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Hate Being Sober: Why African Americans Experience Substance Abuse in Their Community

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Tune onto Hot 107. 5 FM and listen carefully. Count how many times a song played on this radio station references drugs? What race is typically known for listening to drug infested hip hop music? African Americans. Media is just the beginning of our war on drugs in my community. How can one express the negative effects of drugs when the media portrays a different image? I believe my African American peers are ignorant when it comes to the effects of abusing substances. In my clique I am the only one who chooses not to smoke marijuana, pop pills, or drink lean. 1 out of 3 of my friends who smoke marijuana, pop a percocet, molly, or xanax, or consume codeine have untreated mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or bipolar disorder. How are drugs affecting the African American population financially, physically, and mentally?

From my own drug experience, I have noticed a change in my behavior after smoking medical marijuana at least three or four times a week. Many of my peers smoke three times a day; in the morning, afternoon, and before bed. There is a big percentage of my peers who started smoking marijuana in middle school. In eighth grade, my middle school had a drug raid because of selling, smoking, and consuming marijuana on school property. Does drugs decrease or increase stress, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental illnesses? I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and moderate depression as senior in high school at seventeen years old. I have noticed some changes with my mental health after smoking marijuana more than once a month such as a slower response time, anxiety levels through the roof, and not as talkative as I was in high school. One of the major changes I have noticed is that I am not able to handle stress well without wanting to self medicate with medical marijuana. The slightest strand of stress yearns me to light up the next cone. Having a family history of addiction and mental health is a huge component of your tolerance for drugs and alcohol. Being related to others who have developed an addiction and having experienced mental health disorder yourself is highly likely that you can develop an addictive personality. Contributions to having an addictive personality can be a combination of family history, genetics, and environment (community, friends, etc). My tolerance for alcohol and marijuana is extremely high because of my families history of addiction and mental illness. Looking at the demographics of an African American community such as Detroit, Michigan you will see a liquor store on every corner and at least one dispensary on each street. If you were to travel northwest to Bloomfield Hills, Michigan you would not find half of the liquor stores or dispensaries you would see in Detroit. Why are most dispensaries in the urban cities? African Americans have more access to drugs because dispensaries are your neighbors. Gaining my medical marijuana card was an easier process than registering to vote. Majority of my male peers have been in possession of illegal drugs and sold them to more people. My community does not know the signs of substance abuse because it is considered the norm to drink lean every weekend, take a percocet, and smoke marijuana. If you do not ride the alcohol and marijuana wave then you are considered lame. Even though you were taught to say no to drugs that is not what kids are learning from their peers or the media in today’s society. If you claim to be addicted to marijuana my community would find it hysterical. “It is all in your head, you can not be addicted to marijuana. ” This false claim has been floating around generations before I was born. Too much of anything can be unhealthy. The usage of marijuana is connected with dependence in which someone experiences symptoms of withdrawal when not using. This turns into addiction when it interferes with your daily activities such as work, school, eating, and sleeping. I am deeply invested into finding the answers to my questions because I am truly worried about my friends and family who continue consume drugs on a daily basis.

I have been researching about the effects of marijuana for a two months now. Ever since I had a couple of bad experiences smoking marijuana I have been on a venture to learn more about its connection to mental illnesses, gum disease, bipolar disorder, and etc. Sadly, there is not a lot of research on marijuana’s effect on your mind and your body. This actually scares me because as Americans begin to vote on legalizing recreational marijuana in the upcoming election on November 6th, 2018 we do not understand what it is truly doing to our mind and body. States such as California, Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont including city Washington D. C. have legalized recreational marijuana. Nine states have legalized a substance that has not been tested on human subjects to see benefits or detriments. However, I have found a plethora of articles on a broader search which is substance abuse as a whole. Initially, I wanted to focus on marijuana’s effect in the African American community but there were slim resources on one particular drug. To reach the meat and the potatoes of research you had to search substance abuse as the topic instead of marijuana. Since there are not many scholarly articles or books on the effects of marijuana floating around in the Wayne State University library I chose to use the Internet as my only source for information. There were pro and cons for using only the Internet because even though I could find resources about substance abuse/marijuana use, the information given could be flawed with little truth to it. The first secondary source made it into my I- Search Essay when I searched “What are the effects of substance abuse in the African American community?” into my Google search engine. This article focuses on the causes of substance abuse including multiple stress factors that are prominent in African Americans. Emily Guarnotta identifies the variety of drugs that are widely used in the community. She forgets to mention the use of pills such as percocet, molly, xanax, or codeine known as Lean. Guarnotta shows the symptoms of addiction and how African Americans are affected by drug abuse short and long-term. The most beneficial part of the article is about how to seek and pay for treatment, barriers African Americans face when seeking treatment, and aftercare being a vital component of recovery. This source was the holy grail for my research questions. It helped me identify those who have substance abuse which is gigantic for my I-Search essay and for my personal knowledge. The second secondary article I chose explains the short and long-term effects of marijuana. This article explains my initial research question about how marijuana affects African Americans physically, mentally, and emotionally. It is stated that nine percent of adults and seventeen percent of young adults can become addicted smoking marijuana which would be a long-term effect afflicted on the African American population. This source helped me build on knowledge that I have found in my the other sources while answering multiple questions. As I explained earlier there is not a lot of articles on marijuana especially when considering how it affects mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, and etc. I narrowed down my search to one mental illness; anxiety.

“Does anxiety increase or decrease when consuming marijuana?” In this article written by Micah Abraham, it suggests that there is more evidence on marijuana causing anxiety then its ability to help treat it. Abraham continues to state that drugs can cause different reactions in different people which I learned the hard way. One person can feel relaxed while others can experience paranoia and high levels and of anxiety. The effects of anxiety change varies from the type of anxiety you exhibit; generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety, specific phobias, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Abraham expresses that CBD has more mental health benefits than THC. Cannabidiol (CBD) that is found in extractions in the hemp plant is a non psychoactive compound unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is the main compound of marijuana. He claims that eliminating the psychoactive compound THC and replacing it with CBD should be helpful to someone who has a mental illness that wants the benefits of cannabis without the mental setbacks. This source resonates with my I-Search essay because it expresses a link between anxiety and marijuana usage.

In conclusion, I understand why African Americans are most likely to experience substance abuse in their community. African Americans that have untreated mental illnesses use drugs to cope with their illnesses as way to self-medicate. Examples of how this population is affected by marijuana mentally and physically is by lung cancer (because of the usage of tobacco products used to smoke marijuana), low birth weight & cognitive delays in children, mental illnesses; depression, anxiety, and psychosis, relationship problems (domestic violence), a potential development of opiate abuse, etc. Financially, there is no way to accurately know how much African Americans spend on marijuana because most of the sales are illegal. The media’s image on drugs is not abnormal because drugs sell. Drugs are continuously sold whether it is illegal or legal and all the media cares about is sales. Granted, there is not an immense amount of research and studies on marijuana’s benefits and disadvantages with mental health, they are many claims that CBD is more acceptable than THC. I have learned that marijuana can affect everyone differently. I realize why there is not enormous amount of research about marijuana; it has too many changing variables to pinpoint an accurate single claim.

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Hate Being Sober: Why African Americans Experience Substance Abuse in Their Community. (2020, April 30). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 24, 2021, from
“Hate Being Sober: Why African Americans Experience Substance Abuse in Their Community.” GradesFixer, 30 Apr. 2020,
Hate Being Sober: Why African Americans Experience Substance Abuse in Their Community. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 Oct. 2021].
Hate Being Sober: Why African Americans Experience Substance Abuse in Their Community [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Apr 30 [cited 2021 Oct 24]. Available from:
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