The author proves that the prevalence of drug abuse among youth takes place according to the social epidemics’ model. The classical theory of social epidemics’ is represented by the concept of group mind (Tarde) and the theory of differential association (Sutherland, Kessy). A new concept of social epidemics’ based on the network approach has recently been introduced by American researchers (Gladwell, Christakis and Fowler). In the present article the author emphasizes that there are “primary” and “secondary” types of drugs epidemics. Whereas “primary” epidemic is a typical socio-psychological outbreak based on the fact of “getting infected” by the idea of drugs’ importance in order to maintain a certain life style, it is suggested in the article that the “primary” epidemic is triggered by fashion for drugs. “Secondary”, or medical epidemic is a common drug abuse associated with the primary epidemics via statistical and genetic factors.
The author analyzes the so-called “anti-epidemic period” (the end of 19th until the second half of 20th century) concluding that only in 1960’s there were enough prerequisites for mass drug abuse epidemic’s in the Western countries. As for the post-Soviet countries, similar conditions have been developed in the second half of the 1980’s. Since then there has been a steady increase in drug addiction among youth. Epidemics have a sigma-like character. Sociological research in the end of 1990’s recorded increased number of those, who have tried once or more different kinds of drugs in their lifetime. The main explanation of “primary” epidemics consists in the fashion for drugs and more materialistic factors, such as drug trafficking carried out by the criminal underworld and supported by corrupt police officials. However, fashion itself is a volatile and irrational factor that tends to shift.
Therefore, there has been a decrease in drug use among young people starting from 2000’s. The “turning point” happens when influential agents that hold positions of responsibility in social networks introduce different fashion, customs, and a different life style. The latter should be considered by policy makers in the area of drugs prevention.
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