Choose a substance in the media that is being abused such as bath salts or synthetic marijuana. Conduct some independent research using the internet and library on the issues of substance abuse. Then write a 1-2 page paper that covers the following:
- Identify a substance in the media and provide some background on it such as use, users, effects, etc.
- Identify and examine the role that public health policy can play in addressing substance abuse.
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Synthetic Marijuana Abuse And Role of Public Health Policy in Addressing the Abuse
Among illicit drugs, marijuana is considered to be one of those with the least harmful health effects. However, synthetic marijuana, which is a group of manufactured drugs derived from pot’s cannabinoids, has become one of the severe health risks worldwide. Essentially, synthetic marijuana, also known as “Black Mamba,” “K2”, or “Fake Marijuana”, among others, is a type of synthetic cannabinoids produced in laboratories to function like THC, the element in marijuana that provides “high” sensation (Mills, Yepes & Nugent, 2015). In recent years, synthetic marijuana has become a menace and health risk in many parts all over the world.
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The chemicals found in synthetic marijuana are hard to detect during drug tests compared to marijuana. Synthetic marijuana was introduced in Europe and the U.S. in 2004 and 2008 respectively (Mills, Yepes & Nugent, 2015). However, chemicals used in the production of the drug were invented in the early 1990s for scientific researches and experiments (Mills, Yepes & Nugent, 2015). According to Mathews, Jeffries, Hsieh, Jones & Buckner (2019), in 2011,synthetic marijuana was listed as the most abused illicit drug among high school students, the first being marijuana. It is sold in gas stations, head shops, and on the internet where it is promoted as a “safe” and legal alternative to marijuana (Mathews et al., 2019). In this regard, most users of synthetic marijuana are teenagers and young adults who believe the drug is safer than marijuana (Mathews et al., 2019). Similarly to marijuana, synthetic marijuana is used with the aim of getting “high.” However, its effects are worse than marijuana’s as its abuse leads to horrifying effects like nausea, vomiting, agitation, seizures, and unusual heartbeat, among others (Mathews et al., 2019). In this regard, the public health sector has a huge role to play as far as fighting substance abuse of drugs like synthetic marijuana is concerned.
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Over the years, the public health sector has made several attempts to address substance abuse. However, most of their effective health policies have failed due to outdated drug laws, negative attitudes, and stigma. In most cases, treatment of substance users is never available due to high costs and lack of proper mechanisms in the public health sector. More so, the tendency to fight substance abuse by use of criminal justice systems has limited the role of public health (Leukefeld, & Gullotta (Eds), 2018).
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In this light, some of the public health policies that can help address substance use include: ending the criminalization of drugs and drug users, improving researches on causes of drug abuse, reducing violence and discrimination of drug users, increased funding on programs aimed at curbing substance use, and expanding treatment and harm reduction services, among others (Leukefeld, & Gullotta (Eds), 2018). Subsequently, the public health sector with collaboration with federal and state governments has a lot to do to curb substance abuse.
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