Group 3: Final Project - Drugs

Hannah, Kieran, Cody, Joshua, and Malachi

Kieran - I am currently a sophomore majoring in Psychology

My experiences with Drugs, Alcohol, Crime and Delinquency

Drugs and alcohol have been a significant part of my life. I personally have never done drugs or alcohol but I have been surrounded by it growing up. There have been members of my family that have struggled with drugs and alcohol abuse and unfortunately still do. The one experience that affected me the most was when my father was addicted to drugs. When he was struggling with his addiction I was too young to realize what was going on but I do have memories from that time period that I can’t forget. I was about 3 years old when my father first began to abuse drugs. I remember how my dad would leave the house in the late hours of the night and wouldn’t come back until two days later. I remember seeing the changes in his personality over time. He became more mean and irritable towards my mother but he wouldn’t ever change the way he acted towards me. This went on for about a year and a half until my father was arrested and spend a year in prison for possession of illegal substance. My mother and I lived on our own for a year and it was extremely hard for her. After my dad was released from prison, he wasn’t abusing drugs any longer. It was interesting because when talking to my mother about situation later on when I was older to understand what really happened, she explained to me that before my dad was arrested that he quit one day out of nowhere. I had a hard time comprehending how someone could just quit their addiction cold turkey after abusing the drug for a year. My mother said that my dad realized how his decisions were hurting his family and that he quit because he loved us. My dad got arrested because he was stopped by the cops for a broken tail light while he was on his way to getting rid of the rest of the drugs he had.Looking back at this experience taught me more about family than drugs. This taught me that aside from drugs harming one’s physical body, drugs do more damage to harming the ones you love. I am reluctant to try any drugs or drink any alcohol because I know what it can lead up to if it became out of control. I love my family too much to put them in a situation where they could potentially get hurt because of my decisions.

Connecting Personal Experiences with Class Materials

Social status has a big influence on the distribution of drugs and alcohol in our society. Looking back at my personal experiences with drugs I noticed that where I lived was drug infested. I lived in a low income community that had high rates of crime. At the time I wasn’t aware of this because I was young but now I realize that neighborhoods like the one I grew up in was one of many. Going back to the video interview between Professor Custer and Professor Scott, Scott mentioned that there is heavy drug enforcement in poor communities rather than more wealthy communities. (16:23) This is a direct connection to race and ethnicity. According to the conflict perspective, the drug abuse problem is shaped in part by the exercise of social, political, and economic power. (p.309) The people who are the most influential when it comes to enforcing laws on drug abuse are the rich and powerful. Sullivan refers back to the 1980’s and 1990’s where drug enforcement authorities were criticized for fighting a war against young African Americans and Hispanics. As you may know, a majority of African Americans and Hispanics live in low-class communities that have no influence when it comes to how drug abuse is enforce and therefore are becoming the one’s who are being arrested more frequently. Sullivan writes, “The vast majority of those arrested in the war on drugs are African Americans and Hispanic Americans even though there are as many white drug users.” (p.310) What also contributes to the different treatments of crime is the areas in which they happen. Professor Scott said in the video that when a call is made about drug abuse in a very wealthy neighborhood it isn’t enforced as much as if a call were made about drug abuse in a very poor neighborhood. According to our textbook, socioeconomic status plays a part in the amount of arrest that occur in our society. Statistics show that lower-class people are more likely to commit crimes, but also that lower-class people are more likely to be arrested. (p.277)

Another point that I would like to discuss is the price of different drugs. There are many different drugs that are produced and shipped to the U.S. Certain drugs are more expensive than others and certain drugs are treated differently than others. When comparing a drug like cocaine compared to crack, these drugs are valued very differently. For one, cocaine is more of an expensive drug than crack and is usually associated with high society (millionaires and wealthy people). Cocaine isn’t seen every day and is handled with extreme caution. Crack on the other hand is a very inexpensive drug that is usually associated with lower class citizen, primarily African Americans in low income neighborhoods. Crack is easily accessible and isn’t handled with as much caution as cocaine. Over the past 50 years, Crack has become known as the “black drug” due to numerous amounts of arrests of African Americans for abusing this drug. The low income neighborhoods are communities that are heavily drug enforced because the drugs that are distributed are cheap and are abused more openly. It is hard for police officers to catch people with cocaine because it isn’t cheap and it is hidden. This directly ties into the socioeconomic hierarchy of our society. People who have more money have better resources to hide their drug use. Our textbook claims, “African Americans are lower in socioeconomic standing, so they are less likely to be involved with “hidden” and “respectable” crimes...African Americans may be more closely watched than whites by law enforcement agencies which would lead to higher arrest rates.” (p.278) The fact that African Americans are more closely watched by law enforcement is a clear example of how unfairly blacks are treated in our society. This connects to stereotypes as well. African Americans have a reputation that we are all trying to either hurt or rob everybody. Prejudice and stereotypes are what drives law enforcement to focus more on the black community more than everyone else. It is clear that inequality exists in our society. Crime enforcement today is a prime example of how our society views blacks.

Cody Westphal -- Junior majoring in History and doing the Education Double Degree.

Drug Experience: Oh boy...

First of all, when I heard the professor was planning to split us into groups that were relateable to our lives, and saw that I was put in the “Drugs” group, I started laughing, and laughing, and laughing; Couldn’t think of a more fitting group to possibly put me in. When I was a kid, and even a young adult in High School, I never even entertained the idea of trying ANY sort of drug. I was a goodie-goodie, got alright grades, and was a total teachers pet. My dad, in fact, was the principle of my high school for 8 years, so I had a reputation and needed to avoid tarnishing it. I tried marijuana for the first time when I was ~17. I had many careers in mind to pursue before that, but it eventually became a career for me and I spent the past 5-6 years working in dispensaries. After having used it myself at that age, though, I’m totally against kids under 18, (really, 21 is even better) using because it does have proven negative side effects on a developing mind. It definitely had a negative effect on my school work in high school and my motivation to do a lot of things. It also was a gateway drug for me, though many say it isn’t, to other psychedelic drugs that I also learned (only from using!) aren’t that bad, but it is a concern that some may stray towards more dangerous drugs. For adults though, a majority of the side effects experienced in high school students aren’t present, and it is a better recreational substance than alcohol in my opinion and many others. Many, many people disagree with my philosophy on drugs, which in short is: If it’s grown from soil (and not processed), or in the rare case someone I know and deeply trust has tried it and testifies to its safety, there is no reason for me not to try it at least once. Once again, it’s not a common outlook, but by using it I have had the opportunity to explore experiences society frowns upon, and form my own opinions on them. Lots of people think things such as “Wow, I would never want someone who does drugs in their personal time teaching my children.” I thought that might be a good subject for discussion this week, getting different opinions; Whether you all agree or disagree. Is that really such a bad thing? (The question is vague, I know, since some drugs might be acceptable while others aren’t.) Completely controversial topic I imagine, but it’s a common issue in my life when considering future careers. It’s difficult to answer, because many drugs, such as Heroin, Crack, Meth, and Cocaine, give the impression that all drugs are bad, and will cause addiction and unacceptable long-term behavior. I certainly would never want my kids to have a teacher who had used or abused those drugs. On the other hand, do you think drugs such as Marijuana or Mushrooms (just two common, well-known examples), that only last for a maximum of 24 hours (unless in stupid-large doses), are something educators, and American people in general, should be barred from participating in? One of my main concerns with school drug education is that they prefer to use scare tactics (at my school, at least) rather than being honest with the kids and giving them accurate information that will serve them right. Things such as the idea of Marijuana being fantastic for people with certain medical conditions, but can be absolutely detrimental and disastrous to a developing mind. In general, it’s not fair to just claim certain things are all bad when they can be good and bad at different times and places. Same idea as Sexual Education in schools; Teaching abstinence from sex and drugs is straight up silly. Many young adults will do both. People need to get over the idea that their kid is “innocent, and would never do that”, and figure out how to teach kids to be smart and safe, not sneaky!

I know that my post has jumped around to different drug topics and isn’t particularly linear, but the main point i’m trying to get across, is that drugs aren’t always bad, and people need to recognize that some productive members of society want to work really hard for 40 hours a week, try and make a difference to the people around them, and in their weekend doing shrooms at the beach with a stripper before being actors on the Jerry Springer show. (Which is probably my best, funniest life story, very unrelated to sociology, that I would love to tell anyone interested.) It’s also important to always remember that not all drugs are safe, and some are only safe for certain groups of people, and that’s where (in my opinion) education plays an ENORMOUS role in the successful treatment in national drug abuse and development of a more progressive drug culture with more research and studies on the subject.

Connecting Personal Experiences with Class Materials:
I was glad to have the opporitunity to share my story with the class in the week 6 discussion. Many people responded with feedback that I enjoyed reading, along with personal stories that were similar to mine, which helped me relate to them as not only classmates and peers but as people who have had experiences just like me. Some of the responses covered the subject of how regulated, legal drug use would affect the credibility and effectiveness of teachers, and whether or not society would be okay with that. I was genuinely hoping for good responses for that and the class followed through, which is fantastic. Responses that stood out in particular were from Robert and Claire, though Glenn had a nice response I won't be touching on. Robert related my experiences to his own; going through high school and experiencing the pressure to use Marijuana. He tried it, hated it, and it only affected him negatively from there. What stood out from his post, though, is that he still thinks highly of people who can use marijuana in moderation and wouldn't hold it against anyone, educator or otherwise, doing so. These are the type of stories you can't get from textbooks, and only come from other humans who have learned from "the real world." The other response I thought worth mentioning, was Claire's. She reminded us that " With the widespread use of drugs, we have to know that not all of these people succumb to addiction and decline in success by using drugs. I think it's hard, as a society, to accept that there are people who live there lives with the 'mere use of drugs', as you mentioned, because of the negative connotation that drug use has." (Claire Week 6) She makes exactly the point I was hoping people would think of when I mentioned educators and the use of drugs. While it's absolutely possible for people to not succumb to addiction and still be productive members of society, almost everything we have been taught says otherwise. Often, though, reality and stereotypes don't match up.

Even though it doesn't pertain to me, the textbook ended up having a fantastic explanation for the reasoning for drug abuse. What does it apply to me, is when Sullivan talks about what causes people to try drugs initially; a subject that I find very interesting. He says in the textbook on page 311, in reference to the Interactionist Perspective of drug abuse: "Cultural transmission theories view crime and drug abuse as learned behaviors that are transmitted through the socialization process of a particular culture or subculture." (Sullivan 311) I think this perspective heavily applies to drug use, or at least heavily applied to my first use of drugs. Not just me, but many others in the class tried marijuana for the first time because my friends were already doing it and they persuaded me to try it by praising, if not exaggerating, the effects that it caused. Sullivan has another quote on the same page, which relates very closely to the idea I had just mentioned: "A person being introduced to cocaine, for instance, might be told by experienced users that cocaine is good because it makes one more perceptive, creative, and energetic, whereas alcohol is a downer." (Sullivan 311) This is a textbook example, no pun intended, of why people may try drugs for the first time. Why they continue to do it to the point of abuse is something that Sullivan covers through the rest of Chapter 9, but doesn't relate much to me, so isn't worth covering much in this poster. Another fantastic resource for why people abuse drugs, was the interview with Scott Akins (my favorite of the year) where he talked about why the Native American populations saw such heavy drug use on reservations.

Anyways, the responses to my initial portion of the group project were useful in expanding on the question I had asked, and I appreciated everyone that gave their input. The real-life experiences of other people in the class, to me, are an essential part of understanding the subject that you just can't get from textbooks.

Joshua Ramsey - Junior in Kinesiology

My experiences with drugs are mostly the effects they had on my friend from high school. I attended Centennial High School in Gresham Oregon and the encounters we had with drugs started with marijuana and alcohol. It began like you might expect a couple of high school students doing something dumb one evening in the summer before Junior year, we had gotten into his parents liquor cabinet (not really that difficult they basically gave us the key) and started with a bottle of vodka and due to the fact that there were other substances in the house the night ended with a blunt.

After a few weeks of this it was beginning to get closer to the start of the school year and I stopped participating in the festivities and wanted to get ready for the upcoming year. My friend however did not, and on a few occasions even showed up to classes drunk or high. Thankfully he never was caught or he would have been expelled or worse. This began to put strain on our friendship as I wanted to make sure he kept his grades up because we both wanted to attend OSU once we graduated and needed the grades to get in. As the year went on though he began to drink less but smoke more. Now I have nothing against smoking and in fact I know the benefits of it as well but he was letting it start to influence his life more and more and his GPA steadily began to decline. He even began to experiment with some other drugs like mushrooms and MDMA (like of course he said would NEVER happen)

Sometime later it came time to apply for college for his as he is a year older than I am but he never finished his application, he knew his GPA was too low and he never even took his SAT. Luckily he was able to barely graduate and began to work the following summer. Today he actually did go back to school and attends CC and does not experiment with any other drugs the point of my section here is that it doesn't have to ruin your life. My friend still smokes but now it is legal here in Oregon and he is passing classes, working steadily and overall has changed a lot in the past few years. I have omitted some parts of this story as I do not wish to share them now but mostly it has to do with the impacts and falling out that we had for a time after my graduation.

Hannah Akamine- Senior- Liberal Studies

Experience with Drugs:

My experience with drugs has come directly from watching my family use and abuse many different forms. Starting with my grandparents, who are heavily addicted to smoking cigarettes. I cannot imagine a single, family function where my grandfather hasn’t had to excuse himself multiple times to have a smoke. I recently found out that my grandmother was a heavy smoker, until she quit cold-turkey to motivate that same grandfather to stop drinking. Then there is my mom, who is, what I like to call a binge alcoholic. She doesn’t realize it yet. Which makes it even harder on everyone else. My mom is one of the most loving, caring, understanding women you will ever meet, but if you meet her when she is drunk you will not see any of those characteristics. I can recall many times, when I was in high school, where I would have to carry her up the stairs and bath her, then wake her up for work the next day. Then that has carried over to my sister. She does it the exact same way as my mom. Then there are my cousins. Both were in a gang when they lived in Long Beach. My parents took them under their wings and raised them while they were in High school, mainly to get them away from drugs. One of them was very successful after many battles with drugs. Now he has two beautiful young boys, wife, and a MBA. The other cousin was not so successful. Him and his wife continued their drug abuse. They continued it through their rehab. Through the family’s help and the wife continued after her pregnancy. Two years ago, my cousin’s wife passed away due to an overdose. My cousin lost custody of his son and now is battling to regain custody. His mother, my aunt raises his child and he only has visitation rights based on passed drug tests, which he has now been clean for over three years, or at least to my knowledge. My other cousin, from a different aunt also lost custody over her child related to a drug problem. Her relation to drugs was based on her manic episodes. She did not know how to control herself.

How did this affect me?

This has changed my life in many ways. One, I know that I have a pre-deposition to becoming an addict. Whether it be alcohol, or other types of drugs, I know I am at risk ( 308). I see how it has affected my life, and how it has affected my family’s life and I personally never want to inflict that pain to my loved ones. I am not completely sober; however, I do not let myself get “intoxicated” in anyway. I see how drugs can be a very slippery slope, and I find myself monitoring everyone around me. I see that many factors can contribute and sometimes people cannot help stop by themselves. They need others and support.

Malachi Mulhair -Junior -Forest Management

Experience with drugs:

Hello everybody. So my experience with drugs has been somewhat something i was born into. I come from Washington and my parents were very young when they had me; they were in college, younger than i am now. They had married because i was being born but it didn’t last more than a couple years. They were both, and are still, some of the biggest ‘hippie’ people i know, for lack of a better word. I was raised with some different experiences than most; i lived in a teepee for about a year with my parents, which i have vague memories of, i was dressed in tie dye almost everyday, and bob marley was always in my ears. Reggae concerts and festivals were regular, and life was so full of adventure and fun. My dad, who’s had dreads several times, had me start snowboarding at age 5. As the son of my parents, i was born into their world. And as a caveat, i should say that none of the things previously mentioned are explicitly indicative of a drug associated life style. However, my parents were and are both heavy weed smoking alcohol drinking people. Well several years after they divorced my mom remarried to someone who would represent more of a strict and stable figure in my life. It was weird. Its like i was born into a certain lifestyle, and then my mom thought twice about it and decided to double back and raise me in a way that was more boring and ordinary. It didn’t really work. I still visited my dad normally and did fun things, and my mom never really changed either, she was just with someone who was wasn’t similar. Well growing up after that was interesting. I still wore tie dye, had long hair, and listened to bob marley. Mind you i had no idea what weed was or looked like for the longest time. Well when 5th grade came around i started being asked if i ‘smoked weed’. I just said ‘what?’ “I hadn’t even kissed a girl yet, and now people are smoking drugs? And they assume i have? Im like 10!”-my thoughts as a fifth grader. Middle school was far worse. Everyone asked if i smoked. Teachers treated me differently. Also, it doesn’t help that my personality is very laid back, relaxed, and my eyes naturally look like someone who is stoned. Well despite the prejudice, i still got a 4.0 with advanced classes in 7th grade. Things didn’t change in high school. I was in 9th grade honors geometry, and my math teacher was being a prejudiced discriminator to me. She treated me different than everyone, like i was some lo-life stoner punk that was cheating his way through the system. She made my life much harder. This was the similar story for many more teachers through my high school career. All the while im in advanced classes, the band program, and a varsity wrestler. Didn’t matter. I was lumped in with every punk that looked like they smoked weed. Well, by the end of my sophomore year my mom had her second divorce, and i had just broken up with my first major girlfriend. At this point i said screw it and started smoking weed at 16. And drinking. Drinking was a lot more rare, but weed became an everyday thing. My friends were similar to me, born into a life and environment that fostered such behavior. I still continued to achieve in school, although i dropped wrestling, i went on to be the lead trombonist in my schools band program. All being said, i still have gone on to college. But all my friends, well, they have not gone on to college. Not one. Most are still living in the same town doing the same things. My parents do the same things as well. In short, my story is that of someone who was predestined by genes and societies interpretations that has led to my own drug habits.

Connecting Personal Experiences With Class Materials:

After looking back and reading this article, I can’t help but develop one prominent question; why did I develop drug and alcohol habits? It’s a rather deep and broad question. As I try to filter through all my memories and life experiences, I know deep down why it is so. But I’m going to try to put it to words in such a way that leaves no room for confusion. From reviewing the chapter, what stood out to me was the interactionist perspective on page 311. The premise of it states, “Drug use and abuse arises from the social influences and pressures that can be found in particular contexts.” This is definitely the bottom line of the matter. All my life I was essentially raised in a drug/alcohol culture. I’d say just about 90% of everyone that comprised an influence on my upbringing were a part of drug/alcohol culture to some degree. For the most part, everyone was very good about keeping it private, or at least not obvious. But some things you just can’t hide. I find myself sometimes recalling very distant memories of people like my mom and dad having habits that are synonymous with the drug/alcohol culture. One very simple example; I remember my mom and dad always using eye drops, and I even recall them doing it usually before going out in public. If you’ve ever smoked weed, you’d probably know that this is what people do to fix the “red eyes” smoking gives you. Thinking back, to when I first started smoking, I remember telling my mom I smoked. She said she already knew. I asked how. She said it was because she saw the eye drops I had. It’s funny how something as simple as that can influence someone. Similarly, both my parents always had lighters hanging around. Given, they both smoked cigarettes, but it was just one of those things. And then of course, there’s the smell. I grew up with the smell of marijuana smoke. Whether it was at home, concerts, out in the woods. My nose picked up on it. It identified it. No one told me, “Hey sonny, that’s the smell of weed!” But I knew. I knew there was always something the adults did that was private from little kids. And it was almost always outside, on the porch or something. I didn’t actually hold a nug of weed (knowingly) until high school. I never googled it, I just didn’t care. But that didn’t matter. In middle school the locker next to me smelled funny, so I smelled closer. I recognized it immediately. And I knew deep down, there’s weed in there. Well I was right, the girl who had it got busted. The text states that crime and drug abuse are learned behaviors that are transmitted through the socialization process of a particular culture or subculture. For me, when it came to making friends, it was no surprise they were somewhat similar to my own family growing up. It’s because they were raised by parents of similar culture. So now these kids and me are becoming friends because we’re similar, because our families have a drug culture. For a long time, none of these friends of mine engaged in any of these activities. They were regarded as taboo by them and me. But sure enough with time, we all began to do these same things common with the drug culture we were raised in. The text states simply enough, this socialization occurs in intimate groups such as family and friends. I can agree that is 100% true. What’s interesting enough is the text states that even someone with an alcoholic personality can be somewhat immune to becoming an alcoholic if they are involved in a subculture where drinking is severely sanctioned. I believe this to be totally true. I know I have an alcoholic personality, as do both my parents. It was genetically installed in me. I was already somewhat predestined… but the socialization that has reinforced these habits has made it much more concrete. This is how I understand my own drug/alcohol habits. All being said, this is actually my 21st birthday ironically enough. I’m not going to lie; I’m going to go drink tonight. But keeping myself aware of where I come from is important to not forget.