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The Correlation of Drugs, Money, Media, and Advertising


The modern world has many extremely dangerous and intractable problems. In the last decades, the problem of non-medical drugs has grown to the scale of a threat to the safety of the entire humanity. Increased production of euphoria substances and a variety of newly synthesized narcotics have entered human life unexpectedly and without proper control. In this regard, there has appeared an urgent need for new, bold, and creative solutions to curb drug abuse.

According to various estimates, each year drug users spend between 300 and 500 billion dollars all over the world (Tate, Taylor, & Sawyer, 2013). Researchers of the problem associate the origin of giant hidden states belonging to anonymous owners with the drug trade. Smuggling and drug trafficking are not only a social phenomenon, a public health problem, and a growing crime factor, but also a significant sector of the world economy, which brings uncountable profits.

Modern global drug trade is based on a close correlation of the criminal environment, business, political circles, and media. French specialist De Bree wrote that over the years criminals managed to create the network in governments of different countries, as well as bribe or blackmail ministers, parliamentarians, and government officials (Wilson & Kolander, 2011). The problem has become subconsciously neglected as officials often contribute to the drugs trade expansion.

The problems of drug addiction and drug abuse are at the intersection of many sciences. They involve sociology, cultural studies, economics, law, and medicine. Scientists in the US have made the largest contribution to the study of these problems. It draws a lot of attention because of high levels of substance use in the country.

The global society needs reliable and effective barriers preventing further spread of non-medical drugs in the life of common citizens in countries all over the world. The practice has shown that violent or repressive methods are not effective and have no long-term result. The increase of opportunities for development, active public discussion, and social media advertising contribute to the creation of a new anti-drug global mentality. Awareness of the problem and the ability to discuss it openly give a chance to develop a firm position against drugs abuse in an individual.

Approaches to the Problem of Drug Addiction and Money Turnover

Being one of the most profitable illegal businesses, narcotic trade involves a global money turnover (Jung, 2009). The European society got acquainted with the Eastern drugs (hashish and opium) in the early 19th century. They became popular not only as a pain medication, but also as a means of expansion of consciousness. Initially, addiction developed only in the bohemian circles. After the Opium Wars of 1839-1860, Europeans forced the government to legalize the Chinese Empire opium trade. By the early 20th century, addiction had become known already in many parts of the world, but was widespread only in certain social strata (criminals, bohemian elite, and the ex-military). After the ban of the legal drug trade, the scope of consumers became limited to the social bottom (Jung, 2009).

The turning point came in 1960 in an atmosphere of "welfare society" when non-medical drugs entered middle classes of America and Western Europe. A steady increase in the number of users was seen until the 1990s when the AIDS epidemic and the growing popularity of healthy lifestyles reduced attractiveness of drugs (Levine, 2003). Exacerbation of socio-economic problems in the countries of the "third world" led to an increase in drug use in the second half of the 20th century. Production of substances increased and there appeared a lot of cheap narcotic substances. By the end of the 20th century, drugs addiction had become known as one of the global problems (Tate et al., 2013).

Consumption of drugs is harmful because it gives users a subjective feeling of pleasure and harms to the body and psyche. At the same time, drug use can occur not only for the sake of pleasure, but it can also be recommended by doctors as an analgesic, hypnotic, or psycho stimulant. If drug use is regular, the body of the consumer gradually forms a physical or psychological dependence. As a result, drug use becomes necessary to relieve pain. A condition in which a person feels the need for a regular use of the substance is called addiction (Tate et al., 2013).

Sociologists consider it as a form of deviant behavior that does not meet formally established or actually prevailing norms, stereotypes, and patterns of behavior. For an explanation of addiction and drug abuse, scientists use sociological theories describing mechanisms of deviation (Levine, 2003).

In the modern literature on the sociology of drug use, one of the central theses concerns inadequacy of the youth’s leisure that breeds boredom and depression. Young people who feel their inability to get real satisfaction are subject to social disorganization and start taking drugs. Other sociological studies have linked anomic addiction not so much with an inability to get pleasure, but more with setbacks in life career. American sociologist Denis Kandel argues that important incentives of illicit drug use are a failure of a normal entry into adult roles such as marriage and continuous working time (Wilson & Kolander, 2011). Drug use is seen as a manifestation of social and psychological pathology associated with the inability of individuals to take an adequate position in the sexual sphere, family life, and labor market.

Another direction of sociological research sees the priority not in personal problems of an individual, but in peculiarities of behavior of different social groups. Trying to determine vulnerable individuals, who are able to come to the use of drugs, scientists study families, cultural environment, as well as negative social factors of life such as poverty, unemployment, and discrimination (Howitt, 2013).

Previously, it was thought that marginal elements characterized by a lack of self-control and familiarity with "normal" cultural forms of a modern middle-class life have the hardest addiction. An American sociologist John Handlebi interviewed 150 "difficult" boys before they entered the reform school and tested 196 boys from mainstream schools. Then, three years later he re-examined them. The study showed that those who were marked as hyper movable and showed signs of independent character were significantly higher predisposed to drugs (Howitt, 2013).

Based on that research, some radical sociologists now consider addiction as a manifestation of rebellion. In their view, the use of drugs is often a reflexive resistance to dominant social values, cultural practices, as well as ideological and material conditions of life. Young people included in the community leading a drug "lifestyle" adapt to values ​​prevailing in this group within which drug use is not considered as criminal or even bad.

Economic theories interpret drug addiction as a special case of consumption of evil products, putting drug on par with alcohol, smoking, or gambling addiction. Economists suggest that behavior of all people is rational. They consciously and deliberately seek to maximize their own welfare when their available resources are limited. Accordingly, drug addicts are treated as people who know about harmful effects of drug use, but consciously choose narcotic dreams instead of dull everyday work and life.

Personal Vision of the Problem’s Salvation

Addiction stimulates numerous types of offenses. The demand for drugs when there is a ban on the commercial trade in drug trafficking generates development of smuggling. Other types of crimes associated with drug trafficking and activity grow as well. If the need for daily intake is high, the addict is willing to commit any crime to get money for another dose. He/she loses the connection with the society, family, and friends and steps into a natural state of high alert to commit a crime. Analysis of normative sources shows that there are three main strategies of social control in anti-drug activity: repressive, liberal, and restrictive (Stevenson, 2011).

Repressive strategy considers a drug user as an antisocial type responsible for their plight. The basic approach is a criminal punishment, isolation, and forced treatment. Much difference between a drug addict and a drug user is not done. In the context of this model, drug addiction as a whole is presented as a disposable phenomenon. This path is the most prevalent in countries with totalitarian political regimes in the present and the past.

Within the framework of the liberal model, an addict is a sick man and a victim of personal predisposition or external circumstances. Public attention is focused not on punishment or suppression through repression, but on treatment and prevention efforts. Victims of drug addiction get psychological and socio-medical care. Despite being soft and rather liberal, this approach eliminates blind faith in the power of the ban, seeing it as an ineffective means of solving the problem of drug abuse. Social practices of the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Australia have developed drug laws without bans and restrictions, appealing to personal choice and responsibility. In the US, many states have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. However, in many developing countries such removal of administrative and legal prohibitions and restrictions on the use of even soft drugs, as well as legalization of their turnover can have dangerous social and criminal consequences.

Another way is seen in the development of the restrictive model of social control, the implementation of which has been tested successfully in Sweden. The restrictive approach occupies an intermediate position between the two above options. It includes both measures differentiating general social and socio-medical drug prevention and repressive measures aimed at curbing drug trafficking and prosecuting those who profit from this social problem. An addict within the restrictive position is a sick person who needs various forms of treatment and reintegration into the society. There is a clear distinction between drug addicts and drug users. Drug users are the main object of preventive anti-drug operations aimed at limitation of the demand for drugs. Drug addiction is a phenomenon that can not be eliminated, but it can be subjected to effective control and limitation (Stimson, 2010).

There have been successful attempts to prevent spread of narcotics in the past by application of the mass media and advertising. In the late 80s, TV commercials compared the brain under the influence of drugs with an egg on a hot skillet and talked about paranoia, heart disease, and insanity caused by smoking marijuana. This kind of "bullying" showed outstanding results. The number of drug users reduced from 22 million in 1985 to 12 million in 1992 (Stimson, 2010).

Modern achievements of the social advertising concern various social anti-drug projects. Creators of the Above the Influence have developed a novel anti-drug public service announcements aimed at teenagers. Youthful experiments with "substances" are shown as scenes from the life of rats, slugs, and ants. Anthropomorphic animals depicted on posters offer each other a deadly rat poison, salt, and insecticide. The campaign slogan is ‘What's the worst that could happen?’

Employees of the Lithuanian charitable organization gave created a simple, but powerful way of deadly passions by the project “On the other side of the needle”. The slogan “Choose your side” implies that the best contribution to the fight against drugs worldwide is a personal rejection of them.

Another psychological insight has been achieved in action carried out by the Montana Meth Project “In a past life”. The authors of the idea have shown as victims of drugs fall out of life and cease to exist for their families.

"Before methamphetamine" (Before Meth …) project entails the following:

Someone from the family briefly tells about an addicted person in the photo: "Before I had methamphetamine brother, now I have a thief", "… I had a daughter, now I have a prostitute" (Stevenson, 2011).

Brazilian creators of the Bronx Comunicação warn that "Addiction is a chain reaction". The essence of the concept is simple: all members of the society like the atoms in the molecular chain can be ruined or saved by adjacent "cells".


Traditional prohibition of the drugs use has formed an extensive illegal market. Drug trafficking has become the most profitable kind of mafia business as it remains to this day the one that provides about a half of income of the international organized crime.

As a part of the restrictive model, the priority concerns preventive practices, information about psychological, educational, medical, and educational consequences, and response measures to minimize harm while banning legalization of drugs. This approach is more flexible and effective because it allows the program to use replacement therapy of severe drug addiction, studies of needle exchange, and other social and health measures to minimize harm. Drug prevention should be based on intolerance of the society to this phenomenon and should be aimed at forming antidrug barriers.

Internal antidrug barriers are a biological stability of an individual to the action of drugs. It depends on the healthy lifestyle, parents, effective prenatal prevention, and individual's psychological stability in relation to narcotic temptation. Well-developed and stable requirements of the emotional sphere, socially useful value orientations, and corresponding activities contribute to the firm position against drugs addiction. Exploring substances and their destructive actions on the body and mind add to the knowledge of how to confront narcotic pressure environment, in particular how to choose correct tactics of behavior in situations of drug exposure. External antidrug barriers imply intolerance to narcotics in the public consciousness achieved through joint efforts of educators, sociologists, social psychologists, religious leaders, and media professionals.

Nowadays, social advertising helps to enhance immunity against drugs consumption and contributes sound arguments in favor of life without drugs. The "method of intimidation" has been changed to reflect the essence of the phenomenon into the "negative reinforcement method" whereby the concept of a drug is associated with strong negative emotions through the arts, hence promoting solid defensive negative attitudes about the substance use.