Rising Crime & Incarceration of African-American Youths: Substance Use & Abuse Linked - Essay Sample

Published: 2023-09-12
Rising Crime & Incarceration of African-American Youths: Substance Use & Abuse Linked - Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Abuse Criminal law Substance abuse
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1719 words
15 min read


The rate of crime and incarceration of African-American youths has been on the rise since the 1970s. The incarceration rates of blacks grew by up to 500% between 1986 and 2004 (Mukku et al., 2012). Studies have continued to find correlations between drug and substance abuse and the likelihood of individuals being incarcerated. For instance, several studies posit that up to 80% of incarcerated adult individuals in America have a history of substance use and abuse (Mukku et al., 2012; Stevens-Watkins, 2018). Furthermore, the costs for incarcerating individuals with substance-related cases has risen considerably since the 1980s (Mukku et al., 2012). The minority racial groups in America appear to be at a higher risk of suffering from substance abuse disorders (SUDs). The adult black community, for instance, has a heightened chance of committing drug-related crimes, engaging in drug dealing, and traffic offenses. This analysis thereby focuses on the pertinent factors that expose the African-American community to such drug addiction and drug-related criminal tendencies. A brief history of substance abuse is uncovered, and current consequences of drug abuse are analyzed. The author also investigates the probable resolutions and spiritual convictions that may minimize the tendencies to use drugs and mediation efforts for people with SUD.

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Cultural Awareness

African American culture

The African-American culture continues to play a pervasive role in the transformation of mainstream US popular culture. While the anthropological treasures of the black people in America continued to run parallel to the European cultures since the middle passage, these cultural traits began to gain attention in mainstream American culture since emancipation and the end of the segregation era. In modern US culture, the Black culture has been accepted in the mainstream. This acceptance of such a minority culture into the mainstream results mainly from the adequate presence of blacks in sports and popular music scenes. Since the middle of the 20th Century, the Black Community began to increase their presence in mainstream media coverage. Such coverage started to portray the black athletes, activists, and musicians as equals with their white counterparts. As the American populous continued to express interest in Black Culture, the culture itself continued to experience transformations through research, education, migration, and cultural exchanges. However, as the black folk continued to move northwards into the cities, their colleagues who stayed in the south expressed fears of the erosion of the African heritage that defined the former slaves. Despite a close interest by the southern anthropologists on the loss of black culture through modernity and migration, most analysts moved to dispel such fears. They, instead, argued that the black culture was evolving and becoming recreated in different regions.

Some of the noteworthy strides in African-American culture include the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and the Black Power Movement of the 1960s (Ogbu, 2004). Black art movements and black power encouraged racial pride and cohesion with a view of increasing the literary, political, and artistic conscience of the blacks. In the same period, the music culture of the Black community was beginning to flourish. Various sub-genres of hip-hop music dominate the contemporary music scene. This music genre was inspired in the black neighborhoods and such traditional genres like funk and jazz. Hip-hop culture encouraged self-expression among blacks through paintings, poetry, and rap. However, the mainstream media in America was expressing reservations for what looked like a glorification of drug use, violence, and inappropriate sexual conduct.

Since the invention of hip-hop, and through the systemic restructuring of the substance use laws, the population of African-Americans incarcerated for drug use and dealings rose astronomically. The increase in incarceration rates in black neighborhoods led to a concurrent rise in crime and gang activities. In the following sections, the author analyses the popular theories around the increase in incarceration rates in black communities, especially from the Ronald Reagan era.

Subgroups of African Americans

The demographic groups in the African-American cultural experience discrimination and diversity differently. The majority of the black male population are often stereotypically construed to be spendthrift athletes, entertainment celebrities, backward and treacherous drug dealers or criminals with continuous run-ins with law enforcement agencies. Such stereotypes have been propagated through the various strands of society since emancipation (Ogbu, 2004). As such, the black community often experience the most intense negative impacts of systemic discrimination that appears to replicate the segregation ages of the late 19th Century and early 20th. As already stated at the beginning of this text, the rates of drug-related incarcerations of black men have increased astronomically in the last two decades. Most employees of law enforcement, thereby, keep the stereotypes of the black "substance abuser" when dealing with all black men in policing situations.

The black American women have, on the other hand, continued to experience composite cases of systemic discrimination and societal objectification. In the contemporary black culture (art and music), women are often portrayed as complete dependents on men's success. They are, furthermore, portrayed as overtly sexual beings who are often dependent on extravagant athletes wishing to spend money. Over-sexualization of the women and the portrayal of men as criminals are endorsed in popular culture, including in films and television. As a result, the system continues to handle the black community as reckless and backward. The portrayal of the backwardness of the blacks thereby serves to justify the notions that they are less intelligent and predisposed to experience drug addiction and incarceration at some point in their lives. Furthermore, the use of drugs and substances among African-American women currently stands above the national average (Stevens-Watkins et al., 2016)

Contributing Factors

The Crack Epidemic

While several other generational paradigms can serve in explaining the increased drug addiction and drug dealing among the African-Americans, none covers the immorality like the infamous Crack Epidemic (Montgomery, Zapolski, Banks, & Floyd, 2019). At the beginning of the 1980s, there was an unexplainable rise in cocaine (crack) use in the inner cities and especially the black neighborhoods. Crack was, however, an adulterated and highly addictive version of cocaine. Analysts claim that the quality of the crack cocaine was much lower than ordinary cocaine. The inner-city black population was thereby highly exposed to crack consumption, increasing the number of cocaine users by up to 1.6million people in 3 years. This rise in crack users led to a corresponding increase in drug-related deaths, crimes, incarceration, and substance addiction disorders. In what is currently termed as "Reaganomics," crack cocaine is theorized to have reached the black neighborhoods through legislations under the Ronald Reagan era to push manufacturing companies outside the cities (Mukku et al., Bailey, 2012). With the rising use of crack in the African-American neighborhoods, the government decided to enforce stricter laws around the use of crack. Such laws led to the mass incarceration of black men and women on drug-related charges.

Family History, Available Support and John Henryism active coping

Overall, a family history (FH) of substance abuse increases the chances of an individual using drugs (Stevens-Watkins, 2016). The offspring born to a drug use disorder often subscribes to the notion that the vice runs through their family tree. Studies of various minorities further claim that the dependence on alcoholism, for instance, increased significantly through successive generations (Chartier, Thomas, & Kendler, 2016). Such familial alcoholism is, moreover, higher in women than in men. In the inner cities, such an FH predisposition to experience alcoholism and drug abuse is worsened by higher-order environmental factors. The children in such black neighborhoods are thereby at an increased risk of falling into the substance abuse from a combination of family factors and peer influence factors (Singer, 2005).

As proposed by the John Henryism active coping mechanism, African Americans are always convinced of their capabilities to cope with the drug-related adversities. This belief in individual self-determination comes despite the psychosocial stressors and limited resources for the coping process. Studies reveal that these coping methodologies could prove problematic if the individuals lack the required resources. Individuals in the African-American communities report positive outcomes on treatment for abuse when they are on probation, have kids, or have a family history of substance abuse (Stevens-Watkins et al., 2016).

Counseling Approach

Studies indicate a depressed figure on the recovery of drug addicts in the African-American community compared to the European-Americans (Bowser & Bilal, 2001). Despite the increasing number of substance abuse disorders among blacks, recovery, and treatment has continued to report unsatisfactory results. Bowser & Bilal (2001) suggested that such suppressed figures on recoveries could be caused by a general failure of the recovery services providers to address race as a cultural occurrence rather than merely a physical one. The traditional coping strategies are, for instance, shown to still exist despite the counterproductive results they display in the recovery processes. During counseling, strategies must thereby be adopted that aim to overcome the historical approaches to overcoming abuse.

The counseling sessions at drug withdrawal must include therapy sessions that are relevant to the cultural settings (Stevens-Watkins, 2018). A therapy approach shall be described briefly in this analysis, which the author believes can be used in addressing the African-American settings. Alongside the therapy sessions, efforts are made to assist addicts to withdraw from addiction through such approaches as a detox physically. The detox will assist the victim in preventing the drug cravings and handling withdrawal. Additionally, the counseling process must involve a holistic, trusting, and collaborative environment and constructive feedback. Behavior regulation and reality testing approach also assists in long-term behavioral change.

Evidence-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been proven to treat various scenarios involving substance abuse disorders in diverse communities. Despite initially showing results in predominantly white SUB cases, the approach has been researched with the minority racial settings. The results of these studies indicate that the CBT method can be useful in treating mental health conditions that arise from SUB (Mukku et al., 2012). Obsessive-compulsive behavior, anxiety, and depression can then be handled successfully as causative factors for drug abuse among the traditionally emotionally reserved individuals.

While using the CBT approach to counsel the African-American individuals, efforts must be made to develop a positive racial identity (Fudge, 1996). As discussed earlier, the Community members developed a feeling of segregation and discrimination from Ronald Reagan's economic policies. Such policies led to the rise in the crack epidemic that left the community on the sidelines of the mainstream economy.

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Rising Crime & Incarceration of African-American Youths: Substance Use & Abuse Linked - Essay Sample. (2023, Sep 12). Retrieved from https://speedypaper.com/essays/rising-crime-incarceration-of-african-american-youths-substance-use-abuse-linked

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