Effects of popular drugs on our society today
Arguably the quintessential factor that has led to the countless advancements in human history is our tendency to talk and interact with the people around us. We are all social beings, with our ability to socialize being both a key characteristic of humans and the basis of our combined culture. For thousands of years, one specific substance which has been known to facilitate such social interactions is alcohol. Now, I’m not attributing advancements in human history to the discovery of alcohol. However, It is interesting to analyze the role that certain substances, or “drugs”, have in reference to how we interact with each other, and how they can impact our society as a whole. As previously mentioned, alcohol can be widely considered as a “social drug”. For example, when intoxicated the user generally finds themselves giddy and outgoing. Numb to the pains of social anxiety, one tends to outwardly express themselves through actions and conversation that their sober counterpart may never take part in. Alcohol has long had its place in our society and cultures throughout the world, Yet has also been associated with countless tragedies. Focusing on western culture in particular, is alcohol really beneficial to our society? Does it do more harm than good?
How do “social drugs” play a role in our society? If we can define a “social drug” as an intoxicating substance commonly used by groups of people in certain social settings such as a party or gathering of some sort, then surely drugs like alcohol and even marijuana would fall into this category. This setting of course sounds an awful lot like the stereotypical American college experience. With college being a social place, It would only make sense to see the use of such social drugs. In a way, booze seems to be historically known for bringing people together in a party atmosphere. This type of setting, looking at the positives. Is great for meeting new friends, making memories and having a good time. However, not every college kid is 21 and underage drinking can be a serious problem. Along with drunk driving, and alcohol poisoning, partying can become dangerous.
Both alcohol and marijuana may be referred to as “social drugs” but each certainly impacts society in very different ways. Each year in the US alcohol is responsible for nearly 88,000 deaths. While Marijuana, in the history of its existence on planet earth, has never caused a single fatality. Yet one of these substances is federally legal in America, while the other is not. And ill give you a hint, it’s the opposite of what you might think based on these statistics. Its well known that one can overdose on alcohol, yet it is nearly impossible to do the same with marijuana. The fatality rate for these two social drugs is one way to analyze their impact on our society.
So does Alcohol do more harm than good? Is marijuana then a safer alternative? The answer to each of these is often fairly arbitrary and would vary depending on the individual, but looking at the facts is one way to help decide. Smoking pot will almost inevitably result in respiratory issues, however the list of disorders which marijuana has been known to treat actually seems to out weigh the negative side effects from the drug. While excessive alcohol use can lead to depression, violence, and liver and heart complications, marijuana users experience increased appetite, possible lack of motivation and lack of attention span. However, with new medical applications for cannabis, we start to see it shift away from the typical association of a party drug.
Its difficult to simply conclude that a world without these “social drugs” would be a better one. These substances arguably each have their place in our culture, for better or worse. It certainly would be interesting, however, to see how our society would differ today if cannabis had been as involved, and as accepted, historically, in our culture as alcohol has been. If its true what they say about history repeating itself, Its likely that Marijuana prohibition will follow a path reflective of alcohol prohibition. With the removal of its illegal status, we could expect to see further advancements in research and medical applications for the plant, potential economic benefits for states, and even possibly, as far as recreational drug use is concerned, a safer legal alternative to alcohol.