Deviant behavior refers to behavior that does not conform to norms, does not meet the expectations of a group of a society as a whole. After birth, children begin to experience situations with others. They are taught what he or she 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 develops a system of values. These values provide justification and motivation or for wanting to refrain from behavior that is disapproved.
After reading this, one can see how a behavior is considered deviant, but the question is, “Why is a certain type of behavior considered deviant?” This paper will take a particular deviant behavior, which is illicit drug use, and examine why this type of behavior is labeled as deviant. By using theoretical approaches, this paper will provide the reader an explanation of why illicit drug use occurs in the first place.
Throughout history, all human societies have used drugs, but it hasn’t been until recently considered deviant behavior. Drug use was seen only as a personal problem, but today’s societies, in general, condemns 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” (Clinard and Meier, 2001). This is seen in new laws and legislation against drug use, making drug use, seen by society, as wrong and criminal. This causes public opinion to look at drug use as deviant because the norms of society have been changed. These new laws were passed by legislation because of the common myth that drug use is the cause of bigger problems of society. Society is given the belief that drug users posses certain characteristics which include “low self-esteem, social incompetence, inadequate identity, easily influenced by peers, and irresponsible or mindless” (Moore and Saunders, 1999). This tells society that only troubled people use drugs. This common belief holds that people using drugs necessarily have personal problems and lack social skills, which then in turn, threatens personal health and morality to societies well being. Also, medically, reference to elicit drug use is considered drug abuse. T...
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...s of drug use as very negative because mostly of the formal sanctions powered by the legislature. The media portrays the stereotypes of the type of people who use drugs and this only helps fuel societies approach in dealing with illicit drug use. Society in general needs to refrain from looking at drug use as negative, but look at it as a norm for human beings. Until drug use is seen as a norm, the media and politician will still see that all drug use is a problem, and considered it deviant. Study that would help this issue would be if drug use has any positive benefits that people who abstain from drugs do not receive.
1. Akens, Ronald. 1998. Social Learning and Social Structure: A General Theory of Crime and Deviance. Boston: Northeastern University Press.
2. Becker, Howard. 1963. Outsiders: Studies in Sociology of Deviance. New York: The Free Press.
3. Clinad, Marshall and Meier. 2001. Sociology of Deviant Behavior. Orlanda: Harcourt College Publishers.
4. Goode, Jack. 1994. A Theory about Control. Boulder: Westview Press.
5. Moore, David and saunders, Bill. 2001. “Youth Drug Use and the Prevention of Problems.” Journal of Drug Issues 13:219-235.
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