Drug Abuse and Deviant Behavior

Drug Abuse and Deviant Behavior, Causes, Effects, Consequences, & Therapy Options

Deviant Behavior

Deviant behavior refers to behavior that does not conform to norms and does not meet the expectations of a group or a society as a whole. After birth, children begin to experience situations with others. They are taught what he or they should and should not do, what is good or bad, and what is right or wrong. Learning habits that conform to the customs and traditions of the groups into which the child is born to develop a system of values. These values provide justification and motivation for wanting to refrain from disapproved behavior.

All human societies have used drugs throughout history, but it hasn’t been until recently considered deviant behavior. Drug use was seen only as a personal problem, but today’s societies generally condemn drug use. There are many reasons for this perception of drug use in our society today. It’s stated that “since a social process creates standards for deviance, consumption of a particular drug becomes deviant only when individuals and groups define it a such”.

The stereotype of someone with an addiction is a social deviant. Deviance is a sociological concept referring to behaviors that violate social rules and norms. Behavior that is perceived as socially deviant is highly stigmatized, which often causes as many or more problems for the person engaging in the behavior than the addiction itself — if there even is an addiction.

Drug Abuse and Deviant Behavior
Some addictive behaviors are considered socially unacceptable, and therefore the person doing them can be considered a social deviant
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Addiction and Dependence

The World Health Organization (WHO) has preferred to use the term dependence which is defined as a psychic, sometimes a physical state resulting from the interaction between a living organism and a substance, characterized by behavioral modifications and other reactions which always comprise a need to repeat the consumption of the product in order to re-experience its psychic effects and sometimes avoid the discomfort of frustration. According to WHO [1], this state may be paralleled or not by tolerance, and the same individual might be dependent on several products.

Such a definition underlines the importance of the interaction between a user and the substance, which means that the drug is not to be considered a mere stimulus, encapsulating precise intoxicating effects, but that the person taking it is an important part of the process. Substances, however, are classified by WHO as a function of their intrinsic addictive characteristics, using a less useful distinction between physical and psychological dependence. The separation of mind from body in trying to understand drug use seems particularly irrelevant if one considers that drugs are psychoactive, mind-altering substances in constant interaction with bodily processes.

Theoretical difficulties with the term “addiction” do not mean that it does not exist. It is not a unitary construct but a multidimensional concept. It is nowadays recognized that addiction is not merely a chemical reaction but also an experience, most often one of physical or psychological pain relief. The shift from drug to a person is necessary to account for the variability of the effects of different drugs in different cultures and on different individuals. Hence, if physical dependence is not to be equated to psychological dependence, they cannot at the same time be considered separately. By the same token, substance use cannot be analyzed independently of a person’s cultural context and cognitive, emotional, and social functioning.

Causes of Deviant Behavior

Conflict theory suggests that deviant behaviors result from social, political, or material inequalities in a social group. Labeling theory argues that people become deviant as a result of people forcing that identity upon them and then adopting the identity.

Causes of deviance in society:

  • Broken Family and Improper Socialization
  • Lack of Religious Education and Morality
  • Rejection by Neighborhood
  • Lack of Basic Facilities
  • Parentless Child
  • Mass Media
  • Urban Slums
  •  Biological and psychological characteristics of the individual (genetic abnormalities, psychopathy, mental defects);

Biological Explanation

Recently, the biological explanation focuses on the anomalies of the sex chromosomes (XY) of the deviant. In accordance with the norm, a woman has two chromosomes of type X, while the presence of one chromosome of type X and one chromosome of type Y is significant for a man. But sometimes some people have additional chromosomes of types X or Y (XXY, XYY or, rarely, XXXY, XXYY, etc.). Based on the study of the behavior of male patients in a specialized psychiatric hospital in Scotland, Price and colleagues (1966, 1967) found that the presence of an additional chromosome of type Y was characteristic of men above-average growth, who were severe psychopaths.

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Psychological Explanation

The psychological approach is often applied to the analysis of deviant behavior. The thinkers of the past, who worked for a psychological explanation of the deviation, emphasized the importance of the so-called common states: “mental defects”, “degeneracy”, “dementia” and “psychopathy”.

Mental illness does not automatically refer to persons regarded as deviant (since it refers only to problems with the mind, not the body). However, sociologists also are likely to study mental illness when dealing with deviant behaviors. In short, a mental disorder’ has “behavioral or psychological features, such as clinical manifestations of significant distress or disability, that reflect an underlying hormonal function,” the definition states. There is nothing underhanded about psychological processes, or biological processes that make up these deficits.

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Effects of Deviant Behavior 

Negative deviance involves behavior that fails to meet accepted norms. People expressing negative deviance either reject the norms, misinterpret the norms, or are unaware of the norms. Positive deviance involves over conformity to norms. Positive deviance can be as disruptive and hard to manage as negative deviance.

Likewise, what are the effects of deviant behavior? Some of the common deviant behavior include stealing, truancy, disobedience to school, parents, and the community at large, mass demonstrations leading to the destruction of property, drug abuse, smoking, etc. While the types of deviance can vary, the negative consequences of these behaviors include some form of prejudice and social ostracism. In certain cases, deviant behavior is criminal, resulting in legal ramifications.

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Consequences of Deviant Behavior 

Labeling people as deviants can cause them pain and suffering, as well as determine the direction of their lives. Although the word “deviance” has a negative connotation in everyday language, sociologists recognize that deviance is not necessarily bad.

Criminology and deviant behavior are often considered connected, if not part of the same phenomenon. Deviance is an individual’s divergence from society’s behavioral norms, while criminal behavior may or may not be deviant when it violates society’s legal norms. Even when deviant behavior fails to rise to the level of criminal activity that can be prosecuted and punished, the negative effects of such deviance can be far-ranging, severe and long-lasting.

On the other hand, what constitutes deviant behavior is subject to the ever-fluid and evolving morals and values of modern society. Morals and values can seem to change with whiplash-like speed, although in actuality, such change is typically driven by generational differences in experience. Many actions designated as crimes are not considered deviant, at least any longer. One such example of negative deviance that has changed is gambling in certain jurisdictions. Other actions that may be considered deviant from the norm in some cultures or milieus (such as adultery) are increasingly viewed as outside the purview of criminal law in some jurisdictions, such as the United Kingdom.

Sociology of Deviant Behavior

Sociologists who study deviance and crime examine cultural norms, how they change over time, how they are enforced, and what happens to individuals and societies when norms are broken. Deviance and social norms vary among societies, communities, and times, and often sociologists are interested in why these differences exist and how these differences impact the individuals and groups in those areas.

Sociologists define deviance as behavior that is recognized as violating expected rules and norms. It is simply more than nonconformity, however; it is behavior that departs significantly from social expectations. In the sociological perspective on deviance, there is a subtlety that distinguishes it from our commonsense understanding of the same behavior. Sociologists stress social context, not just individual behavior.

Sociologists often use their understanding of deviance to help explain otherwise ordinary events, such as tattooing or body piercing, eating disorders, or drug and alcohol use. Many of the kinds of questions asked by sociologists who study deviance deal with the social context in which behaviors are committed. For example, are there conditions under which suicide is acceptable? Would one who commits suicide in the face of a terminal illness be judged differently from a despondent person who jumps from a window?

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Types of Therapy Used in Addiction Treatment and Recovery

There are many different types of therapies that are used in addiction and alcohol treatment programs. There are many different types of therapies that are used in addiction treatment programs.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Addiction Treatment

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is founded on the core principle that psychological problems like addiction are based (in part) on harmful thinking patterns, negative learned behaviors, and unhelpful coping techniques.

CBT aims to change harmful thinking patterns by teaching individuals how to recognize and reevaluate them realistically, use problem-solving to deal with difficult situations, develop self-confidence and self-efficacy, and gain a better understanding of the behaviors of others.

What Are the Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Addiction?

  • CBT is focused on the present and goal-oriented.
  • CBT helps clients develop strategies to deal with cravings, stressful situations, or triggers that may occur outside of rehab.
  • CBT can be used in group or individual therapy.
  • CBT allows clients and therapists to work together to identify negative thinking patterns and develop healthy ones.
  • The skills required for CBT are practical ones that can be incorporated into everyday life.

Contingency Management for Addiction Treatment

Contingency management (CM) treatments are based upon a simple behavioral principle — if a behavior is reinforced or rewarded, it is more likely to occur in the future. These behavioral principles are used in everyday life. In the case of substance abuse treatment, drug abstinence, as well as other behaviors consistent with a drug-free lifestyle, can be reinforced using these principles. The premise behind CM is to utilize these and other reinforcement procedures systematically to modify the behaviors of substance abusers in a positive and supportive manner. 

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Addiction Treatment

The DBT approach is multidimensional and comprehensive and relies on learning skills to change unhelpful thoughts and behaviors. Therapists using DBT teach critical behavioral skills by modeling, providing instructions, telling stories, practicing, giving feedback, and coaching.

Research indicates that DBT is effective in treating people with borderline personality disorder with co-occurring substance use disorders. Several clinical trials suggest that DBT may also be effective in treating individuals with a substance use disorder and other co-occurring disorders, or individuals who have not responded to other evidence-based substance use disorder treatments.

A substance use-focused DBT approach encourages individuals to commit to abstinence and work to bolster their motivation to change through the various activities and techniques. DBT treats relapse as a problem to solve; therefore, therapists help the individual assess the events that led to the relapse and work to help them repair the harm they caused themselves and others as a result of the relapse. The idea is to increase the individual’s awareness surrounding the negative consequences associated with drug or alcohol use

We Level Up rehab center in New Jersey uses individualized treatment plans for each client to ensure they can find success in recovery. We know there is no one-size-fits-all recovery method. Treatment plans take into account the drug abuse and deviant behavior, co-occurring disorders, past traumas, past treatments, and future planning that may be needed. We Level Up dual diagnosis treatment centers New Jersey has detoxMATresidential, and aftercare planning programs for those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction call our 24/7 admissions team.

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[1] WHO – https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/data-and-analysis/bulletin/bulletin_1999-01-01_1_page005.html#:~:text=If%20substance%20use%20is%20described,fear%20as%20means%20of%20prevention.