Drugs Problem in Urban America


This paper examines how a structure of a standard research paper looks by providing a real-time research paper as a case example. The research paper draws its function by reviewing the case of drugs in urban America. Research papers encompass detail that is relevant and drawn from credible resources. Many research papers will draw their points from statistics, previous research, empirical research, longitudinal research, and surveys. Most research papers will have a literature review that takes the place of research methodology, survey, and data collection.

The literature review provides a rather direct approach to the context. In this research paper, the context of the drug in urban America is discussed. An insight is provided by drawing the key points, facts, and objectives through evaluation of existing research findings, longitudinal studies, and empirical research. The paper explores the context of drugs in simplicity and contextualizes each aspect of proliferation, abuse, and trafficking to provide a concrete idea of how drugs have become a vice in urban America. This paper is an expose about drugs in American urban centers. The paper explains, in a ‘research paper’ format how criminal gangs, traffickers, and consumers of these drugs came to being, became established, and to what extent they have become a problem.


The context of drugs in America has drawn a plethora of research around it. Research provides a unique viewpoint concerning drug abuse, factors facilitating drug abuse, and the social responsibility of parents, teachers, and guardians in riding schools and homes drugs. While most research has ambiguously focused on drug abuse, fewer have made inroads in projecting causes of drug abuse. It is such an effort that has provided a clear view of urbanization as a major cause of increased drug use. Empirical research about drugs in the urban US shows that drugs are abundant in urban areas. Urban settlements across America report drug use in young adults and that, the numbers have increased in the recent past.

Drugs in urban America have become an interesting research topic. The difference in urban communities’ social economics displays dissenting viewpoints about how poverty and lack of opportunities force young adults into drugs. Statistical studies on various clusters of urban societies based on their backgrounds, both financial and ethnic show that, most of the urban drug users come from less advantaged families and backgrounds, and that, a bigger percentage of these drug users are non-whites. Longitudinal studies on drugs, recidivism, and criminal gangs have explained how these social problems are related to drug abuse in urban America.

Most of the cohorts in drug trafficking and abuse are non-white American males at the age of 15-30 years of age. However, studies show variation in age and ethnic background. Black males are top as violent criminals in urban areas. Researchers started recording statistical data on drug-related crimes, deaths, and weaknesses in the 1980s. It is during this period when an increase in drug-related crimes was reported. Implications on the society seemed to be dire and stakeholders of social welfare owned up their failure to keep social order.

Slip-ups facilitated this proliferation of drugs across urban settlements. Research by Howell and Decker showed that the proliferation of youth gangs fueled public fear and magnified concerns about drug abuse in urban settlements. Youth gangs are commonplace in urban centers. Research points out drugs as the main cause of young people taking up crime as a way of life.

Efforts to identify causes of drug abuse and the violent nature of abusers have yielded varying data about drug trafficking and use patterns. This data shows that various social problems in urban areas are due to the proliferation of drugs. These include gangs, gang migration, the emergence of new gangs, female drug users and gangs, drug abuse and trafficking (Howell & Decker). Those living among such criminals are at risk of losing social values, proper children’s moral development, good peers, and association. In fact, living in the presence of these criminals has made communities feel threatened and displaced.


The problem many researchers have asked themselves is how drugs overtook poverty in urban America. What is the relationship between drugs and poverty in urban areas in America? Reports of drug trafficking by criminal gangs and a better understanding of the violent relationship with drugs have forced researchers to travail to distinguish the two. The distribution of drugs, the uptake of these drugs, and the subsequent control of the distribution need to be distinguished.

Literature Review

Research developing around drug trafficking and use in urban areas explains that various factors facilitate this spread of drugs. The relationship between poverty, drugs, and crime has been investigated exhaustively. The objective has remained ‘to find the correlates of these factors.’ Since the crime rate rose when drugs became very abundant in the urban settlement, researchers have rather concentrated their efforts on the involvement platform.

The objective is to support the notion that young adults and senior members of the society ‘adults’ are involved in urban drug trafficking. Subsequently, crime rising from drug-factored needs has been earmarked as a major area of concern when studying urban drug patterns. Drug trafficking is blamed for violent crimes. To substantiate, researchers have studied the relationship between youth and adult drug gangs and curtails and violence rampant in urban centers. Longitudinal studies conducted by researchers shed light on how gangs thrive in urban areas in America. The research strongly suggests that drugs and violence are connected.

Observations made by teachers, recorded and published in credible journals of psychology explain the relationship between drug use in urban areas and violent crimes. Many young people involved in drug abuse have been involved in violence. The nature of their violence is traced to the effects of drugs. An overview of the effects of a typical drug on a user by NIDA explains how drugs can influence violent behavior.

According to empirical research and studies carried out by rehabilitation centers across the United States, the effects of crystal meth are debilitating both in the short and long term. Studies by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) show that, in the short term, crystal meth effects are identical to those of cocaine though they last longer clinically. The most notable of these effects are aggressive erratic behavior observed in users. This, clinically, is defined as ‘violent behavior in user.’ The effects, especially psychological, include mood swings, lack of sleep, high blood pressure, erratic heartaches, and convulsions.

Criminals involved in violent crimes have confessed to intoxicating themselves with drugs before engaging in crime. This is an indicator of how drugs facilitate crime. Many cases of crime under influence of drugs have been reported. Crack cocaine has remained the most trafficked drug in cities and towns. Overall, criminal organizations have used drug trafficking as an income-generating process. However, the level of uptake of these drugs amongst gang members is very high hence providing an insight into how they initiate violence (Howell & Decker, 1999). On the ground, consumers of drugs suffer from serious effects.

NIDA asserts that pregnant women who use meth are likely to miscarry. There are other health implications on pregnant women such as giving birth prematurely, bearing defective children. Such defects include cleft palate and heart defects in newborns. Conversely, those with meth addiction are diagnosed with prolonged anxiety, loss of appetite, and criminal intents including homicide and suicide. In the long term, meth has far-reaching effects clinically. NIDA reported significant cases of brain damage because of meth abuse. The destruction of the brain by crystal meth is quite shocking, yet, NIDA confirmed that this destruction resembles brain damage caused by Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.

Other long-term crystal meth effects include comas, strokes, and eventual death due to destruction of the body system and psychological incapacitation. Tooth decay, violence, weight loss, hallucinations, and cracked teeth are some of the effects on a meth user. The diagnosis done by clinicians suggests that the crystal meth abuser can be rehabilitated in rehab. This is much better if the short-term effects are arrested in time. If the user is having long-term effects, a clinical approach and a rehabilitative option are required.

NIDA has provided insight concerning other effects of crystal meth on abusers. It is reported that users suffer from itchy skin akin to ‘bugs picking on the skin. ‘Patients have reported dry mouths and insomnia. While efforts to curb drug abuse are put by the state, more young people are still finding it fun to abuse crystal meth. Rehabilitation is vital while clinical solutions to debilitated abusers are urgent measures. Meth resembles cocaine in many ways including effects, however, we all must be aware that abuse of drugs is suicidal and only inflicts very serious clinical conditions that lead to death and incapacitation.

According to Howell and Decker, adult criminal gangs are more in control of criminal activity and violence related to drugs. Current problems in Mexico are drug-related. Many lives have been lost as the government fights organized drug gangs. These gangs are blamed on violent crimes, homicide, robbery, and assault (Howell & Decker, 1999). These adult gangs have led to the evolution of other gangs, most of which are run by younger members of society. Studies to establish how the development of drug gangs has evolved show that young youths took out the older members of these gangs as the gangs became of age. The need to assassinate the elders was to allow rapid growth and the establishment of markets and protectorates. This appeared and still appears to be rampant in urban areas where gang activities have been traditional.

On the causes of these problems, research attributes the worrying trend of criminal traditions in urban areas to deteriorating economic conditions (Howell & Decker, 1999). If social economics plays a vital role in fueling the growth of drug gangs in inner-city areas, the hypothetical stalemate of what leads to drug trafficking is more answered and the correlation between drugs and criminal activity, violence, and urban robberies is substantiated comprehensively.

Singer’s studies, published in the American Anthropologists 1998 sought to identify urban crime and drugs in America. Singer identified longitudinally, the existence of moral panic in urban America because of drugs and crime in urban areas. The panic has led to a clamor for solutions to this problem. According to Singer, our friends, neighbors, and family are involved in crime, drugs, and violence (Singer, 1998). Urban areas provide ample and healthy places for breeding criminals. The social-economic needs of people living in these places provide opportunities for drug gangs to thrive since the consumption of drugs, mainly to suppress the pressing social-economic strains of urban dwellers. Inner cities are thriving with young drug consumers, both men, and women who are undergoing frustrating times. Drug uptake in urban areas, especially inner cities has been a breeding ground for drug traffickers who have demarcated inner cities into territories and protectorates. These territories are battlegrounds for violent crimes as drug gangs fight for market controls. Deaths and serious social problems have resulted from these eventualities.

Other gangs, in the event of such an eventuality, violent wars between the owners of the territory erupt, cannot infiltrate drug land protectorates. Gang members and their families, friends, and neighbors are compromised by such events. Deaths are reported and the society is broken by the clamor for drug land and control of these drug-prone urban areas. Studies by Huff show that crime recidivism, drug offenses, and violence are related to drug trafficking and in the continuum, drug abuse. According to Huff, these outcomes strongly suggest that this is evidence of a close relationship between drugs and violence in urban areas (Huff, 1996).

An almost cultural drug uptake in small urban centers has overtaken normal economic activities. However, Huff identified social-economic constraints as the main driver of drug abuse. Poverty due to lack of economic opportunities has made many desperate. Drugs provide a means of relief from the psychological battering such people go through. Drug trafficking became almost fashionable in the South, especially across Mexico, Colombia, and Jamaica. Many drug lords have thrived here and their tentacles are in urban America. The proliferation of illegal drugs in urban America has affected and transformed rural small-town communities into drug economies and zombie societies. Drugs are a powerful source of economic change for inner cities across America.

Users of these drugs are from different social-economic backgrounds. The uptake is routine and almost a cultural practice here. Those who control the trade shape the social politics of these urban settlements. Upon portioning of inner cities as drug markets, existing activities are dimmed with trafficking limiting economic development. Criminal activity, mainly robberies, murder, and turf wars. These routines change positive economic development as such constraining the lives of dwellers. This outcome increases despondency and reliance on drugs as a means of palpating the debilitating poverty and financial constrain people to face in these areas.

Methods of data collection to substantiate drugs in urban American the main source of social disparity vary. Empirical research has proved that drugs are now epidemics that have consumed society, especially the poor. From an ethnic context, many police officers interviewed project that, majority of drug traffickers and urban criminals are black Americans. Minorities follow and Whites are fewer in such statistical summaries. Previous research on ethnic social disparity shows that Whites stand in good stead to secure employment. The Whites have been well poised to excel both academically and in the employment sector in comparison to non Whites. However, racial discrimination has been cited as a contributor. The relationship between drug abuse and criminal behavior among minorities’ youths and young adults is evident but still needs to be investigated. The marginalization of non-whites is blamed on the high population in low-class urban estates. With minorities dwelling in these poor areas, it is correct to say that, lack of opportunities due to their ethnic background has forced them to venture into drugs both as a vice and as a source of income.

Longitudinal studies conducted to establish the structure of urban drug curtails and the social order in urban America proves reasonably, that, the proliferation of drugs in urban areas has been caused by dwindling opportunities for the young adults who are increasing in numbers. School leavers and college dropouts top the list of urban drug traffickers. Those arrested and served in jail are often released without any commitment to rehabilitate them in institutions that can empower them enough to make them socially economically able. This allows recidivism.


The rise in drug-related crimes has forced government institutions to seek urgent solutions to the drug problem in urban America. With recidivism becoming prevalent, efforts to rehabilitate abusers through drug courts have borne fruit, and the decline in urban drug abuse and trafficking is gradually going down. Conversely, drug courts provide solid drug offender rehabilitation for many communities that lack sufficient treatment and rehabilitative resources. Besides, drug courts provide the required leadership to avail support services to the community. Drug courts, through their judicial networks, have creatively innovated networks across the teams hence making access to services and support possible.

Research shows that people living a good life are less likely to abuse drugs. Those living a quality life think positively about themselves and their family. Those living a poor life are more likely to engage in drug abuse and subsequently engage in crime. Those jailed for drug-related crimes find themselves still actively involved in drug abuse and trafficking even while in jail. Access to these vices is made easier by overcrowding in prisons, which negatively affects offenders. Overcrowding provides a breeding space for more vice use adaptation and decline of moral construct in offenders. Poor conditions in prison are more likely to cause drug abuse and recidivism (Drago, Galbiati & Vertova, 2008). Earlier, we cited civil society dissonance on criminal justice system punitive measures.

Homelessness is a key cause of criminal behavior and drug abuse. Many who are disadvantaged use vices such as bhang to relieve themselves of suppressive feelings and self-pity. It depends on what one can afford to get drunk or high on drugs. Gendreau et al investigated how the community can check on criminals to improve their lives through sanctions and incarceration. Gendreau et al found out that, a community that sanctioned punitive measures for offenders has reduced criminal behavior and drug abuse (Gendreau et al, 2006). Moak, Lowry, and Webber suggest that more effort should be put to offer job training and job opportunities for ex-offenders. This will provide them with occupation to return to society (Moak, Lowry & Webber, 2007, p 20).

This perspective draws out poverty as the real culprit. Lack of opportunities to support families and one’s life remains an agent of crime and drug abuse. Continued suppression by the economy leads people to use crime as a way of making ends meet.

Studies about how good life inhibited drug use in towns show that the financial ability of many living in urban areas is subdued by the rising cost of living. The high cost of life is blamed for rising expenses in urban areas where everything has to be bought including essential services and products including food, water, electricity, and other forms of energy. Employment caps this, however, the opportunities available fail to provide these urban dwellers with enough revenue to meet rising costs of essential goods and services. Those earning low wages are more likely to use drugs. Blalock, McDaniel, and Farber argue that employment is associated with the completeness of life, especially, the overall quality of life (Blalock, McDaniel and Farber, 2002, p. 400-404).

They investigated employment association in its relation to the psychological functions of the individual (Blalock, McDaniel and Farber, 2002). Yet, Blalock, McDaniel, and Farber explain that previous longitudinal research projects that unemployed people demonstrated low levels of self-esteem. They argue that, unemployed report anxiety, depression, social isolation, and depression (Blalock, McDaniel, and Farber, 2002).

Stoneman and Anderson researched how employment favored quality life and their study revealed that the effects of social capital and aspects of quality of life were significant. Quality of life is described as a number of health problems and psychological well-being particularly in terms of sufficing fiscal ability, living conditions, basic amenities, and ownership of investments and properties.

This shows that success in life determines drug use across urban settlements in America. Statistical studies showed that many drug users were poor and came from similar backgrounds. The crime patterns have semblance in terms of cause and purpose. However, many drug traffickers have made significant amounts of money from the trade and may have adopted better lifestyles. Those on the bottom of the trafficking chain are the ones who continue to suffer as they succumb to drug problems, crime, and more poverty.

These disadvantaged urban dwellers end up becoming conduits for the traffickers. According to Howell and Decker formation of criminal gangs that use drug trafficking as a resource for survival is because of the lucrative nature of the trafficking and at the same time, the desire to live comfortably. Besides, youth gangs are popular across urban areas for their protectionist regimes. Howell and Decker argue that this popular image ties them directly to drugs and violent crime across urban areas.

Police statistics show a pattern of crime and drug trafficking taking shape. Youth gangs make use of drug trafficking opportunities as their main activity. They are able to control these activities and the trade itself regardless of the risks and implications on their siblings and friends. The interrelation between drugs and crime in urban areas is related as earlier suggested in the paper. Hypothetically, research and studies on drug patterns point to drug trafficking as the main cause of crime in urban youth gangs. However, investigations have proved that youth gangs engage in violent crimes, homicide, and robberies mainly to raise money to invest in drug trafficking.


Though the context of drugs in America does not focus only on drug trafficking and crime, these are the main areas of concern. Capping their existences would significantly reduce their influence in urban America. Efforts by government institutions have focused on rehabilitating traffickers to stop recidivism. Besides, the implication on society has caused a heavy fiscal burden to members of the society and the government. The gangs have compromised security in urban areas. Children are at risk of being recruited into traffickers and robbers (Singer, 1998). Though there are measures in place to reduce drugs in urban centers and settlements, more is needed to improve the lives of many living in these areas. The creation of equal opportunities, education, and law enforcement need to be used as key rehabilitative measures. Education will help educate many about the dangers of drugs as a means of edging out trafficker’s market share and gradually reducing drug uptake amongst urban communities.


  1. Blalock et al. (2002). Effect of Employment on Quality of Life and Psychological Functioning in Patients with HIV/AIDS. American Psychiatric Publishing Inc.
  2. Drago, Francesco, Galbiati, Roberto & Vertova, Pietro. (2008). Prison Conditions and Recidivism. IZA Discussion Paper Series. Web.
  3. Gendreau et al (2006). The Effects of Community Sanctions and Incarceration on Recidivism. Correctional Service of Canada.
  4. Howell, James, & Decker, Scott. (1999). The Youth gangs, drugs, and violence connection. Juvenile Justice Bulletin, 1(1), Web.
  5. Moak, Ryan, Lowry, Robert & Webber, Benjamin. (2007). A Study on the Causes of Recidivism in Massachusetts. Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
  6. Singer, Merill. (1998). Review: drugs, violence, and moral panic in urban America. American Anthropologist, 100(1), Web.

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