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SOC 1150 Unit 2 Assignment Learning to Use Your Sociological Imagination


The issue of substance use and abuse in the United States is a significant concern that continues to grow. Rising rates of substance use contribute to increased deaths and illnesses across the country (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2022). 

In this essay, I will explore the perspective that substance use and addiction should be viewed as personal problems rather than solely societal issues. Furthermore, I will discuss the application of the sociological imagination in connecting substance use and addiction to broader societal concerns and the impact of these issues on professionals in substance abuse treatment. SOC 1150 Unit 2 Assignment Learning to Use Your Sociological Imagination

Individual Problem?

Substance use and addiction are often perceived as personal problems. While the decision to use and abuse substances is indeed a personal choice, it is influenced by various factors such as genetics, family environment, peer influence, community interactions, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, racial background, and many others. 

Some argue that individuals consciously choose to use prescription or illicit substances or alcohol; thus, the problem is solely caused by their actions. Others consider the harm inflicted upon oneself and one’s family while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and the adverse effects on the community. A single person’s substance use can result in emotional damage, broken relationships, family instability, financial burdens, and a negative impact on their children.

Connection to a Larger Issue

To gain a deeper understanding of substance use and addiction, applying sociological imagination is crucial in exploring the societal factors contributing to substance consumption. Sociological imagination, as proposed by C. Wright Mills, urges us to consider the more significant societal problems that impact an individual’s circumstances rather than merely focusing on their issues (Mills, 1959).

SOC 1150 Unit 2 Assignment Learning to Use Your Sociological Imagination

As mentioned earlier, numerous factors beyond an individual’s control influence substance use and abuse. For instance, if individuals are raised in an environment where substance use is normalized and encouraged, they are more likely to perpetuate these generational habits. 

Socioeconomic status is also correlated with increased substance use, with higher rates observed among impoverished individuals and those from affluent families with greater access to resources. Communities characterized by high poverty rates and prevalent substance use exert a significant influence, leading to a higher prevalence of substance use within those communities. 

Moreover, individuals who have experienced trauma, prejudice, discrimination, racial minorities, LGBTQ+ individuals, or those with mental illnesses are at a heightened risk of substance use and abuse (Andersen, 2019; Daley, 2013). Societal norms and cultural influences also influence endorsing or accepting substance use. 

For example, alcohol is legal and widely accepted in social settings. Additionally, the fear of legal consequences (such as imprisonment, loss of custody, or loss of licensure) and society’s stigmatization of addiction contribute to shame and hinder individuals from seeking help (NCDAS, 2023). SOC 1150 Unit 2 Assignment Learning to Use Your Sociological Imagination

Impact on the Field

Many professionals in substance abuse treatment know the social problems contributing to substance use’s prevalence. The societal issues mentioned earlier, along with limited access to healthcare and affordability of treatment, create barriers that prevent people from receiving the help they need. 

Employing sociological imagination within the field can facilitate a better understanding of community needs, the underlying causes of substance use in a particular area, and practical strategies for intervention. Professionals can provide more effective support and assistance by addressing these community needs and combating the stigma surrounding substance use problems.

Summary and Conclusion

Sociological imagination encourages us to delve deeper and adopt alternative perspectives. Recognizing that social influences impact all aspects of life, including substance use and addiction, prompts us to question societal dynamics and identify necessary changes to benefit those affected by these issues. Substance use and addiction are influenced by societal and community factors, which, until acknowledged and addressed, will perpetuate the persistence of these problems. SOC 1150 Unit 2 Assignment Learning to Use Your Sociological Imagination


Andersen, M. L. (2019). Sociology: The Essentials (10th ed.). Cengage Learning. Retrieved from


Daley, D. C. (2013). Family and social aspects of substance use disorders and treatment. Journal of Food and Drug Analysis21(4), S73–S76.


Mills, C. W. (1959). The Sociological Imagination. New York: Oxford University Press.

NCDAS. (2023). Substance abuse and addiction statistics [2023]. Retrieved from


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2022). Addiction and health. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from


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