone using the drug to be cautious and follow the instructions that are provided.
  • Alcohol Abuse Among Students: Reforming College Drinking A large number of works are devoted to the problem of alcohol abuse among students. One of them is Drinking in College: Rethinking a Social Problem by George Dowdall.
  • The Impacts of Substance Abuse on Pregnancy The consequences of substance abuse on pregnancy are very diverse: both physiological and psychological and there are many specific aspects which have not been fully discussed.
  • Personal Issues: Marriage, Obesity, and Alcohol Abuse The actions of every person have a particular impact on society and its development, and this impact is sometimes underestimated.
  • Substance Abuse and Preventive Measures The paper analyzes socio-economic and health issues for families, communities, and nations caused by psychoactive substances abuse.
  • Drug Abuse Among Teenagers Before analyzing the causes of addiction among teenagers, we have to look at this issue from sociological point of view.
  • Substance Abuse, Lack of Treatment, Prejudice and Incarceration – A Community Health Problem Substance abuse and poor mental health form some of the biggest concerns of society. People of all ages especially the young are influenced by substance abuse.
  • Substance Abuse Prevention and Effective Prevention Programs Substance abuse is a maladaptive pattern of drug or alcohol use that leads to clinical impairment or distress. Substance abuse is manifested in failure to fulfill adaptation at work, school, or home.
  • Substance Abuse Effects on Person and Community Substance abuse is a well-documented problem that can lead to numerous complications on a personal, family, community, and national level.
  • Alcohol Abuse: the Economist Approach To an economist, the problem of alcohol abuse is viewed as an externality in both consumption and production. The value to consumers is greater than the value to society.
  • The Alcohol Abuse Treatment Among the Elderly This paper delves into the issue of alcohol abuse among the elderly, its potential implications, the origin of the problem, and methods to resolve the issue.
  • Alcohol Abuse’ Treatment Among the Elderly This research focuses on finding the best treatment for the problem of alcohol abuse among the elderly as it may pose serious health problems.
  • Drug and Alcohol Abuse Treatment Effectiveness The production and consumption of drugs is a core challenge in the modern world. It is the reason why there is an increased need for treatment of people affected by drug addiction.
  • The Treatment of Alcohol Abuse of the Elderly This paper delves into the issue of alcohol abuse among the elderly, its potential implications, and examines what the current methods utilize to resolve the issue.
  • The Treatment of Alcohol Abuse among the Elderly Alcohol abuse among the elderly is an issue that has raised concern among medical practitioners and society in general.
  • Substance Abuse and Frustration Relationships A report released by the Harvard health institute indicated that substance abuse is high among frustrated individuals.
  • Drug Abuse Treatment in Nursing Jenny G., a 48-year-old recovering IV drug abuser, presents with general malaise, anorexia, abdominal pain, and slight jaundice. She is currently staying in a women’s shelter and looking for a job.
  • Substance Abuse and Its Promotion in Advertisement Substance abuse is very common in the world, and lately, the general populace has perceived substance abuse mentally as one of the vital questions facing almost all countries.
  • Substance Abuse Versus Addiction When abuse of psychoactive substances is regularly repeated, dependence syndrome develops a person begins to crave the drug or alcohol more.
  • Caring for Vulnerable Population: Substance Abuse Substance abuse is a rampant problem in the current society despite the availability of information regarding the consequences of drug abuse.
  • Teenage Drug and Substance Abuse It is crucial for governments, not just the U.S., where teenage drug and substance abuse are on the rise, but also other countries, to establish mechanisms that can help to fight the menace.
  • Drug Abuse Among Homeless People in Miami This paper aims to better assess the disaster of drug abuse among homeless people in Miami, and develop ways to counter this issue.
  • Drug Abuse, HIV/AIDS, and Songs on Social Issues Drug abuse and HIV/AIDS are some of the major social issues affecting society today. Songs have been used in raising awareness about social issues that affect the world.
  • Female Drug Abuser’s Recovery Care Plan A woman is an IV drug abuser. The laboratory tests reveal elevated alanine aminotransferase and antibody-positive for Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B.
  • Substance Abuse in Reducing Frustration Frustration usually co-occurs with substance abuse. The research question is whether substance abuse can reduce frustration.
  • Contingency Management for Patients With Substance Abuse Contingency management is a behavioral treatment for patients with substance abuse problems. This work discusses methods of treatment and contingency management.
  • Substance Abuse Disorder Causes, Syptoms, Types Substance abuse – illicit, prescriptive, or licit drugs – has been linked to multiple chronic behavioral and psychotic disorders.
  • Mental Health and Substance Abuse in Obamacare The Affordable Care Act (ACA) offered an opportunity to improve healthcare for people with mental illnesses. The implementation of new regulations required certain payment reform.
  • Substance Abuse Treatment and Domestic Violence The histories of child abuse and neglect form the present behavior of a person a define his administering treatment needs regarding the fact of whether a person was sexually or emotionally abused.
  • Substance Abusers Alcoholics – Psychology Alcoholics suffer from a distinct physical yearning to take alcohol past their capability to manage it, irrespective of every law of common sense.
  • Minimizing Prescription Drug Abuse in Oklahoma Over the past few years, the rates of prescription drug abuse in Oklahoma have grown impressively. The issue must be addressed by raising awareness via modern media.
  • Substance Abuse: How Much Is Enough? Drug and substance abuse is caused by many factors that include environmental, age, race and ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, income level and socioeconomic class
  • Social Cultural Determinants of Substance Abuse This paper presents a discussion on the social cultural determinants of substance abuse. It also addresses the dynamics of addiction and the mechanisms that are cope with challenges that arise.
  • How do genetic factors contribute to one’s susceptibility to substance abuse?
  • What is the impact of substance abuse on brain development in adolescents?
  • How do co-occurring mental health disorders affect substance abuse treatment outcomes?
  • What are the long-term physical health consequences of prolonged substance abuse?
  • How does substance abuse affect family relationships?
  • What are the economic costs of substance abuse?
  • How do healthcare professionals’ attitudes affect substance abuse treatment quality?
  • How does substance abuse affect occupational performance?
  • What are the unique challenges of LGBT people in accessing substance abuse treatment?
  • How do drug laws affect substance abuse rates?

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StudyCorgi. (2022, May 10). 206 Substance Abuse Essay Topics + Examples. https://studycorgi.com/ideas/substance-abuse-essay-topics/

"206 Substance Abuse Essay Topics + Examples." StudyCorgi , 10 May 2022, studycorgi.com/ideas/substance-abuse-essay-topics/.

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1. StudyCorgi . "206 Substance Abuse Essay Topics + Examples." May 10, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/ideas/substance-abuse-essay-topics/.


StudyCorgi . "206 Substance Abuse Essay Topics + Examples." May 10, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/ideas/substance-abuse-essay-topics/.

StudyCorgi . 2022. "206 Substance Abuse Essay Topics + Examples." May 10, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/ideas/substance-abuse-essay-topics/.

These essay examples and topics on Substance Abuse were carefully selected by the StudyCorgi editorial team. They meet our highest standards in terms of grammar, punctuation, style, and fact accuracy. Please ensure you properly reference the materials if you’re using them to write your assignment.

This essay topic collection was updated on January 20, 2024 .


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100 Drug Abuse Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

Inside This Article

Drug abuse is a serious issue that affects individuals, families, and communities all over the world. It has devastating consequences on physical and mental health, relationships, and society as a whole. Writing an essay on drug abuse can help raise awareness about the dangers of substance misuse and addiction. If you are struggling to come up with a topic for your essay, here are 100 drug abuse essay topic ideas and examples to inspire you:

  • The impact of drug abuse on mental health
  • The role of genetics in substance abuse
  • The relationship between poverty and drug addiction
  • The effects of drug abuse on the brain
  • The connection between drug abuse and crime
  • The role of peer pressure in drug abuse
  • The impact of drug abuse on families
  • The prevalence of prescription drug abuse
  • The dangers of synthetic drugs
  • The relationship between drug abuse and homelessness
  • The effects of drug abuse on academic performance
  • The connection between drug abuse and HIV/AIDS
  • The role of social media in promoting drug use
  • The impact of drug abuse on the LGBTQ+ community
  • The dangers of mixing drugs and alcohol
  • The relationship between drug abuse and domestic violence
  • The effects of drug abuse on pregnancy
  • The connection between drug abuse and mental illness
  • The role of trauma in substance abuse
  • The impact of drug abuse on the criminal justice system
  • The prevalence of drug abuse among teenagers
  • The dangers of vaping and e-cigarette use
  • The relationship between drug abuse and overdose deaths
  • The effects of drug abuse on liver health
  • The connection between drug abuse and risky sexual behavior
  • The role of drug abuse in human trafficking
  • The dangers of synthetic marijuana
  • The relationship between drug abuse and eating disorders
  • The effects of drug abuse on the immune system
  • The connection between drug abuse and suicide
  • The role of drug abuse in the opioid epidemic
  • The impact of drug abuse on the elderly population
  • The prevalence of drug abuse in the music industry
  • The dangers of using performance-enhancing drugs
  • The relationship between drug abuse and body image issues
  • The effects of drug abuse on the environment
  • The connection between drug abuse and human trafficking
  • The role of drug abuse in gang violence
  • The impact of drug abuse on first responders
  • The dangers of using prescription drugs recreationally
  • The relationship between drug abuse and PTSD
  • The connection between drug abuse and homelessness
  • The role of drug abuse in the entertainment industry
  • The prevalence of drug abuse in the workplace
  • The dangers of using synthetic drugs
  • The relationship between drug abuse and mental health stigma
  • The effects of drug abuse on brain development in adolescents
  • The connection between drug abuse and child abuse
  • The role of drug abuse in sex trafficking
  • The impact of drug abuse on the foster care system
  • The dangers of using drugs while pregnant
  • The relationship between drug abuse and poverty
  • The effects of drug abuse on the LGBTQ+ community
  • The connection between drug abuse and gun violence
  • The role of drug abuse in the refugee crisis
  • The impact of drug abuse on indigenous communities
  • The prevalence of drug abuse in the military
  • The dangers of using drugs at music festivals
  • The relationship between drug abuse and cyberbullying
  • The effects of drug abuse on creativity
  • The connection between drug abuse and climate change
  • The role of drug abuse in political corruption
  • The impact of drug abuse on the healthcare system
  • The dangers of using drugs at raves
  • The relationship between drug abuse and self-harm
  • The connection between drug abuse and animal cruelty
  • The role of drug abuse in child labor
  • The impact of drug abuse on the arts community
  • The prevalence of drug abuse in the fashion industry
  • The dangers of using drugs in the workplace
  • The relationship between drug abuse and celebrity culture
  • The connection between drug abuse and social media addiction
  • The role of drug abuse in gentrification
  • The impact of drug abuse on the education system
  • The dangers of using drugs at music concerts
  • The relationship between drug abuse and body dysmorphia
  • The connection

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Essays About Drugs: Top 5 Examples and 8 Prompts

Writing essays about drugs can be challenging; read our guide to find out how to tackle your next essay.

A sheriff once asked a teenager caught with drugs in his car to pen an essay about the substances’ effects . Instead of handcuffing the 17-year-old, the sheriff took into account the kid’s future and threw him a lifeline by giving him a second chance. The 500-word essay effectively made the teenager reflect on his wrongdoings. 

There’s still an ongoing debate on the recreational use of drugs. However, their harmful effects outweigh the positive as many fall victim to drug addiction. Drugs risk many lives and relationships, resulting in dangerous living environments, mental health disorders, and other trauma. As of last year, almost 32 million people actively participate in drug use. 

Because writing about drugs includes sensitive subjects, it’s critical to demonstrate your complete understanding of the topic and cite reliable sources. Consider the essay samples below to inspire your piece.


1. Long Essay on Drug Addiction by Veerendra

2. causes of drug use among young people by jill nicholson, 3. the failure of america’s war on drugs by anonymous on gradesfixer.com, 4. drugs and alcohol abuse: reasons, effects and measures by anonymous on edubirdie.com, 5. social media impact on drug abuse by anonymous on ivypanda.com, 1. drug addiction: painkillers, 2. types of drugs, 3. causes and effects of drug abuse, 4. drug use vs. drug abuse, 5. drugs and destruction, 6. drugs as depicted in the movies, 7. depression and drug abuse, 8. a drug abuse journey.

“Drug addiction impacts millions and needs to be treated carefully to prevent further harm to the individual and letting them live a better life.”

Veerendra defines drug addiction as excessive substance intake leading to various behavioral and physical changes. First, he lists drugs that increase dopamine levels, including alcohol, cocaine, nicotine, and painkillers. Then, after adding the early symptoms of drug addiction, he delves into how it impacts a person’s mental cognition, communication skills, and mental health.

When a person stops taking drugs, withdrawal symptoms follow. These signs (nausea, fatigue, and tremors) can lead to the more detrimental phase known as relapse. Ultimately, he believes that drug addiction treatments and the full support of family and friends greatly aid in overcoming addiction. You might also be interested in these articles about driving under the influence .

“Many curious teens have died the first time they tried certain drugs, like ecstasy. Others have found their temporary escape became a permanent addiction.”

Nicholson discusses the three leading causes of drug use: curiosity, escape, and peer pressure. Mainstream media like TV, movies and social networking sites drive curiosity. Family and friends can also precipitate interest by discussing drugs in front of youngsters.

In the next section, Nicholson explains that most young people who have problems and are unhappy with their lives use drugs to escape reality and hide behind the feel-good chemicals. The last reason young people use drugs is to look cool to impress their peers. Nicholson notes that in a circle of friends if one is using drugs, people assume everyone else is doing it. One way to help these young people is by detailing the health risks accompanying these materials, zeroing in on the chains of addiction.

“… the United States has spent a lot of years trying to wage war on drugs. The cost has been violence, crime, corruption, the devastation of social bonds as well as the destruction of inner-city communities and the exponential development of several minorities and women ending up in jail.”

The essay focuses on the fact that despite spending billions of dollars on resources, alternative treatments, and casualties, the illegal drug trade in America continues and grows stronger. Some reason for this failure includes the public’s perception influenced by media campaigns and ill-suited punishments for non-violent and victimless crimes. 

The piece concludes that society will not benefit from anti-drug efforts as long as the government’s solution focuses on criminalization and not treatment.

“… drug abuse means when you use legal or illegal substances in ways you shouldn’t.”

Drug abuse refers to using chemicals to stimulate areas in the brain responsible for immediate gratification. The writer also pins down different drug types and their effects. Further, the essay accounts for users’ reasons for engaging with substance abuse (relationship complications, work pressure, and loneliness.) 

These chemical reactions deteriorate a person mentally and physically, with brain function the most affected. Exercising, consulting a doctor, eating healthy, and venting are the four measures to overcome drug and alcohol abuse.

“…active social media uses, especially adolescents, are more likely to try drugs because of the influence they see on the platforms.”

The essay expounds on how social media contributes to drug abuse by romanticizing their consumption. Unfortunately, these idealized posts are so rampant that drug use is socially acceptable. The steady increase of this content on social media attests to this phenomenon. 

The main encouragers are celebrities and social media influencers who advertise their wild lifestyle without regard for their followers’ ages or naivete.

If you want to learn about more essay topics, check out the best essay topics about social media.

8 Easy Writing Prompts for Essays About Drugs

Opioid addiction stems from the need to relieve pain from injury and other accidents. Unfortunately, up to 19% of these patients abuse prescription painkillers . For this prompt, research the roots of how painkillers begin as a means to heal victims to being the reason individuals suffer. Identify and explain how narcotic ruins the body. Include how people who need to take these medications can avoid getting addicted. 

Essays About Drugs: Types of Drugs

Briefly explain the different drug types to give your readers an overview of how they work. Next, discuss the most commonly abused drugs and how they affect a person. Finally, add research findings, reliable data, and news articles to strengthen your essay and make it credible. 

There are many pieces discussing the causes and effects of drug abuse. To make your essay stand out, compare two families with one parent addicted to illegal substances. The addict in the first family went to rehab and counseling, while the second one didn’t. List down the different futures of these families, such as how the experience resonated with the children. 

A person who takes drugs to treat ailments differs from an individual who uses drugs in search of satisfying an impulse craving. Use this prompt to compare and contrast drug use and abuse and why their similarities and differences matter. 

Improper use of drugs doesn’t only ruin an individual’s psychological and physical health. It also destroys relationships and families. This destruction can be passed from generation to generation, snowballing the problem and making it more challenging to find a solution. Present this issue to discourage your readers from trying drugs.

Leonardo De Caprio’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” is one of the most famous movies showing how people justify taking drugs. First, write a short review of this film or pick other drug-related flicks you want to review in your essay. Next, juxtapose things you notice in movies that also happen in an addict’s real life. Finally, finish your piece by sharing what you learned from the film and its main characters.

Another reason some turn to drugs is to run away from their mental illness, such as depression. Substance Use Disorder explains why an individual can’t control the urge to abuse drugs and alcohol. Delve more into this condition and how it rewires the brain. Include addicts’ grounds for self-medication and other risk factors that can trigger this disorder.

It’s not easy to share drug-related experiences. However, many get inspiration from these stories too. To connect with your readers, write about a drug abuse journey. It can be your own or from a close friend or relative. Share how it started, including the reasons and influence it left on the people involved. Conclude with the steps the person did to overcome their drug addiction and how they rebuild relationships. Finally, end your essay with how they are currently living.

Here’s a great tip: If writing an essay seems daunting, start by simplifying it to simple paragraphs first. Then, read our guide on how to write a 5 paragraph essay .

essay topics on drugs

Maria Caballero is a freelance writer who has been writing since high school. She believes that to be a writer doesn't only refer to excellent syntax and semantics but also knowing how to weave words together to communicate to any reader effectively.

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Drug and Substance Abuse Essay

Introduction, physiology and psychology of addiction, prescription drug abuse, depressants, hallucinogens.

Drug and substance abuse is an issue that affects entirely all societies in the world. It has both social and economic consequences, which affect directly and indirectly our everyday live. Drug addiction is “a complex disorder characterized by compulsive drug use” (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2010).

It sets in as one form a habit of taking a certain drug. Full-blown drug abuse comes with social problems such as violence, child abuse, homelessness and destruction of families (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2010). To understand to the impact of drug abuse, one needs to explore the reasons why many get addicted and seem unable pull themselves out of this nightmare.

Many experts consider addiction as a disease as it affects a specific part of the brain; the limbic system commonly referred to as the pleasure center. This area, which experts argue to be primitive, is affected by various drug substances, which it gives a higher priority to other things. Peele (1998) argues that alcoholism is a disease that can only be cured from such a perspective (p. 60). Genetics are also seen as a factor in drug addiction even though it has never been exclusively proven.

Other experts view addiction as a state of mind rather than a physiological problem. The environment plays a major role in early stages of addiction. It introduces the agent, in this case the drug, to the abuser who knowingly or otherwise develops dependence to the substance. Environmental factors range from violence, stress to peer pressure.

Moreover, as an individual becomes completely dependent on a substance, any slight withdrawal is bound to be accompanied by symptoms such as pain, which is purely psychological. This is because the victim is under self-deception that survival without the substance in question is almost if not impossible. From his psychological vantage point, Isralowitz (2004) argues that freedom from addiction is achievable provided there is the “right type of guidance and counseling” (p.22).

A doctor as regulated by law usually administers prescription drugs. It may not be certain why many people abuse prescription drugs but the trend is ever increasing. Many people use prescription drugs as directed by a physician but others use purely for leisure. This kind of abuse eventually leads to addiction.

This problem is compounded by the ease of which one can access the drugs from pharmacies and even online. Many people with conditions requiring painkillers, especially the elderly, have a higher risk of getting addicted as their bodies become tolerant to the drugs. Adolescents usually use some prescription drugs and especially painkillers since they induce anxiety among other feelings as will be discussed below.

Stimulants are generally psychoactive drugs used medically to improve alertness, increase physical activity, and elevate blood pressure among other functions. This class of drugs acts by temporarily increasing mental activity resulting to increased awareness, changes in mood and apparently cause the user to have a relaxed feeling. Although their use is closely monitored, they still find their way on the streets and are usually abused.

Getting deeper into the biochemistry of different stimulants, each has a different metabolism in the body affecting different body organs in a specific way. One common thing about stimulants is that they affect the central nervous system in their mechanism. Examples of commonly used stimulants include; cocaine, caffeine, nicotine, amphetamines and cannabis. Cocaine, which has a tremendously high addictive potential, was in the past used as anesthetic and in treatment of depression before its profound effects were later discovered.

On the streets, cocaine is either injected intravenously or smoked. Within a few minutes of use, it stimulates the brain making the user feel euphoric, energetic and increases alertness. It has long-term effects such as seizures, heart attacks and stroke. Cocaine’s withdrawal symptoms range from anxiety, irritability to a strong craving for more cocaine.

Cannabis, also known as marijuana , is the most often abused drug familiar in almost every corner of the world, from the streets of New York to the most remote village in Africa. Although its addiction potential is lower as compared to that of cocaine, prolonged use of cannabis results to an immense craving for more.

It produces hallucinogenic effects, lack of body coordination, and causes a feeling of ecstasy. Long-term use is closely associated with schizophrenia, and other psychological conditions. From a medical perspective, cannabis is used as an analgesic, to stimulate hunger in patients, nausea ameliorator, and intraocular eye pressure reducer. Insomnia, lack of appetite, migraines, restlessness and irritability characterize withdrawal symptoms of cannabis.

Unlike stimulants, depressants reduce anxiety and the central nervous system activity. The most common depressants include barbiturates, benzodiazepines and ethyl alcohol. They are of great therapeutically value especially as tranquilizers or sedatives in reducing anxiety.

Depressants can be highly addictive since they seem to ease tension and bring relaxation. After using depressants for a long time, the body develops tolerance to the drugs. Moreover, body tolerance after continual use requires one use a higher dose to get the same effect. Clumsiness, confusion and a strong craving for the drug accompany gradual withdrawal. Sudden withdrawal causes respiratory complications and can even be fatal.

Narcotics have been used for ages for various ailments and as a pain reliever pain. They are also characterized by their ability to induce sleep and euphoria. Opium, for instance was used in ancient China as a pain reliever and treatment of dysentery and insomnia. Some narcotics such as morphine and codeine are derived from natural sources.

Others are structural analogs to morphine and these include heroin, oxymorphone among others. Narcotics are highly addictive resulting to their strict regulation by a majority of governments. Narcotics act as painkillers once they enter the body.

They are used legally in combination with other drugs as analgesics and antitussives but are abused due to their ability to induce a feeling of well being. Their addiction potential is exceptionally high due to the body’s tolerance after consistent use, forcing the user to use and crave for more to get satisfaction. Increase in respiration rate, diarrhea, anxiety, nausea and lack of appetite are symptoms common to narcotic withdrawal. Others include; running nose, stomach cramps, muscle pains and a strong craving for the drugs.

Hallucinogens affect a person’s thinking capacity causing illusions and behavioral changes especially in moods. They apparently cause someone to hear sounds and see images that do not exist. Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), which commonly abused hallucinogen, has a low addiction potential because it does not have withdrawal effects. They also affect a person’s sexual behavior and other body functions such as body temperature. There are no outright withdrawal symptoms for hallucinogens.

Isralowitz, R. (2004). Drug use: a reference handbook . Santa Barbara, Clif.: ABC-CLIO. Print.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2010). NIDA INfoFacts: Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction . Web.

Peele, S. (1998). The meaning of Addiction : Compulsive Experience and its Interpretation . San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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IvyPanda. (2018, July 19). Drug and Substance Abuse. https://ivypanda.com/essays/drug-and-substance-abuse/

"Drug and Substance Abuse." IvyPanda , 19 July 2018, ivypanda.com/essays/drug-and-substance-abuse/.

IvyPanda . (2018) 'Drug and Substance Abuse'. 19 July.

IvyPanda . 2018. "Drug and Substance Abuse." July 19, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/drug-and-substance-abuse/.

1. IvyPanda . "Drug and Substance Abuse." July 19, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/drug-and-substance-abuse/.


IvyPanda . "Drug and Substance Abuse." July 19, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/drug-and-substance-abuse/.

  • Sedatives or Depressants in Individuals With a Mental Health Problem
  • Using Depressants During Sleep Time
  • The Role of CBT in Managing Severe Depressant Patients
  • Post Incarceration Syndrome
  • Psychoactive Drugs
  • Adolescent’s Drug Abuse and Therapy Success
  • Analysis of the Video “Effects of Alcoholism on Children: An Oral History Video”
  • Child Sexual Abuse: Impact and Consequences

essay topics on drugs

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Research Topics

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is the largest supporter of the world’s research on substance use and addiction. Part of the National Institutes of Health, NIDA conducts and supports biomedical research to advance the science on substance use and addiction and improve individual and public health. Look below for more information on drug use, health, and NIDA’s research efforts.

Information provided by NIDA is not a substitute for professional medical care.

In an emergency? Need treatment?

In an emergency:.

  • Are you or someone you know experiencing severe symptoms or in immediate danger? Please seek immediate medical attention by calling 9-1-1 or visiting an Emergency Department . Poison control can be reached at 1-800-222-1222 or www.poison.org .
  • Are you or someone you know experiencing a substance use and/or mental health crisis or any other kind of emotional distress? Please call or text 988 or chat www.988lifeline.org to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. 988 connects you with a trained crisis counselor who can help.


  • For referrals to substance use and mental health treatment programs, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit www.FindTreatment.gov to find a qualified healthcare provider in your area.
  • For other personal medical advice, please speak to a qualified health professional. Find more health resources on USA.gov .


The emergency and referral resources listed above are available to individuals located in the United States and are not operated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). NIDA is a biomedical research organization and does not provide personalized medical advice, treatment, counseling, or legal consultation. Information provided by NIDA is not a substitute for professional medical care or legal consultation.

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Research by Substance

Find evidence-based information on specific drugs and substance use disorders.

  • Cannabis (Marijuana)
  • Commonly Used Drugs Charts
  • Emerging Drug Trends
  • Methamphetamine
  • MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly)
  • Over-the-Counter Medicines
  • Prescription Medicines
  • Psilocybin (Magic Mushrooms)
  • Psychedelic and Dissociative Drugs
  • Psychedelic and Dissociative Drugs as Medicines
  • Steroids (Anabolic)
  • Synthetic Cannabinoids (K2/Spice)
  • Synthetic Cathinones (Bath Salts)
  • Tobacco/Nicotine and Vaping

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Drug Use and Addiction

Learn how science has deepened our understanding of drug use and its impact on individual and public health.

  • Addiction Science
  • Adolescent Brain
  • Comorbidity
  • Drug Checking
  • Drug Testing
  • Drugged Driving
  • Drugs and the Brain
  • Harm Reduction
  • Infographics
  • Mental Health
  • Monitoring the Future
  • National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS)
  • Overdose Death Rates
  • Overdose Prevention Centers
  • Overdose Reversal Medications
  • Stigma and Discrimination
  • Syringe Services Programs
  • Trauma and Stress
  • Trends and Statistics
  • Words Matter: Preferred Language for Talking About Addiction

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People and Places

NIDA research supports people affected by substance use and addiction throughout the lifespan and across communities.

  • College-Age and Young Adults
  • Criminal Justice
  • Global Health
  • LGBTQ Populations and Substance Use
  • Military Life and Substance Use
  • National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week Organizers and Participants
  • Older Adults
  • Parents and Educators
  • Women and Drugs

Related Resources

  • Learn more about Overdose Prevention from the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Learn more about substance use treatment, prevention, recovery support, and related services from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration .
  • Learn more about the health effects of alcohol and alcohol use disorder from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism .
  • Learn more the approval and regulation of prescription medicines from the Food and Drug Administration .
  • Learn more about efforts to measure, prevent, and address public health impacts of substance use from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
  • Learn more about controlled substance law and regulation enforcement from the Drug Enforcement Administration .
  • Learn more about policies impacting substance use from the Office of National Drug Control Policy .

Drug Abuse - Free Essay Examples And Topic Ideas

Drug abuse, the chronic or habitual use of drugs to alter one’s mood, emotion, or state of consciousness, is a severe social and health issue. Essays on drug abuse could explore the causes and consequences of drug abuse, the various types and classifications of drugs, and the societal reactions to drug abuse. Discussions might also cover prevention and treatment strategies, the portrayal of drug abuse in media and literature, and the ongoing efforts by governments and organizations to combat drug abuse and its detrimental effects. We’ve gathered an extensive assortment of free essay samples on the topic of Drug Abuse you can find at Papersowl. You can use our samples for inspiration to write your own essay, research paper, or just to explore a new topic for yourself.

What are some Solutions to Drug Abuse?

Nowadays, many people have thought that drugs are viable solution for personal problems or any other situations that affect the life of a person, but eventually, if a person reads the words drugs, it becomes a real problem in the current society. Therefore, there are factors that expose the drugs as an issue in the society. How can we understand this point? First, the abuse of different substances and drugs are one of the most common situations that teenagers and […]

Teenage Drug Abuse

There is a major concern about the teenage drug use today. Within the ages 15 through 24, fifty percent of deaths (from homicides, accidents, suicides) involve drugs. The two common reasons why teens use drugs are anxiety and depression. Factors like peer pressure, desire to escape, curiosity, emotional struggles, and stress may also lead to the consumption of drugs or alcohol. Teens are more likely to abuse drugs than adults because the part of their brain used for judgment and […]

Drug Addictions

Drug addictions are something that many people in America face. A lot of families today face a person who is a drug addict or an alcoholic and this is breaking up families. People can help people addicted to drugs by providing community support, education,and teaching drug addicts how to deal with stress after overcoming addiction. Community and support groups are a great ways and opportunities for recovering addicts to be able to meet and befriend people who are also going […]

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Poverty and Drug Abuse Addiction

One popular stereotype associated with drug use is that it is rampant among the poor. However, this is not entirely true since insufficient money linked with the poor cannot probably sustain drug use. The link between the two factors is multifaceted, and the connectedness of poverty is complex. Poverty entails unstable family and interpersonal associations, low-skilled jobs and low status, high arrest degrees, illegitimacy, school dropping out, deprived physical health, high mental conditions, and high mortality rates. Such factors resemble […]

Background on Drug Abuse

Drug abuse has been around for as long as the world has been created. Drug abuse dates back to the early 5000 B.C. when the Sumerians used opium, suggested by the fact that they have an ideogram for it which has been translated as HUL, meaning joy or rejoicing (Lindesmith, 2008). It then occurred often later on because indigenous South Americans chewed on coca leaves in the rainforest as a type of ritual, giving them stimulation and energy. Since then, […]

Drug Testing

For every student who complains that drug testing is an invasion of his or hers privacy we can show you a hundred parents who have lost their children to drugs. With drug testing students get a safe place where they can learn. Even the teachers are better off with this, because with less drugs schools are much safer. Should High School students or even college students be routinely tested for drug use? Before you answer think about this as a […]

Drug Abuse in Sports

Drug abuse occurs in all sports and at most levels of competition. Athletic life may lead to drug abuse for a number of reasons,, to self-treat injuries, and retirement from sport. Most sport organizations ban the use of any drug that can help your ability to excel in any sport. Using enhancing drugs, always have side effects like easy to anger, depression, and even death. Today people may know that athletes use steroids and performance-enhancing drugs, but it is only […]

Drug Abuse – Destructive Pattern

Drug abuse is the destructive pattern of using substances that leads to uncounted problems and diseases in the human body. It is a physical and psychological term which takes dependence on human activities. Drugs create bad effects on human life like anxiety, impaired social relations, depression, hopelessness, rejection etc. Impaired social relations and suicide are considered the worst consequences of addiction. The drugs have negative consequences on one's life. If the addicts were able to see the reality of their […]

The Truth about Drugs – Illegal Drugs

A close amount of 280 million people consume illegal drugs. The most commonly used illegal drug is marijuana or weed. According to the United Nations 2008 World Drug Report close to 3.9% of the earth's population between the ages of 15 and 64 abuse marijuana. Many teenagers and adults abuse drugs everyday. According to many sources a lot of people who let drugs control their lives have turned their life around and made a successful life. While others are still […]

Drug Abuse in the United States

Drug abuse in the United States has long been a topical issue and persists even today. Many different reasons make people get addicted as well as different levels to which people get dependent on drugs. Opioid use and abuse may start out of curiosity while others take them as prescribed medication for treatment but in the long run, they get addicted. In the United States, many people label Opioid addiction as a health problem rather than drug addiction. The reason […]

Effects of Drug Abuse on Families

Abstract In the USA, the family units have emerged to much complicated. Families continue to evolve ranging from the extended, nuclear and up to the single parenting family setups. Others are the stepfamilies, multigenerational and the foster types of families. Thus, abuse by a member of the family of substances may result in differences based on the formation of the family itself. This paper presents a discussion on the issues of treatment that may emerge within the various structures of […]

Drugs – Escape from Reality

Who wants to escape from reality? You must go for Drugs then. A phenomenon used by all fools in today's world. Drug abuse is when one misuses the drugs in a harmful way. Drug addiction is harmful not only for the addicted but also has a lot of negative effects on society. There is no country in the world where such a problem doesn't exist. Today this issue is often being discussed by doctors who claim that dope abuse mainly […]

Drug Abuse Prevention and Control

The deep, energetic and sonorous voice of Whitney Houston that graced our ears will truly be missed. She was found dead in her house as a result of cocaine overdose. She was about 48 when she died. So will young Mac Miller and Lil Peep- talented celebrities who died of accidental fentanyl overdose at a very young age. Their stories, we heard due to the status they have achieved in the society. There are millions of other young people all […]

Drug Abuse in the Community i Live in

The overwhelming problem of drug abuse in Decatur, Illinois has developed into a major issue. For example, Heroin, crack cocaine, powder cocaine, prescription opioids, marijuana, and meth are being sold and used at an epidemic rate. Some cities drug problems might be worse than Decatur's, however, for the small size of this city, the drug abuse is phenomenal. Although some people might not see drug addiction as an illness, people are not drug addicts by choice, but after trying the […]

Drug Abuse and Overdosing Deaths

Drug abuse and overdosing are a grave issue that is affecting the nation. The death rate has increased intensely in recent years in United States due to Overdosing on drugs with number of deaths doubling every nine years including accidental and unintentional deaths. (Cunningham, 2018). The abuse and dependence to opioids- including heroin, fentanyl, and prescription drugs for pain relief is a serious nationwide catastrophe that disturbs communal health and as well as economical, psychological, social, and physiological welfare. The […]

The Drug Abuse Across the United States of America

The drug abuse across the United States of America has been noticed as a tremendous problem since the past thirty years, whether it being the use of prescription drugs or illicit drugs. According to the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health, (NIDA, 2015) it is estimated that 24.6 million Americans, in 2013, from ages twelve and older had used illicit drugs. Americans generally take drugs for variety reasons, that being to feel better, be better, or do better. […]

Most Drugs and Medicated Substances Can be Beneficial

People do misuse drugs and medications. Drug abuse occurs when an individual excessively exploits a drug or medication outside of its original function, which could result in harm to the user, their families, and even their community (Huffman & Dowdell, 2015). Abusing drugs can cause hazardous consequences that will affect a person from a biological, psychological, and social standpoint. Fortunately, drug abuse can be prevented and treated. The Foundation Recovery Network (2018) expresses that drug abuse and drug addiction are […]

Effects of Parental Alcoholism and Drug Abuse on Teens

Addiction is a word very common in our day to day lives, but not very many people actually know what it is or how to treat it. It is an individualistic disease that can infect everybody, not just a certain group of people, with damages that can ripple through families for years to come. Addiction within parents can have effects lasting lifetimes within the family and can also have a huge societal impact. For many, addiction is a scary word, […]

Student: Drug Abuse, Struggle, and Health Risks.

Today’s student faces many risks, including drug abuse, struggle, and health risks. Reacting to these risks before they become more serious dilemmas can be difficult. One of the purposes of dealing with drug abuse is to encourage the public to understand the causes of drug abuse and to prevent its onset. Drug abuse has serious consequences in our homes, schools, and communities. The use of all illegal drugs and the inappropriate use of licit drugs is considered drug abuse. Teens […]

Drug Abuse Among Students

Medication manhandle is these days one of the gravest social damages. Late years have encountered an extreme ascent in sedate manhandle among school and college understudies. In America today, more people struggle with some kind of addiction to drugs than in the past. Alcohol use is high among college students and places them at risk for health problems, injuries, and poor academic performance. Drugs have a chemical effect that damage the brain and body. Drugs have shown to interfere with […]

The Correlation between Adult Drug Abusers and Children

The National Institute on drug abuse estimates that a quarter of children in the U.S. grow up in households where there is substance abuse. It makes them 8 times more likely to develop an addiction of their own. Many children are unfortunate enough to have to pay the consequences that drug abusing adults indirectly throw at them. Many of these children grow up to be adults who have, over time, developed the same habits. Others have no control over the […]

Substance Abuse and Development

Substance abuse can be defined as the overindulgence in addictive substance or the reliance on an addictive substance, especially illicit drugs like crystal methamphetamine and others. Methamphetamine, or meth, as it is popularly called is a highly addictive stimulant that creates a feeling of energy, heightened alertness and euphoria. It is synthetically prepared, using toxic and flammable chemicals and side effects include irregular and rapid heartbeat, hyperthermia, convulsions, stroke, insomnia, high blood pressure, restlessness, and tremors . Meth can be […]

Prescription Drug Abuse

In reading the articles 'Nonmedical Prescription Drug Use Among US Young Adults by Educational Attainment,' 'Ethnic/Racial Differences in Peer and Parent Influence on Adolescent Prescription Drug Misuse,' and 'Influences of Motivational Contexts on Prescription Drug Misuse and Related Drug Problems', they all highlight the misuse of prescription drug use by young adults. Each article provides its unique interpretation of studies concerning how and why youth misuse prescription drugs on an ethnic level. The articles also discuss the risks of prescription […]

Drug Abuse in Athletes

Is taking drugs to boost yourself up just to win or maybe even break a record really worth losing your career over? All the hard work you put in over the years, just for it to be taken away from you in a second over performance enhancing drugs because you wanted to win. Maybe your injury was so bad that you need to use illegal drugs to cure it without doctor orders. As a result, to this you could risk […]

Investigation of the Effects of Drug Abuse

ABSTRACT In investigation of the effects of drug abuse on adolescents' academic performance various theoretical perspectives were utilized and strategies to curb drug use were also identified. The study was conducted in Triangle: Chiredzi; Masvingo Province of Zimbabwe. The participants were from 3 High schools. The students' ages were ranging from 12 to 21 years. A descriptive survey design combining both qualitative and quantitative research strategies was employed. The researcher used a purposive sampling technique. The sample size represented 10% […]

The Truth of Drug Abuse

As Nathan Driskell once said, Addiction is the only prison where the locks are on the inside. Addiction is a common issue and numerous people don't realize. Over twenty million Americans under the age of 18 are already addicted to a drug. Drug abuse is a major concern despite a person's race, gender, national origin, ethnicity, social status, or religion. Addictions can affect anyone and can be caused by a variety of reasons. To overcome an addiction and staying drug […]

People with an Addiction have a Mental Illness

6.8 million people with an addiction have a mental illness. When people think about addictions they automatically think about a drug addiction. Although it is the most common addiction in America, there are plenty of other addictions. For example, Food addiction, video game addiction, working addiction, and an exercising addiction just to name a few. An addiction is abusing the use of a substance and that can be bad for you if you use too much of it. There are […]

What is Drug and Drug Abuse?

Drugs are substances that can affect the body’s function either physically or mentally, and also kill many cells in our body when we consume them. There are many factors that contribute to drug addiction. One of these factors is peer pressure. Many people succumb to peer pressure, but this is particularly prevalent among teenagers and children, as they are not yet mature mentally, and tend to emulate their surroundings. As an example, if a person has loved ones or friends […]

Reflection of Motivation of Early Dropout from Drug Abuse Treatment

The correlation between early dropout addicts and lack of motivation. Simpson created three scales used to determine the stages of cognitive treatment. Simpson and Joe constructed a theory that different lifestyles can influence how the client will succeed in the treatment program. This study's motive is to test the accuracy of three motivation levels for early treatment dropouts. This study consist of 311 clients, addicts, with diverse socio demographics that are located in Corpus Christi, Dallas, And Houston. The clients […]

Drug Abuse: War on Drugs

Drug abuse has been happening over so many years and it’s bad for our community. A drug isn't a good thing to mess with it understandable if its used for reasonable reasons but more than needed is drug abuse. Some people disagree with this and opposed to other side drugs are good for our community. Many people coming back from the war will be addicted to drugs and alcohol due to the massage amount of drugs that is given to […]

Additional Example Essays

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  • Why the Drinking Age Should NOT be Lowered
  • The Great Gatsby and Prohibition
  • Leadership and the Army Profession
  • Why College Should Not Be Free
  • Shakespeare's Hamlet Character Analysis
  • A Raisin in the Sun Theme

How To Write an Essay About Drug Abuse

Understanding the complexity of drug abuse.

When tackling an essay about drug abuse, it's essential to first comprehend the intricacies of the topic. Drug abuse, a prevalent issue globally, involves the chronic or habitual use of drugs for non-medical purposes, leading to health hazards and socio-economic problems. In your introduction, define drug abuse and distinguish it from drug use and addiction. Address the multifaceted nature of the issue, encompassing psychological, physiological, and societal dimensions. This foundation is crucial for guiding your exploration of drug abuse, its causes, effects, and potential solutions. Recognizing the sensitivity and complexity of this topic is key to writing an insightful and respectful essay.

Analyzing Causes and Effects

The body of your essay should delve into the causes and effects of drug abuse. Explore the various factors that can lead to drug abuse, such as psychological distress, peer pressure, socio-economic status, and exposure to drugs in the family or community. Then, discuss the ramifications of drug abuse on individuals, families, and society. These effects can include health issues, strained relationships, financial problems, and societal costs like increased crime and healthcare expenses. Use specific examples and data to support your points, while maintaining a compassionate tone, acknowledging that individuals suffering from drug abuse often face a complex interplay of challenges.

Addressing Prevention and Treatment

In this section, shift your focus to prevention and treatment strategies for drug abuse. Discuss different approaches to preventing drug abuse, such as education and awareness programs, policy changes, and community support initiatives. Then, examine the various treatment options available, including medical interventions, counseling, rehabilitation programs, and support groups. It's crucial to discuss the importance of a holistic approach to treatment, which addresses not just the physical aspect of addiction but also the psychological and social factors. This part of your essay should highlight the importance of compassion and support in addressing drug abuse, rather than solely punitive measures.

Concluding with a Call to Awareness and Action

Conclude your essay by summarizing the main points and emphasizing the importance of addressing drug abuse in society. Reflect on the need for increased awareness, better prevention strategies, and effective treatment programs. Encourage readers to consider the role they can play in combating drug abuse, whether through personal support, advocacy, or policy change. A strong conclusion will not only provide closure to your essay but also inspire a sense of responsibility and urgency in dealing with this critical issue.

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  • A Research Guide
  • Research Paper Topics
  • 40 Drug Abuse & Addiction Research Paper Topics

40 Drug Abuse & Addiction Research Paper Topics

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Drug Abuse and Sociology

Drug abuse and medicine, drug abuse and psychology.

  • Drug abuse and the degradation of neuron cells
  • The social aspects of the drug abuse. The most vulnerable categories of people
  • Drugs and religion. Drug abuse as the part of the sacred rituals
  • Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
  • Drug abuse as the part of human trafficking and as psychological defence of victims
  • Reversible and irreversible consequences of drug abuse
  • Drug abuse and minors
  • Ethnic and cultural traditions that may lead to drug abuse
  • Medical marijuana. Can legalizing it lead to drug abuse?
  • The ethical questions of abusing painkiller drugs or other drugs that ease the state of a person
  • The “club culture”. May it enhance the danger of drug abuse?
  • Preventing drug abuse. Mandatory examination or voluntary learning: what will help most?
  • The abstinence after the drug abuse. Rehabilitation and resocialization of the victims of it
  • The harm done by drug abuse to the family and social relations
  • The types of drugs and the impact of their abuse to the human body
  • The positive effects of drugs. May they be reached without drawbacks of drug abuse?
  • Alcoholics Anonymous, similar organisations and their role in overcoming the dependency
  • Is constant smoking a drug abuse? Quitting smoking: government and social decisions
  • Exotic addictions: game addiction, porn addiction etc. Do they have the effects similar to drug abuse?
  • Substance abuse during pregnancy and before conceiving. What additional harm it causes?
  • The correlation between drugs and spreading of HIV/AIDS
  • Drug abuse and crime rates
  • History of drug abuse. Opium houses, heroin cough syrup and others
  • Drunk driving and drunk violence. The indirect victims of alcohol abuse
  • The social rejection of the former drug abusers and the way to overcome it
  • The main causes of drug abuse in the different social groups
  • Drug abuse and mental health
  • LGBTQ+ and drug abuse
  • The development of drug testing. The governmental implementation of it
  • Geniuses and drug abuse. Did drugs really helped them to create their masterpieces?
  • Shall the laws about drug abuse be changed?
  • Health Care Information Technology
  • Drug abuse and global health throughout the 20-21 centuries
  • Personal freedom or the safety of society: can drugs be allowed for personal use?
  • Legal drinking age in different countries and its connection to the cultural diversity
  • The different attitude to drugs and drug abuse in the different countries. Why it differs so much?
  • Teenage and college culture. Why substance abuse is considered to be cool?
  • Drugs, rape and robbery. Drugging people intentionally as the way to prevent them defending themselves
  • 12-Step Programs and their impact on healing the drug addiction
  • Alcohol, tobacco and sleeping pills advertising. Can it lead to more drug abuse?

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Home — Essay Samples — Nursing & Health — Medical Practice & Treatment — Drugs

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Essays About Drugs

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The Important Lessons of Self Importance and Self Reliance Taught by My Mother

The addiction of america with drugs, an analysis of the argument on the benefits of legalizing drugs, the failure of america's war on drugs, let us write you an essay from scratch.

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A Brief History of The War on Drugs

Substance abuse impact on the family, the difference between legal and illegal drugs, drug trafficking in the republic of colombia, get a personalized essay in under 3 hours.

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The Consequences of The Drug Ban in Switzerland

Tackling the menace drug trafficking, how drug trafficking impacts the economy and the world at large, mdma - a type of synthetic drug, drug & alcohol treatment in america (on the example of arkansas), negative effects associated with prescription drugs on children with adhd, the drug abuse problem, the reasons why ped users should and shouldn’t be in the hall of fame, nanoemulsion: an innovative drug delivery, physical and psychological consequences of long term drug use, drug addiction is a powerful evil demon, the purpose of war is peace, parenteral nutrition in cancer chemotherapy, personal reflections on narcotics anonymous meetings, drug abuse in kenya, narcotic abuse and its impact on the creative process throughout art history, stimulants: why we should avoid them, the pros and cons of drug legitimization in america, impact of drug abuse on today's society, ibuprofen ert.

Writing about drugs has always been one of those topics that both colleges and universities explore in the most varied curriculum courses. As a rule, it deals with more than addiction but also encompasses medication, history, anthropology, and the other sciences through the lens of substance analysis and the cultural aspect of things. As for the history of the subjects, you can go as far as exploring the culture of Aztecs and Ancient Rome to writing about drug trafficking and the prevention measures. Since this subject poses major social importance, feel free to explore it as part of your course.

Taking a look at the history, the use of drugs has always been around since it has started out not as the entertainment of a doubtful nature but mostly as medication and a way to combat the pain. Think about painkillers as an example. Alternatively, you can use various modern methods of exploration and talk about how drugs are perceived in modern society if your university course deals with culture. Most importantly, try to focus on several aspects of writing about drugs by including at least one social point.

Not many of you may remember about the D.A.R.E. campaign that has been one of the first national movements against the youth of drugs among young people. One of the most famous anti-drug activists is Jackie Chan who has been named as the world's first global anti-drug ambassador. The other people include an American actress called Melissa Gilbert who serves as the national spokesperson for the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. The involvement of celebrities has been much lower than what it could have been, yet focusing on the children seems to be an important initiative to think about it since it is the only way to protect our future.

  • Drugs can be used for medical purposes.
  • The control of drugs for medical purposes should not be sold over the counter.
  • The use of soft drugs leads to the use of “something more significant”.
  • While drugs have always been around, the lack of education is a greater issue.
  • Providing anti-drug initiatives is the way of control that would explain the dangers.

The topic of drugs has always been interesting for educators, researchers, and students. Some want to experiment with the cultural aspects and study the past, while others will focus on the exploration of the criminal side of things. Either way, your college task may deal with the educational initiatives that you would like to provide as a way to protect the youth. You can even tell about your experience and share the ways how a person can recover.

Regardless if you are writing an essay for your Social Sciences course, study to become a journalist in the future, or explore drugs through the lens of Chemistry and Pharmacology, dealing with this topic becomes inevitable. You can see some examples in our database to see how broad it can be if you expand your research towards Latin America, Mexico, or the Middle East. Make sure to support each argument with a good source and provide your opinion as well. Remember that writing about drugs is a very sensitive topic in some cases, therefore, show respect and care.

In truth, there are many ways to address this problem, yet it requires a systematic approach and the involvement of schools, parents, educators, and social services. The culture of the community and the gangs should change because once the drugs are perceived as something popular, it is always taken as something good that provides a person with a status. Nevertheless, one should start with the young people and teach them to avoid this kind of trouble in the first place. While it is hardly possible to control the drugs around the world, it is possible to say “no”.

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  • Medical Marijuana
  • Eating Disorders
  • Healthy Food
  • Childhood Obesity

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essay topics on drugs

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A list of impressive essay topics on drug and alcohol abuse.

Depending on the student's major, essays on drug addiction and alcohol abuse may be common assignments. Counseling programs and psychology classes will normally spend at least one class focused on this subject. To create a well-written essay, students must have a good topic. If the student actually cares about the topic of their paper, they are more likely to spend the extra time researching and writing that A+ papers require.

A List of Potential Topics

  • 1. Does a gambling addiction activate the same parts of the brain as a drug addiction?
  • 2. How does alcoholism increase someone's chances of having a child fetal alcohol syndrome?
  • 3. Are 12-step programs the most effective way to combat an addiction?
  • 4. What caused methamphetamine to become a common recreational drug in the United States?
  • 5. Which drug is “easier” to quit? Are certain drugs more addictive than others?
  • 6. How does alcohol abuse during adolescence increase the chances of someone developing a drug addiction?
  • 7. Are smokers more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol?
  • 8. Is marijuana addictive? Should recovered addicts be allowed to use marijuana?
  • 9. Does the presence of drugs increase crime rates in a specific area? Is this true for every drug or just some of the drugs?10. What are some of the techniques available for preventing substance abuse during pregnancy?
  • 11. If a women tests positive for drugs after giving birth, should her child be taken away or should she be required to attend an outpatient rehab?
  • 12. How is the treatment of sex addiction similar to treating drug abuse?
  • 13. What is the difference between alcohol abuse and alcoholism?
  • 14. Are steroids addictive? Why are they illegal like recreational drugs?
  • 15. What are some activities that recovered addicts can use to replace the time that used to be spent on their addiction?
  • 16. Are the children of addicts more likely to become addicts when they are adults?
  • 17. How does drug abuse relate to domestic violence, crime and sexual abuse? Is this a correlation or a causation?
  • 18. In countries like the Netherlands, drugs are completely legal and taxed heavily. These taxes are later used to pay for rehabilitation rather than prison for addicts. Is this a more effective or less effective than the techniques practiced in the United States?
  • 19. If alcohol were created today, would it be legal to sell in the United States? What are some of the physical health effects of drinking?
  • 20. What is the difference between binge drinking and alcoholism?
  • 21. Does drinking during pregnancy also increase the health risks for the mother?

essay topics on drugs

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Essay on Drugs

Students are often asked to write an essay on Drugs in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on Drugs


Drugs are substances that alter the way our body functions. They can be legal like medicine, or illegal like marijuana or cocaine.

Types of Drugs

Drugs can be categorized into two types. Legal drugs, prescribed by doctors, help us fight diseases. Illegal drugs, however, harm our bodies.

Effects of Drugs

Drugs can cause physical and mental changes. Some may feel happy or relaxed, but it also leads to harmful effects like addiction and health issues.

While some drugs can help us, illegal drugs are dangerous. It’s important to make wise choices for our health.

Also check:

  • Paragraph on Drugs
  • Speech on Drugs

250 Words Essay on Drugs

Drugs, substances that alter physiological or psychological functions, can be life-saving or life-threatening. The dichotomy of drugs is intriguing – they can cure diseases and alleviate pain, yet misuse can lead to addiction, health issues, and even death.

Therapeutic Use of Drugs

In the medical field, drugs are indispensable. They are used to treat a myriad of diseases, from common colds to life-threatening conditions like cancer. Antibiotics, antivirals, pain relievers, and vaccines are all examples of drugs that have revolutionized healthcare and improved life expectancy.

Drug Misuse and Addiction

On the flip side, recreational drug use and addiction are significant societal problems. Drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine are highly addictive and can lead to severe health problems, including mental health disorders, organ damage, and death. The misuse of prescription drugs is also a growing concern.

Legal and Ethical Implications

The legality and ethics of drug use are complex. While some drugs are legal and socially acceptable, like alcohol and tobacco, others are illegal yet widely used. The war on drugs, aimed at reducing illegal drug trade, has been a controversial topic with arguments about its effectiveness and ethical implications.

In conclusion, the world of drugs is multifaceted and complex. While they hold immense potential for healing, they can also cause significant harm if misused. As such, understanding drugs, their effects, and the implications of their use is crucial in our society today.

500 Words Essay on Drugs

The issue of drug use, abuse, and addiction is a complex and pervasive problem in societies worldwide. Drugs, whether legal or illegal, can cause significant harm to individuals and communities, affecting not only the physical and mental health of users but also the social fabric of our society. This essay will delve into the multifaceted issue of drugs, exploring their effects and the various strategies employed to combat their misuse.

The Nature of Drugs and Their Effects

Drugs are substances that alter the body’s physiological processes. They range from legal substances like alcohol and tobacco, prescription medications, to illegal substances like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. The effects of drugs on the human body and mind are diverse and depend on the type of drug, the dosage, the frequency of use, and the individual’s physiology.

The short-term effects can include altered mood, perception, and behavior, while long-term use can lead to addiction, physical damage, mental health disorders, and in extreme cases, death. The social consequences are equally severe, with drug use often linked to crime, unemployment, family breakdown, and social dislocation.

The Cycle of Addiction

Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, difficult to control, despite harmful consequences. It involves a cycle that typically begins with experimentation and social use, followed by regular use, risky use, and finally, dependence and addiction. The brain’s reward system is hijacked, creating a powerful drive to continue using the drug despite negative consequences.

Prevention and Treatment Approaches

Addressing the drug problem requires a multifaceted approach. Prevention strategies are crucial and often focus on education and awareness, aiming to reduce the demand for drugs by informing individuals, particularly young people, about the risks and consequences of drug use.

Treatment for drug addiction is complex and often involves a combination of medication, therapy, and support services. It requires a personalized approach, as each individual’s situation is unique. The goal of treatment is to help individuals stop using drugs, maintain a drug-free lifestyle, and achieve productive functioning in the family, at work, and in society.

Policy and Legal Considerations

Drug policies and laws play a crucial role in regulating drug use and addressing drug-related harm. Policies range from prohibition and criminalization to harm reduction and legalization. The debate around the most effective approach is ongoing and often polarized.

In conclusion, drugs and their misuse present significant challenges to individuals and societies. Understanding the nature of drugs, the cycle of addiction, and the various prevention and treatment strategies is crucial. Equally important is an informed discourse on drug policies and laws. As we continue to grapple with this issue, it is essential to remember that at the heart of the drug problem are individuals who need help, understanding, and support.

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This Is a Very Weird Moment in the History of Drug Laws

The war on drugs failed, but decriminalization is facing its own backlash. what’s next.


From New York Times Opinion, this is “The Ezra Klein Show.”

In 2020, voters in Oregon passed a ballot measure, a drug reform policy, that was beyond what I ever thought would pass in any state in America.

Overnight, Oregon became the first state in the country to decriminalize most street drugs.

Even drugs like cocaine, heroin, meth, and oxycodone.

It’s a sea change. Measure 110, which was passed by 58 percent of Oregon voters, treats active drug users as potential patients rather than criminals.

I’ve been involved in drug policy reform for a long time. I got into it in high school. And this was not a politics that seemed possible back then. In that era, the idea that you would have a state decriminalize heroin possession, I mean, it was unthinkable. But in the coming decades, there would be a real turn on the war on drugs — the overpolicing, the mass incarceration, the racism, the broken families. It was not achieving, as far as anybody could tell, anybody’s policy goals.

So we began to move in this other direction. Oregon was at the vanguard of this, but it wasn’t alone. In Washington state, you saw the Supreme Court overturn the law that had made a lot of drug possessions and felonies. In a bunch of different cities, you had these very liberal district attorneys who instead of running on tough on crime platforms were running against overpolicing, against mass incarceration.

Something that had really never been tried before in America was all of a sudden being tried. We were moving towards a radically different equilibrium than anybody had imagined even just a few years before on drugs. I mean, you could walk down the streets — you can right now in many states — and buy all kinds of cannabis products from shops. It was, again, unthinkable.

But this politics and these policies are not working out the way people had hoped. Chesa Boudin, who was the district attorney in San Francisco, one of these very liberal set of reformers, he was recalled. Legislation was passed rebuilding an enforcement structure around drugs in Washington state. There are a lot of concerns and, I think, quite bright ones about how cannabis legalization and particularly cannabis commercialization is working out in a bunch of places.

And in Oregon, Measure 110 was gutted. The results of it had not been what many of the advocates had hoped for. Drug policy feels very unsettled to me right now. The war on drugs was a failure, often a cruel one. The war on the war on drugs has not been the success its advocates had hoped. So what comes next?

Keith Humphreys is a professor at Stanford University who specializes in addiction and drug policy. He’s advised the White House, California, the UK. I always find that he balances compassion and rigor unusually well. So I wanted to have him walk me through what he has seen and where he’s landed. As always, my email for guest suggestions, for reflections, [email protected].

Keith Humphreys, welcome to the show.

Thanks, Ezra. Good to talk to you.

There’s a tendency to just use this term “drugs.” And that tendency just belies a huge amount of variation, I think, in how people think about different drugs, how they think about opioids, how they think about stimulants, how they think about psychedelics, how they think about cannabis, alcohol, caffeine. Is this a useful term?

So “drug” is an incredibly vague term that covers an enormous number of drugs that have very different properties. The biggest one, I think, is the capacity to instill addiction. People don’t get addicted to LSD, for example. But they do get addicted to heroin. That’s really important. They do get addicted to nicotine. That’s really important. So you would think about those drugs differently, the ones that have the ability to generate an illness with obsessive compulsion to use in the face of destructive consequences over and over and over again. Those belong in their own class, I think.

The second thing is that we should stop pretending that legal and illegal drugs are so different for lots of reasons. We could learn much more about what to do with illegal drugs if we looked at legal drugs. When I talk to policymakers, they say, well, I know what I don’t want. And that’s a carceral, racist war on drugs. I say, OK, I’m glad that option is off the table. That, of course, leaves millions and millions of other options to choose from.

And how some people have framed that is there’s really only two choices here. You can have that, that horrible thing. Or you can throw the switch the other way — tolerance, acceptance, public sale. And that’s going to be better.

And the problem with that argument, even before we get into what happened in places like Oregon, is the number one drug that kills people on the planet is cigarettes. The number one drug associated with arrests, violence, and incarceration is alcohol. Those drugs are legal. It’s not that drugs suddenly become easy to deal with once they’re legal.

You get to pick the set of problems you have, as our mutual friend Mark Kleiman used to say. But you don’t get to get rid of those problems. So people are right to identify substantial costs to prohibition of drugs or for that matter of everything. But that is different than saying there is some other framework that doesn’t also include pretty substantial costs.

So this major drug policy reform went into effect in Oregon in 2021, Measure 110. It passes. What happens next?

Part of what happens is exactly what the reformers hoped would happen, which is that there’s a dramatic drop in arrests — arrests for drug possession and arrests for drug dealing. So they say, wow, that’s a victory. On the other hand, some of the other aspects of it didn’t work out the way people planned.

So there was a system that they thought would encourage people to enter treatment in replacement of criminal penalties. You’d be written a ticket, let’s say, if you were using fentanyl on a park bench. And it said there’s $100 fine for doing this, but you don’t have to pay the fine. All you have to do is call this toll free number, and you can get a health assessment and a potential referral to treatment. Well, it turned out that over 95 percent of the people got those tickets simply threw them away, which, keeping with the spirit of the law, there was no consequence for doing that. Hardly anybody called. The new body they set up to distribute the new funds had very serious management problems because the people — they may have been terrific human beings, but they weren’t actually experienced in how do you run a government bureaucracy.

So there was no real improvement in the availability of treatment, no real improvement in the number of people interested in seeking it. And those things may well have contributed to Oregon having a very high overdose rate. So currently going up about 40 percent per year, 4-0. Of course, some of that is due to fentanyl, which is raising — I’m here in California. Our rate’s up 5 percent, but it’s certainly not up 40 percent.

And the last thing is the intangible. And I say this as someone who goes to Oregon a lot and talks to people there almost every week, which is just the change in neighborhoods was really palpable of what it was like to go out in the street or try to go to a park, how much visible drug use you saw, how much disorder connected to it. And this was accentuated even further by the pandemic. There were fewer people on the street who had the choice. So the experience became more frightening as people were perhaps outnumbered in their neighborhood by people who had clearly visible problems were using drugs. And that generated significant and, I think, understandable upset as to how things were going in Oregon.

So not everybody agrees that Measure 110 was a failure, certainly not as a policy. I mean, it definitely failed politically. The Drug Policy Alliance says that it failed because of disinformation because there was a concerted effort to undermine it. And they cite data from the Oregon Health Authority saying that, look, health needs screenings increased by almost 300 percent. Substance use disorder treatment increased by 143 percent. Is there some argument to this that we’re looking at the wrong measures and, judged according to its goals, 110 was actually kind of working?

If what you care about the most was a drop in drug arrests and involvement of people who use drugs and deal drugs in the criminal justice system, then it was a success clearly because there was very little contact anymore between law enforcement and people who sell and deal drugs. But on the health side, no, I don’t think that. And those statistics on treatment I believe count a lot of one time consultations. I think what most people, particularly people who love someone who has an addiction, are looking for is evidence on people getting better, people getting into recovery, not just at some point having some transitory contact with the system.

There’s another argument that’s made in the Drug Policy Alliance document and other things I’ve seen and that has occurred to me, too, because when I think about Oregon, when I think about San Francisco, when I think about Washington State, I mean, you’re talking about places with very broken housing markets. We’ll talk I’m sure more about the Tenderloin.

But the Tenderloin is dystopic in the way the Tenderloin is dystopic because it is a giant homeless encampment. And that was true well before the current wave of drug policy liberalization. And so one argument here is that the drug system is being blamed for policymakers’ inability to solve these other problems. Is there something to that?

There’s an intense argument out here in the Bay Area between people who say, look, the homeless crisis is just a side effect of addiction. And people say, look, the addiction crisis is just a side effect of homelessness. And I would say they’re both wrong in that, even within my personal group of acquaintances, I know people who lost their home because of an addiction. And it’s not that the housing market discharged them, they had an empty property. But they were out on the streets. And then there are people who lost their housing and then were living next to drug markets on the streets and developed an addiction there.

So I don’t think we can separate that Gordian knot. And I don’t know if in policy terms we have to. I mean, I think we should be able to pursue policies that increase the access to housing and still work on policies that reduce the damage from addiction.

So to go back to Oregon and one of the theories that was operating there was that we’re going to move more money into treatment. We’re going to make it easier and safer in the sense that you will not be arrested for seeking treatment. We’re going to make it easier and safer for you to seek treatment. We’re going to make it cheap to seek treatment. Why didn’t more people seek treatment?

That theory reflects a misunderstanding about the nature of addiction, which is that it is like, say, chronic pain or depression, conditions that feel lousy for the person who has them all day long, and they will do anything to get rid of them. Drug addiction is not like that. It has many painful experiences. It destroys people’s lives.

But drug use feels in the short term incredibly good. That is why people do it. They’re getting intense reward. So they are ambivalent about giving that up in a way no one with chronic pain is ambivalent about giving up chronic pain and no one with depression is ambivalent about giving up depression.

The other point about it is a huge number of the problems from drug use and addiction fall on other people rather than the person concerned. And so people like me who work in this field, we get calls and calls and calls from mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children concerned about their loved ones. But it’s very rare we get a call from somebody concerned about their own use.

Take the law out of it and look at a drug that is legal and widely accepted. Studies of people who seek treatment for an alcohol problem, slightly over 9 in 10 of those people say they were pressured to come. And the pressure might be family pressure, mom and dad said or my spouse said, this keeps up, I’m moving out. The boss said, one more day drunk at work, and you’re fired. Doctor said, you keep doing this, you will be dead in six months. It could be this is your fourth or fifth arrest for drunk driving, and your lawyer says, you better get into treatment because the judge otherwise might throw you in the penitentiary. That is overwhelmingly the situation of people seeking treatment — pressure from outside.

So let’s just remove all pressure. No legal pressure, no disapproval. Then people will spontaneously say, OK, I really want to make a change, and I’ll come in. Look, those of us who do this for a living, we pray for patients like that. It’s great when they come in, but that is just a very rare person.

Let me ask about this from the other direction, which is maybe this all just wasn’t nearly liberal enough because one of the arguments made — and I do think there’s evidence behind it — is people are getting stuff they don’t know. And the reason people die from fentanyl laced heroin or simply fentanyl that they thought was heroin is because they don’t have a source they can trust. Part of the difficulty here is, yes, people end up addicted. We don’t have really good treatments for addiction that we can come back to whether you think that is a true claim.

And then we also make it very difficult for people and dangerous for people to get what they need to avoid withdrawal to keep feeling normal. And if we made that easier on them, if we made it so they didn’t have to go to a place like the Tenderloin and instead get something safe, they would not die from overdose. They would not die from fentanyl laced heroin. Is there validity to that?

Yeah, well, certainly using fentanyl in an illicit market is extraordinarily dangerous. And my colleagues and I are trying to figure out the death rate per year of a regular user. It might be as high as 5 percent. So that is an extraordinarily dangerous thing to do.

And the arguments you’re making have been influential in this region to the point that if you go up slightly even further in the Pacific Northwest into Canada and British Columbia, they’ve gone so far to say it’s the government’s job to supply these drugs because prohibition makes things more dangerous, so we have a positive obligation to do this. But the problem with that reasoning is we did flood communities with legally made, consistent quality, clearly labeled opioids for years. And the net effect was millions of people getting addicted and hundreds of thousands of people dying.

That’s, in fact, how we got here. I think everyone knows what OxyContin is, all the other opioids that were really pushed out there. So it’s just really hard to sustain that argument that at a population level, huge access to addictive drugs is not going to cause a lot of addiction and overdose as long as they’re clearly labeled and of consistent quality. If that were true, we would never had an opioid crisis.

So Measure 110 passes in 2020. It goes into effect in 2021. What happens to it in 2023?

At that point, overdoses were way up. And popular sentiment has shifted pretty dramatically. I think quite a few people felt burned. They hadn’t gotten what they’d been promised. And that included people who, for example, had relatives who were addicted who they assume would be getting into treatment and recovery and then weren’t able to get services.

Neighborhoods are decaying. Polling showed that about two thirds of the Oregon population wanted Measure 110 repealed in part or in whole. And interestingly, those sentiments were even stronger among Black and Hispanic Oregon residents.

In response to all this, both Houses by very large margins replaced Measure 110 with a different approach to drug policy. It restored the ability to impose criminal penalties, to use those penalties particularly to leverage people to change their behavior — for example, by restoring drug courts and other kinds of diversion and monitoring programs. It is definitely not correct to say they reinstated the war on drugs because, it has to be remembered, Oregon never really had a war on drugs policy. They were the first state in the nation to decriminalize marijuana over 50 years ago, in fact. They decriminalized marijuana. They had a very low rate of putting nonviolent criminals into prisons.

So it was more a restoration of that progressive, liberty loving approach that they’d had before but supplemented with a lot more funding for treatment, which is something they’ve had a lot of problems standing up for years, which had nothing to do with Measure 110. The treatment system was in very bad shape before Measure 110. And it still is.

If you’ve been around drug policy conversations for a long time, you’ll have heard a lot, I have heard a lot, about Portugal. And Portugal is a place where they decriminalized drugs. And it has been a much more sustainable, solid policy. So what is different about Portugal?

Portugal is different in policy and different in culture. So they definitely don’t throw people in prison, and it’s decriminalized. But they do have what are called dissuasion commissions that do assessments of people, say, who arrested in the street for using drugs. And you have to show up to this assessment. And they can push and nudge people to seek care.

And they can also apply penalties if they want to. They can say, you’re a cab driver. You’ve been caught using cocaine. And we’re going to take your cab license away until you seek treatment and stop using cocaine. Things like that. It is not a war on drugs approach, but it is a push in the policy. And that has never been taken on seriously by American advocates who cite Portugal.

Portugal also has a universal health care. We do not have that. We are the only developed Western country that doesn’t have that. So that makes it easier to get help irrespective of what the laws are. And Portugal had at least at the time of their decriminalization a very nice network of treatment services and harm reduction services for people. And all that together worked in the policy mix.

The other point is the culture of Portugal is much more family oriented. It’s much more communitarian than American general and certainly much more true than our freedom loving Libertarian Pacific Coast. If you spend time in Lisbon, you have a common experience of running into people and say, where are you born? And they’ll say, well, Lisbon. And where were your parents born? Lisbon. And they still live in my neighborhood. And my grandparents live in my neighborhood, too. You never hear this in San Francisco or Portland. Everybody is from somewhere else. And many people actually moved to the West to get away from everybody else, to get away from social constraints. I want to be my own person. Well, Portugal is the opposite of that.

So there’s a lot of constraint on behavior. It’s loving constraint, but it is constraint, those boundaries around people’s behavior that don’t exist out in the West with the exception of recent immigrant communities, which, by the way, have very low rates of drug problems.

This is something that I always think people underestimate at least about San Francisco, which is one of these cities under the best, which is that it is a culture of enormous tolerance. And that is a lot of what makes San Francisco remarkable, what has made it a home for L.G.B.T.Q. people when that was a very rare thing to be, what has made it open to all these weird ideas from computer scientists and strange nerds who came around with their thoughts about AI and their thoughts about visual operating systems.

And people don’t like necessarily the dark side of this open, tolerant, nonjudgmental way of looking at the world. There’s a bit of a divided soul, a difficulty judging, a discomfort with paternalism, and a kind of optimism that if you let subcultures have their freedom and grapple their way forward, they’ll find their way to an equilibrium and that we should be very, very, very skeptical of heavy handed particularly law enforcement as a way of changing culture.

That is a very nice description of the city we both love. And we’d be much poorer without San Francisco’s embrace of individual freedom and all the great things that it gives, which you just articulated. To me, the resolution here is taking addiction seriously as a problem.

So if you look at somebody who is using methamphetamine five times a day, you could say, well, that is really an expression of their individual freedom. I need to respect that. But if you recognize the likelihood that they are not particularly free because they are addicted, the inconsistency disappears. And so I feel personally no contradiction between saying the state should intervene with pressure — for example, mandating people into treatment. For me, that doesn’t conflict with individual freedom at all. So when I talked to somebody who said, look, you need to just let people do what they want, I say, look. I volunteer in the Tenderloin. And I carry naloxone, the overdose rescue medication, with me. If someone were in front of me in overdose and dying, should I administer naloxone even though the person can’t consent, they’re unconscious?

And I’ve never had anyone say, you’re right. You should just respect their right to die. They say, well, no, of course, you should do that, conceding the principle that there are times that the thing we can do the most to help other people is take care of them when they were not in a fit state to take care of themselves.

Is that a straw man, though? I can’t really think of people at least that I have heard arguing that somebody under the throes of heroin addiction is free and is choosing the life they live, that they’re likely to be happy with the world they now exist in.

One of the really striking things about this new rhetoric about drug policy out here is how rarely addiction is even mentioned. The fact that there’s so much focus on drug overdose, which is, of course, terrible, but that is treated as the only index and not addiction reflects a viewpoint that that’s not either an important thing or not that real a thing. Because if it were, you would note that in the heyday of wild opioid prescribing, there were fewer overdoses, but there were far more people who were addicted to those substances. And that made their lives dramatically worse.

I also see the lack of attention to addiction in the investment in harm reduction without the idea of using it as a springboard into treatment, which to me is a very novel idea that’s only become more powerful in the last couple of years where people feel like that in itself is the goal versus trying to eliminate addiction and get somebody into recovery.

So this is complicated, I think, because there’s this interaction in this period between what you might call elite and mass drug culture. In this period, you have the rise of a lot of super popular podcasters like Joe Rogan and Tim Ferriss, who are very open about their psychedelic use. You have Michael Pollan’s great book on psychedelics, “How to Change Your Mind.” I do a bunch of podcasts about psychedelics. You have a book by Carl Hart, who’s a well-known drug researcher at Columbia, called “Drug Use for Grownups” where he talks openly about using heroin to relax at the end of the day. Ketamine use rises in a very public way.

And so you have this change in drug culture among elites. It becomes much more acceptable to talk about how you use drugs to improve your life that I think also makes it look hypocritical to have a punitive approach not just legally but culturally towards other kinds of drug use. Do you think there’s something to that?

Yeah. I’ve seen that very much, too. And people with a platform, they’ve got a hearing. One of the most important things to understand about Measure 110, for example, is it passed easily. It was not that controversial as people thought it would be. And that elite change, I think, was part of the dynamic.

And definitely, you could see that in psychedelics in Oregon, which, as you know, has set up an entire system to administer psychedelics as a healing force. At least that’s the theory. These are transformative medicines often, by the way, in advance of evidence. But put that aside for a minute. And that is a remarkable change.

I think the criticism you could make of people who are well off and well resourced and have a lot of social capital and have access to treatment and health care whenever they need it is that they could be overgeneralizing what it’s like to use drugs in that situation versus the situation most people find themselves in with a lot less resources and a lot fewer things to catch them if they develop a problem. Now, some would say, well, the real problem is the law, and it’s the punishment you get and all that. And that can absolutely ruin people’s lives. There’s no question to that.

But there’s also quite a few people whose lives are ruined by drugs, including cannabis. There’s some people whose lives have been ruined by psychedelics and certainly people’s lives ruined by cocaine and fentanyl and so on. You don’t think about that much maybe when you are in a really comfy, well-resourced environment. But the average person who lives in a more typical environment does think about it, does have to worry about it. And that gives them a different understanding of what drugs are, how risky they are, and what they want their government to do about them.

That all makes sense to me. But something else I would say was here was that I would have described the consensus for a very long time as drug use is bad, and policing is good. And to some degree, by the time of 110 and some other reforms we were seeing in other states, I think that there was — and you can tell me if this tracks for you — a belief that drug use is somewhere between neutral and good depending on the drug, and policing is bad.

Yeah. There’s no way to separate what happened in Oregon from the murder of George Floyd and from Black Lives Matter. I mean, the protests against police were as intense in Oregon as anywhere they were in the United States and indeed throughout the region and a lot of concern — and it’s got to be said — a lot of justifiable concern about racism and policing. And a huge portion of that was focused on drug enforcement. And that flip was clearly part of why the bill passed.

In terms of drug use, I think there’s a split. I mean, so there are people who accept it’s a health matter. So let’s move to that part of the population, some of whom will say, it’s not a good idea, but we should add health services, and I certainly wouldn’t punish anybody for it, to people would say, no, it is good. In fact, it is actively good. Drug use is good. Drug use should be accepted and maybe even promoted or celebrated. And the debate has been, I think, between those two strands, whereas in the ‘80s, it was more between “drugs are bad — period” and “they should be legal even if they’re good or bad.”

You’ve written about billboards that I used to see and always thought were somewhat strange around fentanyl use and showing happy people — and these were in San Francisco — showing happy people and suggesting if you’re going to use this stuff, use it with friends. Use it around others. Make sure you’re not doing it alone.

One way of looking at them was as a destigmatization of this. It’s totally fine. Just be safe. And another way of looking at it was a total last gasp, but we don’t know what to do. We’re going to try this approach to everything else is failing. Maybe if we completely turn around our approach and just try to change the social dynamics in which people use, that might have an effect on the margin.

So several things there you’re saying, I think they’re important. One is, absolutely. In the face of all this death and all this suffering, we’re all desperate for solutions. And I think it is good that we are thinking in very fundamental ways about what the solutions are. That should be the case when you have this much suffering.

I think it is not irrelevant that these changes have unfolded during a pandemic where, let’s face it, we all went a little crazy. It was very stressful. It was emotional. Many policy debates took on a very personal cast. And we did rock between different extremes in our politics.

With the billboards — and just to describe these billboards, what to me is interesting about them is that the public health department signed off on these. And if they had been promoting beer, they would’ve been outraged by them because they would’ve said, well, you’re making it look like this is something young, attractive, successful people do. And it’s a lot of fun. And you’re understanding all the risk. And you’re going to be tempting kids. You’re basically giving people really bad information. But it wasn’t alcohol. It was fentanyl.

And so I guess they felt it was reasonable on the idea that this will destigmatize. And then people will be comfortable talking about it and using fentanyl together. And they would show people in the apartment having a nice party. Then they could take care of each other in the event of an overdose. It would be a social event, and then you could be there. To me, it’s an extraordinary chain of reasoning. But that’s where San Francisco got in 2021.

I lived in San Francisco during this period. It also had a highly liberalizing attitude on drugs. It had significant open air drug markets, particularly in the Tenderloin.

But what I always saw as the core thing that was infuriating people because I lived in places like D.C. that had a much higher murder rate but where crime was much less of an angry political issue was a feeling that the government was tolerating disorder, that it wasn’t fighting it and failing or fighting it and failing to triumph over what’s a very hard problem, but that the government was allowing it, that they were allowing these open air drug markets, that they were allowing people to shoot up on the street, and that it turned out the politics of permitting disorder were really, really, really bad.

Yes, they are. And I volunteer in the Tenderloin. So I’ve spent a lot of time in those neighborhoods and definitely pick up that sense. And, say, for a number of people would express it in an even harsher way, which is the government is tolerating it where I live in a way they would never tolerate it in a wealthier neighborhood. That could be coupled also with a sense of some of those people in the wealthier neighborhoods say this should be tolerated, but they’re not having to tolerate it. I am. And that generates understandable anger.

And this has had an interesting racial dimension in my observation of it is that a lot of this tolerance has been pushed in the name of racial justice often by white college educated progressives but is unpopular with many, many people of color who live in low income neighborhoods because they’re paying the cost of it while it’s being advocated for for people who they don’t even know who live in neighborhoods that don’t have these kinds of problems.

I was reading recently a lawsuit filed by residents of the Tenderloin against San Francisco. And it was saying in a way that is illegal and unconstitutional, it was alleging that San Francisco — and everybody knows this to be true — was not enforcing laws in the Tenderloin the way it was in other parts of the city, that it had settled on a containment strategy in the Tenderloin. And the Tenderloin is really rough for people who have not walked around there. I mean, the disorder, the despair, the difficulty’s incredibly visible. And one of the things that was noted in the lawsuit was that the Tenderloin has a much higher ratio of children than most parts of San Francisco. It has a lot of immigrant families, a lot of poor families. And so this is being tolerated where really a lot of kids were.

And the argument was that this was not allowed where richer people lived in San Francisco, and it was where these poorer people lived. And even knowing that, it was striking to see it laid out and to see these experiences of people who were living amidst it laid out and their fury that containment was being done on their backs.

Why are there hundreds of dealers standing on street corners in the Tenderloin and in the south of Market? They are not there to service the neighborhood. Because if you live in a neighborhood and your dealer lives in the neighborhood, your dealer doesn’t have to stand on a corner. You know each other. You can text. You can just stop by and make your transactions.

Open air markets are there to service strangers. They’re so that buyers and sellers can find each other really fast. And in an open air market, it’s serving people who don’t live in the neighborhood. There’s no reason there’d be that many dealers. The Tenderloin doesn’t need that many dealers to pay for its own drug use.

So it’s a legitimate gripe if you live in a neighborhood and you’re trying to raise a family in a neighborhood that is taken over by an open air market to say, we’re taking all the harms of all the drug use of the other neighborhoods where they don’t allow open air dealing. But people know they can just drive from there to here pick up their drugs and then go off about their way. And that’s unfair. And so I sympathize with the residents of the Tenderloin who are raising that very legitimate gripe about not getting equal protection under the law.

One question I’ve had about all this is how much of it is a set of policies that might’ve worked or certainly worked better than they did, but fentanyl rolled a grenade underneath this? I mean, a lot of this thinking was happening years before fentanyl just completely invaded America.

The emergence and dominance of powerful synthetic drugs like fentanyl among the opioids or super strong methamphetamine that is now a larger share of the market than cocaine has, I think, undermined basic assumptions about drug policy across the world. When a kind of person who might come into, say, a methadone clinic addicted to heroin, their heroin use might be once a day or maybe twice a day, including people who were holding jobs, people who still were in touch with their families. Not that life was going well, but there was some level of manageability. We now have people with fentanyl using 10, 20, 30 times a day. Their entire existence is — because fentanyl has a very short cycle of action.

So you wake up. You’re in withdrawal. Withdrawal is incredibly unpleasant. You may smoke fentanyl, smoke, smoke, smoke. Maybe it takes 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes. Your withdrawal finally stops. You smoke some more till you get high. You fall asleep. You wake up, and you’re in withdrawal. And you’re just really stuck like that.

And I see people like that. I mean, I’m very optimistic about the potential of recovery for addiction. Those are what I’ve seen. And those are also my values. I try to approach everybody that way.

And I also sometimes am frightened that it’s just much, much harder to help people in this state when their life is that consumed by drugs even relative to how consumed their lives were by drugs like heroin and OxyContin. It’s really pretty frightening. And we are getting it first. The United States and Canada too are being exposed to these drugs.

It’s interesting to note in Europe, they’re just starting to get these drugs. And whether they’ll keep with their same policy mix is a really interesting question. It isn’t entirely sure. I have a colleague who says fentanyl is like an antibiotic resistant infection. The stuff we always done that used to work doesn’t work anymore. And that’s terrifying.

How good now is our best gold standard addiction treatment?

So this varies a lot by drug. I’m going to start with the bad news first, which is the stimulants. So the biggest disappointment of my career is about cocaine and methamphetamine. I started my career in the late 1980s. And the care that people got for those drugs then is almost the same as what they get now. There’s been very little progress.

Billions have been spent. Brilliant people have tried to develop, for example, pharmacological treatments for them. Nothing has panned out yet. Most of the behavioral treatments don’t work. We have one thing that seems to work, which is contingency management, a particular way of structuring and giving rewards to help people make changes in their behavior. But we’ve had that for a very long time. So the news there is kind of disappointing.

For alcohol, funnily enough, one of the best things we have has been around forever, which is Alcoholics Anonymous. And for a long time, people in my field looked down on it as too folky and not medical enough. And yet there’s now tremendous evidence that myself and some colleagues assembled in what’s called a Cochrane Collaboration showing that does work, that people do, in fact, as well or better in Alcoholics Anonymous as they do coming to see people like myself.

There’s also some medications available. Acamprosate is one. Naltrexone is another. Some people benefit from those.

On the opioids, we have multiple approved FDA medications. Methadone has been around a very long time. It’s a substitute medication. It is effective for many people. Buprenorphine is another substitute medication, slightly different pharmacologically, but also effective for a great many people. And we have naltrexone, which is it works differently. It’s a blocking agent. And there are people who do very well on that.

So those things are all good. That’s considered the front line. You offer people medication first. And people also can benefit from other kinds of things — therapies and from residential care. And if somebody is out on the street with an addiction, it’s not believable that they are going to check in once a week for an hour with a therapist because their lives aren’t that organized. They usually need a safe substance free environment in which to stay. And those are often in short supply. So we sometimes don’t have success there not because we don’t know what to do, but because we haven’t allocated the resources to do it.

But how good are any of these? I mean, let’s zoom in on alcohol for a minute. I’ve known a lot of people — people I’ve loved — who have had very severe alcohol addictions. And you can’t be near that and not realize how differently different drugs act on different people. If I am drinking, just at some point, my body is like, that’s good. We’re done.

And there are people I know who they have burnt their life down around them. And they’ve been in and out of residential treatment. They’ve gone to A.A. Some people recover. Often they really don’t. How likely is it if you go into A.A. or some of these other things that you’ll recover?

People who seek for alcohol treatment or Alcoholics Anonymous can fall into three bins. If you look at them about 6 or 12 months later, somewhere between 40 percent, 50 percent are dramatically better off. Their lives are dramatically better. And that could be the completely abstinent, or they’re much more abstinent, but their lives are dramatically better.

Then there’s another group of people who seem to be somewhat better. That might be 20 percent, 25 percent. They’re still having significant problems. But maybe they make some things like, at least I’m not drinking and driving at the same time, or at least my spouse and I are making some progress in our marital communication. And then the remaining people unfortunately look exactly the same as the day they came into treatment. They either made no progress, or they made some slight progress and then relapsed.

The perception that we have of it tends to be driven by that last group. That’s because when people get better, they disappear into the woodwork. So when I worked in the White House, I used to think when I walked by somebody getting out of the metro who’s actively using drugs or alcohol, I’m very aware. That’s so visible to me.

And yet I know every day people walk by me in suits or in recovery, and I don’t notice them at all. Just looks like another Washington lawyer or civil servant or politician. So the cognitive effects of people who are doing the worst or the most vivid give us, I think, a more despairing view than we ought to have.

How much is the risk of developing an addiction genetic?

Genes affect us a lot. Studies across addictions show a genetic contribution. It varies by the substance, but at least 30 percent, sometimes even 50 percent. How much control people have just in general — some people are more impulsive than others, have a harder time thinking about the future than others from their first day on this Earth. And that will increase your risk for addiction.

If you’re very, very risk averse person who thinks a lot about the future, drug use looks differently to you than if you’re someone who wants to feel good today and is a happy go lucky person. Some of why we get addicted has to do with things that nobody can really control. And those can be things like liking. Even for the first time we use them, we like drugs differently.

When my boys were little, they were in the backyard, and they were climbing a tree. And I said, ah, that’s not how to climb a tree. I’ll show you how to climb a tree. So when I got to the emergency room, I said, this bone is broken. And I know it because I can see the way it’s knocked off my wrist.

And they nicely patched it for me. And they sent me home with Vicodin, the opioid Vicodin, bottle of 30, and said, it’s going to hurt. So you’re going to want to take these.

I take one. And I feel terrible. Stomach all feels bound up. I feel just really groggy. I don’t like this. For me, it was very easy to say pain is better than taking even one more of these pills. Meanwhile, I’ve treated people who say, the first time I had an opioid, it was like a hole that had been in my heart my whole life filled up for the first time.

Now, both those experiences are real. You cannot attribute them to, well, Keith must be a real solid and moral person, and that’s an immoral person, or Keith must have made good choices, and that person made bad choices, because we had no learning history at all. It was just the kismet of genetics that drugs feel differently to different people from the very first time, not just learning history.

And so I find it very easy to be sympathetic to someone who’s addicted to opioids because I think the reason I’m not going to do that is not because I’m a better person. It’s because they just don’t feel good to me. And to you, they felt fantastic. And so you were willing to keep on using them.

It’s not just that I find it easy to be sympathetic. But I find it hard to know how to think about it because, to be blunt, I’ve had very positive personal experiences with certain drugs. And at the same time, I’m somebody who is extremely nonaddictive in this area of my life. I have never wanted more puffs on a cigarette than I had. I’ve never smoked a cigarette and been like, I need another one. Obviously, other people I knew when I was in college, that was not how that went for them.

There is something here where, on the one hand, I worry that a fair amount of the discourse around drugs comes from people for whom maybe it actually is positive for them. There are people who have real positive relationships with different kinds of substances both legal and illegal. Adderall can be amazing for somebody with A.D.H.D., and it can be very destructive for somebody who ends up using it recreationally. I mean, you were talking about methamphetamines. And it’s not all that different.

And it becomes, I think, almost philosophically hard to know how to think about these substances that really can range. How to think about something where for some people it can be a very good part of their life, either pleasurable or even very profound. For other people, it can be a complete disaster that will actually ruin their life. And who are you making policy for and how feels like something that this conversation gets caught on a lot.

I agree, yeah, because drugs aren’t good, and drugs aren’t bad. They are good and bad. And sometimes I envy colleagues who work in areas like cholera prevention. If there’s a cholera outbreak, and you get rid of it, you’re a hero. Everybody loves you. Nobody says, but I was having a party. I need a little cholera. Can’t you keep a little cholera for special occasions? It’s like, no, everyone just hates cholera. Drugs are absolutely not like that. People have great experiences with drugs. I drink wine, by the way. That’s a drug. Or ethanol is a drug.

So we can’t resolve it that simply. And so we have to get into these questions of, well, when is it good? And when is it bad? And for whom is it good? And for whom is it bad?

And then there’s a question that is to me a philosophical question, in fact, religions grapple with, which is should I give something up for the benefit of others? Perhaps I can use fentanyl freely and enjoy it. But should I still say it shouldn’t be in recreational market because I’m aware enough of my fellow people would find it life ruining? And so the moral thing is for me to give it up so the sense that all of us can live together in a spirit of common humanity. And there’s always going to be tougher discussions, things that are good and bad versus things that are just clearly good, and we should just embrace them, and clearly bad and just reject them.

I wonder about this with the rollout of legal cannabis across a lot of the country. So this is something that I occasionally take. I’ll sometimes have a 5 milligram edible to help me sleep or to relax at the end of the night. It isn’t something I want all that often. And when I go into these stores, and I look in them, and I see the way they’re popping up in New York the way they popped up in California, it’s pretty clear this market is not catering to me.

And I think a lot about something that, as you mentioned, our mutual late friend Mark Kleiman, who was one of the great drug researchers and crime researchers, used to say to me, which is that alcohol companies do not make their money on people who drink a beer or two a week. They make their money on people who drink a case. And when I go into these stores, what I see are the rise of super high potency products that I wouldn’t touch. And clearly the money is being made given how many of the stores there are on people taking a lot more than I am a lot more often. When you look at what is going on with legal cannabis, how do you feel about it?

So start at the question of should we ever throw people in a cell for cannabis? Oh, so that was a terrible idea. So let’s take that off the table and just say if we’re going to have a legal industry, have we regulated it well? And I think it’s absolutely clear we have not.

And this is something we’re generally I’d say bad at relative to other countries of constraining profit when the profit damages public health. And so we have an industry with hardly any constraints on their products, not a very good record with even labeling their products accurately, very poor enforcement of even keeping the legal regime in place. And the pot shops in New York are a good example of that. A huge number of them are unlicensed and just doing whatever they want. And they’re being allowed to do that.

So I think we’ve done a really bad job with cannabis and in part driven by this phenomenon of not being willing to admit that cannabis isn’t good or bad, but it is both. And so when Mark Kleiman and I worked with Washington state, who was one of the first states to legalize, and we said, you still need to have some enforcement to make a licensing system work, I remember people literally either laughing or getting angry at us saying, the war on drugs is over. No more enforcement ever.

It’s like, actually, no. Why would you have a license and do the right thing and not hire minors? And why would you be sure to card? And why would you sell clean and safe products when you do that because you get a market advantage in a licensed market? And so if we just allow anybody to do anything, well, then there’s really no point in getting licensed, no point in paying your taxes, no point in being a good citizen, no point in not in hawking dangerous products.

And that’s the situation that we have. And we’re going to be really sorry for it. The distribution of consumption is also really important to think about. It’s not quite half, but it’s certainly a plurality of cannabis users today are using it every single day, usually a high strength product.

Wow, really? Almost half?

Yeah. I’d say about 40 percent are daily or near daily users. And so that’s where the money is if you’re running an industry. And so you want to produce cheap high-strength product that that population will use and use and use and use. And I just think we’re really going to regret that.

My friends over at “Search Engine,” which is a great podcast, just did this two part series on the New York cannabis market. And I had not really understood that while New York is now completely full of what appeared to me to be legal cannabis stores, virtually none of them are legal cannabis stores. There’s a very small number of legal ones and then a huge number of illegal ones.

And you might say, well, how are there all these illegal stores? And the answer is that nobody wants to send the police to bust people for cannabis. And so much of the theory of legalization as I understood it for years was that we will legalize and then be able to regulate the market. But if what we’ve done is legalized, but we’re not willing to use law enforcement, and so we cannot regulate the market, that’s actually a dramatically different policy equilibrium than I feel like I was promised.

Yeah, the experience you’re having — I think people have had across a lot of drug policy — is expecting one thing and then getting another and underestimating the ideological commitments of the people who designed it. So there are people who say, we’re going to have this legal market, and we’ll get rid of the illegal sellers and all that. But that isn’t what necessarily they wanted. They just thought, look, this should not be restricted at all. And you should just be able to deal with it and sell it and have a classic Libertarian understanding of it as opposed to a more progressive understanding of what we expect from industries. And this problem is replicated all over the country.

There’s also something that’s happened in policing, which is there’s always more to do for police than they have to do. So they’re not super interested in getting involved. Even with some of the massive problems we have, for example, here in California, we have huge illicit groves, some of them staffed by people who have literally been human trafficked. But it hasn’t really risen up as an enforcement priority because, cannabis, we don’t do that anymore.

You said this about cannabis, and I found it really striking. Quote, “The newly legal industry looks a lot like the tobacco industry — an under-regulated, under-taxed, politically connected, white dominated corporate entity that generates its profits mainly by addicting lower income people to a drug. 85 percent of Colorado’s cannabis, for example, is consumed by people who did not graduate from college.” Can you say a bit more about that socioeconomic breakdown?

Yeah. So I think that in middle upper class society, that figure’s really shocking. And the idea is, oh, cannabis user is, oh, someone like you, someone who has a good job, went to college, and maybe uses occasionally. No. I say if you want to think of the typical user, think of somebody who works in a gas station who gets high on all their breaks. That’s much more the sociodemographic breakdown of it.

And by the way, that’s what you see with tobacco as well. In my professional middle class life, it is so rare for me to see somebody smoking a cigarette. But if you go into a poor neighborhood, there’s still a lot of people who smoke cigarettes.

And so we’ve won the war on smoking I guess, middle class and well off. But it’s far less the case as you move into people who have much more challenging lives. And this comes back to the point that you raised and I think is really important one is that since that professional class makes the policies, it’s really important for them to remember that their lives are different than the people whose lives will be most profoundly affected by those policies.

One thing that a lot of drugs, cannabis being one of them, do is allow you to escape from a life that doesn’t feel good to you. If I had a job that bored the hell out of me, it might be more appealing to use something like cannabis more often. I really like my job. And I definitely cannot do it high, so I don’t. But there’s both a question of how does this affect you as a person but also how much might you want it, need it, need the escape?

I think this gets down to one of the most important questions to ask, which is, why don’t more people use drugs? People say, why does anybody use drugs? And it’s like, well, do you ask me why anybody has sex? That’s a really strange question. It feels good. We don’t need an explanation why people use them.

It’s actually far more interesting to think, why aren’t we all using them? Why aren’t you and I using drugs right now? And big reasons why are, well, we have other rewards in our lives. And we have a lot of other stuff that we want to do that is rewarding.

So in the absence of those things, the why not question, the answer seems to be, well, I can’t think of a reason why not. I might as well. Well, you won’t live as long. Well, I don’t expect to live that long. You won’t do well in your brilliant career. I don’t have a brilliant career. You won’t enjoy your fabulous house. I don’t have a fabulous house.

And that’s a reason I think it’s easy or it should be easy to have some sympathy. We all don’t have the same set of rewards to choose from. Rewards any neuroscientists would tell you are judged relative to each other. We don’t just make judgments over good, bad, but we do a lot of this is better than that. So as you pull rewards out of an environment, yeah, drugs become relatively more appealing.

It feels to me across this conversation that we’re talking about two eras that didn’t really work. I think a lot of people are worried about just a pendulum swinging between extremes. I’m curious if to you there is a synthesis out there either in a place or in a theory that feels like it balances these different realities, that people will use drugs? They are good for some people and terrible for others, that we don’t want to be throwing adults constantly into jail because they did something with their own bodies. We don’t want tons of people to get addicted because we decided not to throw anybody in jail. Is there something that feels to you like it strikes a balance here?

So years ago, when I worked for President Obama, we cited Washington’s example because they had taken a couple of hundred million dollars, spent it on mental health and substance use treatment, and showed within 12 months they’d actually made all their money back because of less crime, because of less disability, because of less trips to the emergency room. And importantly, they had gathered data to show that. And that was one of the things we used when the Affordable Care Act was being done to explain why covering substance use in that package would be a good deal for the taxpayer in addition to, of course, being a good deal to any person who had that problem.

There’s also certain issues where people with very different views and feelings about drugs can agree. So I’ve been working with a lot of people around the country on building Medicaid into the correctional system starting in California. It was pushed by a fabulous assembly member named Marie Waldron. We turn Medicaid on before people leave. And that gets them typically on some type of medication. And that can pull people together because it makes it far less likely for them to die of an overdose or to have other health problems. And it also makes them much less likely to commit crimes. And so you can get people like, well, I’m not very sympathetic. I don’t want to spend money on the health of some drug user. But if it makes them less likely to commit more crime, I like that. And other people say, well, this is a health matter. It’s like, well, then they like it too.

And that approach, which now multiple states have been approved for and the Biden administration C.M.S. has said, you can all have this Medicaid waiver — I don’t know the current number. I think it’s about 14 or 15 other states are applying. And as an example of something where you don’t necessarily have to resolve all the disagreements, but you can find a policy that maximizes multiple outcomes that a broad section of people care about.

Something I’ve seen you talk about and write about is this idea that the way that policing should work here is it should be very, very predictable, very certain you will get picked up, and very modest. It’s sort of almost like it operates as a constant annoyance. You end up in jail for 24 hours and are let loose. And there was some evidence that definitely did decrease repeat offending not among everybody but among enough people to really matter in the study. Do you still think that’s a good idea?

Absolutely. It’s a good principle for enforcement and for deterrence to have it be predictable, responsive, and fair. There’s been a lot of success with drink driving and alcohol through the program 24/7 Sobriety, which started in South Dakota and has now spread to about 15, 20 states and is also now in other countries.

It’s all across England, all across Wales where I was just last week actually working on that, which is a model whereby people are sentenced after their second, third, fourth, fifth alcohol related arrest to not be allowed to drink. They aren’t sent to jail. They aren’t fine. Their cars aren’t taken away. But their alcohol use is monitored literally every single day with swift and certain but modest consequences if they drink.

And that program has reduced incarceration. It has reduced crime. It has reduced domestic violence. And it strikes a good balance between using the criminal justice system to protect and put some constraints on people but not in a way that ends up being carceral.

And the place where we can really make a huge impact on that in the United States is the million people we’re already supervising on probation and parole who have substance use problems. And we need to roll those out more broadly. For example, Oregon’s new policy mix if implemented properly, which will be a challenge, I think it would be a very good one. They do put pressure on people to seek treatment. But they say literally, no one is going to be put into a prison in Oregon simply because they used a drug. And now they’re building up the other part you got to have, which is have to have the health system and the services that keep people alive while they use and then help them get into recovery. That, I think, is a very appealing mix of things.

We have a really hard time, I think, in the U.S. and lots of policy issues of realizing that it’s not a series of on/off switches. It’s a series of dials. And you can adjust things and find sensible, nuanced approaches that are more effective than what fits on a bumper sticker.

And I feel like that’s what my job is. And people like me who do not have to take the great risk to stand up and people and say, please vote for me. And then that means I have to explain something simply. It can’t be any other way but are next to it and are very fortunate to have the time to sift through evidence in a calm environment before they venture out with some suggestions about what we might do better.

I think that’s a good place to end. So then as a final question, what are three books you would recommend to the audience?

So there’s so many good books written about in this area. It’s hard to pick. So I decided to prioritize personal relationship starting with your late friend of mine Mark Kleiman, who wrote a book called “Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know,” coauthored with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken.

And it is exactly what the title promises. It’s accessible. It’s something you can dip into and out of and answer any question you want. And I also point to it as just a model of how academics in any area can write in such a fashion that a broad audience can engage their work and learn from it.

The second book I would suggest, again, from a friend who’s someone I’ve known since she was a psychiatric resident and I was an assistant professor. And that’s Dr. Anna Lembke here at Stanford. And the book is called “Dopamine Nation,” which was a deserved bestseller around the world.

But that gives you much more of the human experience describing, what is it like to be addicted, to not be able to stop doing something even though you know it’s destructive? How does it feel? How do you try to overcome it? And what is going on in that person neurologically that makes it so hard? And then the book also talks about just the seeking of reward in a reward saturated society and how we all are chasing all these things, whether it’s on our cell phones or with drugs and so on.

And then the last one — maybe a more eccentric choice, but it’s such a good book — is by Thomas De Quincey. And it’s called “Confessions of an English Opium Eater.” So De Quincey was a hangers on of the romantic poet set about 200 years ago in England. And he wrote at the time a very scandalous account. But, of course, also scandalous things in Britain are often very popular things.

So it became a bestseller about his experience of long time opium use. And he talks about the pains of opium and the pleasures of opium and a bit about how it affects social relationships, how it affects human psychology. And what I like about is, first off, it has a wonderfully florid over the top poetic style. And the other thing is almost everything you and I have talked about today is touched on in that book. And that shows that while we do learn things and we go forward with science, with policy, it is also true that the human relationship with drugs has had the same benefits and challenges in it for time immemorial. And so that’s a reminder of that when you read a book written that long ago and can resonate with so much of what’s going on today.

Keith Humphreys, thank you very much.

This episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” was produced by Annie Galvin. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris, with Kate Sinclair and Mary Marge Locker. Our senior engineer is Jeff Geld, with additional mixing by Aman Sahota. Our senior editor is Claire Gordon.

The show’s production team also includes Rollin Hu and Kristin Lin. Original music by Isaac Jones. Audience strategy by Kristina Samulewski and Shannon Busta. The executive producer of New York Times Opinion Audio is Annie-Rose Strasser. Special thanks to Sonia Herrero.

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Drug policy feels very unsettled right now. The war on drugs was a failure. But so far, the war on the war on drugs hasn’t entirely been a success, either.

Take Oregon. In 2020, it became the first state in the nation to decriminalize hard drugs. It was a paradigm shift — treating drug-users as patients rather than criminals — and advocates hoped it would be a model for the nation. But then there was a surge in overdoses and public backlash over open-air drug use. And last month, Oregon’s governor signed a law restoring criminal penalties for drug possession, ending that short-lived experiment.

Other states and cities have also tipped toward backlash. And there are a lot of concerns about how cannabis legalization and commercialization is working out around the country. So what did the supporters of these measures fail to foresee? And where do we go from here?

[You can listen to this episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” on the NYT Audio App , Apple , Spotify , Amazon Music , YouTube or wherever you get your podcasts .]

Keith Humphreys is a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University who specializes in addiction and its treatment. He also served as a senior policy adviser in the Obama administration. I asked him to walk me through why Oregon’s policy didn’t work out; what policymakers sometimes misunderstand about addiction; the gap between “elite” drug cultures and how drugs are actually consumed by most people; and what better drug policies might look like.

You can listen to our whole conversation by following “The Ezra Klein Show” on the NYT Audio App , Apple , Spotify , Google or wherever you get your podcasts . View a list of book recommendations from our guests here .

(A full transcript of this episode is available here .)

A portrait of Keith Humphreys

This episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” was produced by Annie Galvin. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris, with Kate Sinclair and Mary Marge Locker. Our senior engineer is Jeff Geld, with additional mixing by Aman Sahota and Efim Shapiro. Our senior editor is Claire Gordon. The show’s production team also includes Rollin Hu and Kristin Lin. Original music by Isaac Jones. Audience strategy by Kristina Samulewski and Shannon Busta. The executive producer of New York Times Opinion Audio is Annie-Rose Strasser. Special thanks to Sonia Herrero.

Follow the New York Times Opinion section on Facebook , Instagram , TikTok , WhatsApp , X and Threads .

Kelly E Green PhD, LP

We Need to Stop Trying to Raise “Drug-Free” Kids

The important shift away from abstinence to addiction resistance..

Posted May 13, 2024 | Reviewed by Michelle Quirk

  • What Is Addiction?
  • Find a therapist to overcome addiction
  • Kids and teens lack basic knowledge about what alcohol and drugs actually do in their brains and bodies.
  • School-based alcohol and drug education programs are incomplete, and there is an important role for parents.
  • Addiction resistance is a more realistic goal than abstinence.

Source: Luis Pacheco / Pixabay

“Beer then liquor, never sicker… Liquor then beer, never fear .” This was a common refrain when I was a Gen X teenager. Besides “Don’t drink and drive,” this was the extent of how I was taught to drink responsibly. Like most kids, most of my knowledge about alcohol and drugs didn’t come from my parents or my school’s alcohol and drug education programs.

Now I am a clinical psychologist, professor of psychology, and mother to three young kids who have a genetic vulnerability to addiction . I’ve spent the past 20 years studying addiction and providing evidence-based addiction treatment. I’ve helped thousands of people better understand the risk and protective factors that influence why one person develops addiction when another doesn’t. I’ve heard countless “If only I had...” stories from parents, students, and people in addiction recovery.

Problems With School Alcohol/Drug Prevention Programs

Each semester that I taught college courses on addiction, I was dismayed by students' lack of basic knowledge about what psychoactive substances actually do in their brains and bodies. They shared their personal experiences with “alcohol/drug education” programs they encountered in their school settings, and these accounts typically share a common refrain—these “prevention” initiatives become jokes, trigger rebellious substance use, or have little to no impact on their substance use decisions.

At worst, prevention programs create shame for people struggling with their substance use and actually impede help-seeking by shutting down communication with adults. Abstinence-only and anti-drug programs cause people to internalize stigmatizing messages like “Users Are Losers,” “Just Say No” (like it’s just that simple and easy for everyone), and “Good Kids Don’t Get High.” Yet they also recognize the disparity between the way that alcohol is discussed compared to other drugs, and that inconsistency leads to confusion.

To receive federal funding, schools must check a box on the annual paperwork stating they deliver alcohol/drug education programming to their students. But there is no metric for what that education includes. So, many schools are able to check that box (and retain their funding) with “Red Ribbon Week” activities like “On Wednesday, wear neon to show you’re too bright for drugs!”

When we talk about addiction prevention, we typically focus on school-based curricula. But that misses two key elements that are critical for helping kids develop the resilience and protective factors they need to combat addiction and other mental health struggles—school policies and parent training. At home, many parents assume their kids are either too young to talk about alcohol and drugs or that the school will provide the essential knowledge their kids need to be “drug-free.”

My parenting tactics are different, and definitely the minority (for now). My 9-year-old knows how to recognize the signs of alcohol intoxication and knows that drugs like methamphetamine can alter one’s perception of reality. I am purposely raising my kids to know that it’s not the substance (alcohol or drugs) that is the problem, but that other factors make some people more vulnerable to substance use becoming dysfunctional. My kids will all know at a young age that since genetic predisposition accounts for 50 percent of the chance of developing addiction, they are 10 times more likely to develop addiction than their friends without a family history of addiction.

Building Addiction Resistance

Why does my 9-year-old know more about the risk factors for addiction than most college students? Because I’m not trying to raise “drug-free” kids . As a clinical psychologist specializing in evidence-based addiction treatment, I’m trying to raise addiction-resistant kids. I fully accept the likelihood that they will use alcohol or other drugs at some point. Instead of trying to scare them out of that choice or build shame and stigma around the addiction history in our family, I am choosing to provide them with the essential knowledge and skills they need to make informed decisions about substance use. Building their addiction resistance gives them the best chance to navigate the hellscape of adolescence with healthy coping skills instead of turning to alcohol and drugs to self-medicate, tolerate distressing thoughts or feelings, or foster a sense of belonging with their peers.

My approach definitely isn’t popular (yet), but I am developing the Raising Resilient and Addiction-Resistant Kids program to provide a viable alternative to abstinence-only messaging. Many parents have trouble stepping outside of the narrative that trained them to think that providing honest education about alcohol and drugs somehow condones their use and leads to a higher risk of addiction, but many others are ready for a different approach.

essay topics on drugs

In a feel-good-all-the-time society like the United States, how can we expect kids and teens to make informed choices about alcohol and drugs if we don’t provide them with the foundational knowledge and skills they need to do so? How can we tell them to “Just Say No" when that message is overly simplistic and fuels stigma against substance users that perpetuates innumerable social injustices in the pursuit of “drug-free communities”?

The “Users Are Losers” message shuts down communication lines between students and educators, and children and parents. We’ve made so much progress destigmatizing mental health struggles like depression , anxiety , autism , and posttraumatic stress disorder, yet we continue to perpetuate the Us vs. Them mentality when it comes to substance use and addiction. Where does that leave kids whose risk factors for addiction outweigh their protective factors?

If we truly want to reduce addiction… If we truly want to reduce drug overdose deaths… If we truly want to “save our kids” from drugs, then we need to stop trying to raise “drug-free” kids and focus on raising addiction-resistant kids instead.

Kelly E. Green / Grind Wellness, LLC

Copyright 2024 Kelly E. Green and Grind Wellness, LLC

Kelly E Green PhD, LP

Kelly E. Green, Ph.D. , is a psychologist specializing in evidence-based addiction treatment, the author of Relationships in Recovery , and an Associate Professor of Psychology at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas.

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