Causes of drug addiction among Shahjalal University Students : Bangladesh


A research paper based on-“Causes of drug addiction among SUST

Author : Ahmed Al Shahriar
Submission Date: 25th February, 2018.
Department of Sociology.
Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet.

Drug addiction in Bangladesh


Drug addiction is a provocative topic for the people of our country. One of the biggest problems in society today is drug abuse by the university students. It destroys families and relationships. Essentially, drug are a pain killer.

They may seem to avert emotional and physical pain by providing the user with a temporary and illusionary escape from or way to cope with life’s realities.

There may be various reasons for a student to take drug; Curiosity and a tendency to experiment with. It may be an expression of his revolt against established authority, a way of gaining recognition in his group or influence of friends.

She/he may just not be able to say “no” when offered or because of failure in love affairs or family problem. Functionalists argue that society provides us with norms or guidelines on alcohol and drug use.

A set of social norms identify the appropriate use of drugs and alcohol. Drugs, prescription drugs in particular, are very functional. They alleviate pain, reduce fevers, and curb infections. Alcohol in moderation may be routinely consumed with meals, for celebration, or for health benefits.

At least one glass of red wine a day has been shown to reduce one’s risk of heart disease. Drug abuse can also occur when society is unable to provide guidelines for our behavior.

To explain drug abuse, functionalists rely on Emile Durkheim’s theory of anomie. Durkheim believed that under conditions of rapid cultural change, there would be an absence of common social norms and controls, a state he called anomie.

If people lack norms to control their behavior, they are likely to pursue self-destructive behaviors like alcohol abuse, he thought (Caetano, Clark, and Tam 1998). The present study was conducted to get an idea of drug addiction among the students of SUST.

Researcher also exposed the causes of drug addiction, types of drugs they mainly used and their intention to quit drug abuse.


The objective of this study are –


To find out the causes of drug addiction among SUST students.


• To know the types of drug they take.
• To find out the sources of drugs where they get these from.
• To know the degree and frequency of drug abuse.
• To know the effect of drug abuse on their study.



The data of this research is collected from SUST campus.
Researcher used purposive sampling to select first respondent.
Researcher has used snowball sampling method for selecting
Rest of the respondents.

Measuring Instrument:

Researcher collects the data from the study area
By conducting in-depth interviews. Guide questions were formed mainly
based on how they got addicted to drug, what types of drug s/he tried out,
effects on study etc.


To gain the primary data, researcher went through different
Academic building at the SUST campus including student’s hall.
Researcher interviewed the respondents and maintained respondent

Literature Review:

Sociologists Edwin Sutherland and Howard Becker state that deviant behavior, such as drug abuse, is learned through others. Sutherland (1939) proposed the theory of differential association to explain how we learn specific behaviors and norms from the groups we have contact with.

Deviance, explained Sutherland, is learned from people who engage in deviant behavior. In his study, “Becoming a Marijuana User,” Becker (1963) demonstrated how a novice user is introduced to smoking marijuana by more experienced users. Learning is the key in Becker’s study:

No one becomes a user without (1) learning to smoke the drug in a way which will produce real effects; (2) learning to recognize the effects and connect them with drug use . . . ; and (3) learning to enjoy the sensations he perceives. (P. 58)

Merton (1910) believed that society provides individuals with life goals, such as earning money, having children and getting married.

However, unlike the notion of the American Dream, where it is believed that everyone has a chance of achieving their life goals, he argued that during times of social change people may commit deviant acts if they may feel a strain between the goals set by society and experience pressure in how to achieve them.

Merton divided his theory into five categories:
• Conformists: these are people who have invested in the American Dream, worked towards their education and are in employment.

• Ritualists: these are people who do not aspire to society’s goals but accept the means of achieving them, so they go to work and ‘do the job’ but may not want career success such as promotions.

• Innovators: these are people who are seen as criminals who support the goals of society (i.e., earn money, have children and so on), but may use criminal means to achieve them.

• Retreatists: these reject society’s goals and may be seen as dropouts e.g., alcoholics, drug addicts.

• Rebels: these create alternative goals to those prescribed by society and may seek a counterculture. Terrorists or revolutionaries would fit in this category.

So according to Merton’s theory drug addicts can be categorized as retreatists as they reject culturally prescribed goals and adapt conventional means for attaining them.

Madan (1969) has stated that alcoholism and drug addiction are harmful not only for the individual but also for his family and the society at large. There is a well-known proverb “Once a drinker always a drinker”. The truth is that all hard drinkers start with moderate drinking and gradually increase the quantity to become addicts.

Hiramani and Sharma (1988) has given three interpretations for the use of drugs: One school interprets it as ‘anti-social behavior’ calling for suppressive measures against the 43users branded as ‘deviants’; the other school views the issue as one of ‘personal maladjustment of troubled individuals’ requiring medical or psychiatric treatment; and the third school considers the use of drugs as the end-product of functioning of social and cultural sub-systems that produce status problems and interest conflicts.

Sani (2010) conducted a research titled “Drug addiction among undergraduate student of private universities in Bangladesh.” The data of her research was collected from private universities in Dhaka city. Researcher used random number sampling to select private universities. Researcher has used purposive sampling method for selecting the drug addicted people.

The findings was that 66.87% respondents have tried drugs occasionally and 33.13% respondents have tried drug frequently. From 160 respondents, 15.62% got addicted cause of trying to forget family problems, 38.75% respondents got addicted cause of influence by friends and rest of all tried something new.

The type of drugs were phyathaddrin, phencyclidine, heroin, charas, marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine etc.

Data Collection:
The study was conducted using In-depth interview method. Researcher selected 7 respondents to take interviews. Respondents were asked several questions and their answer was recorded by mobile recording and then transcribed into written for. Guide questions for in-depth interviews were:

• How old were you when you first started using drugs?
• How were you introduced to drugs?
• What was the first drug you use? Which drug you eventually end up addicted to?
• How long are you on drugs?
• What was it that made you want to keep taking the drugs?
• Where do you get the drugs from? What are the risk involved collecting those drug?
• Do you take drugs frequently and how much your daily intake is?
• How these drug effect your study?
• Are you willing to quit?

Major findings:

Among 7 respondents 6 were male and 1 female. 3 of them were from Sociology department, and rest of all were from political studies, public administration and physics department. The major findings are presented below-

1. Starting stage of taking drugs:

Among 7 respondents, 6 of them were addicted to drugs after getting admitted to university. Only 1 of got addicted when he was at the age of 17, before getting admission at SUST.

2. Types of drugs the addicted respondents mainly use:

All the 7 respondents tried out marijuana.2 of them also tried alcohol, 3 of them tried yaba pills and 1 of them tried dandy along with marijuana and alcohol.

3. The degree and frequency of taking drugs:

2 of the respondents take drugs at regular bases and rest of all said that they take drug occasionally. When they were asked how much you take in a day, they replied that it varies. Marijuana users said that they take only 1 stick in a day.

4. The causes of drug addiction:

Among 7 of them, 2 said they are taking drugs because of extreme stress and pressure. 1 said because of failure in love affairs h/she got addicted. 3 yaba abusers said that they have to study whole night when there is exam; that’s why they take pills, as yaba pills help them to stay awake for a long time with a fresh mood.

5. How drugs effect their study:

The yaba abusers said drug effects their study in a positive way. They can stay awake and get prepared for the examination very well. They don’t forget what they learn those nights. Marijuana abusers said they don’t see any negative effect of marijuana on their study, it helps them concentrate more and keeps them more attentive.

Alcoholic respondent replied in a negative way. Alcohol intake hampers his study, as it hampers his health that’s why he is trying to get rid of alcohol. He informed researcher that he took dandy only once. He got a dirty feeling when he took it. He added that dandy is a very new introduced drug for the addicted students of SUST.

6. Sources of drugs:

Respondents informed that they get marijuana and alcohol from ragib rabeya tea state. Those drugs are supplied by the tea workers. They have also agent at varsity gate, they just need to call them and the agents comes to them with ordered drugs.

Kashtoghor at Bondor bazar also a major source of drugs as the respondent informed.

7. Willingness of the respondents to quit drug abuse:

When researcher asked them if they want to quit drug abuse, 5 of the respondents replied that they already reduced taking drugs at regular bases, they occasionally take these. 1 of them told h/she already quit taking drugs and the last one informed that h/she wants to quit but not being able to because it has become a habit to him/her.

Discussions & Conclusion:

The research is mainly based on drug addiction among the students of SUST. If we analyze the above findings, we can reach to a conclusion that because of the availability of drugs, SUST students are becoming addicted to drug.

They get drug in their hands very easily and rapidly when they need these. After getting admitted to university, they first introduced to drug by the seniors of their department or SUST hall. Marijuana is not taken lonely, rather they create a circle of students and take marijuana in a group.

If we elaborate this using Sutherland’s “Differential association theory”, we can say that this deviant behavior is learned through social interaction and communication.

Sutherland argues that most learning of crime and deviance takes place in interaction with
members of intimate, personal groups, and that methods of impersonal communication – such as television, films or newspapers – are less influential or effective in learning; (Sutherland & Cressey, 123). The research finding reflects the theory of differential association.

We can also explain with Durkheim’s argument, “If people lack norms to control their behavior, they are likely to pursue self-destructive behaviors like alcohol abuse, he thought”; (Caetano, Clark, and Tam 1998).

Though respondent denied the negative effect of drugs on their study, but they said when the impact period finishes their body becomes very weak and they become short tempered. In the long run they suffer. Marijuana has never reportedly caused an overdose death, but that doesn’t mean it’s harmless.

“The main risk of cannabis is losing control of your cannabis intake,” Mark Kleiman, a drug policy expert at New York University’s Marron Institute, said. “That’s going to have consequences in terms of the amount of time you spend not fully functional. When that’s hours per day times years, that’s bad.”

Alcohol is also capable of making people more aggressive and violent, potentially leading to more violent crime. In terms of health risks, alcohol can lead to extensive organ damage, especially to the liver. These problems are most prominent among heavy drinkers, but can occur among lighter drinkers who consistently consume alcohol over long periods of time.

Alcohol can also heighten the dangers of other drugs. It can further increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke when mixed with cocaine. It can enhance the effects of opioid-based painkillers, raising the chance of overdose.

And it can interact with antidepressants to severely hinder a person’s reflexes. The initial decision to take drugs is typically voluntary.

However, with continued use, a person’s ability to exert self-control can become seriously impaired; this impairment in self-control is the hallmark of addiction. Brain imaging studies of people with addiction show physical changes in areas of the brain that are critical to judgment, decision making, learning and memory, and behavior control.

Scientists believe that these changes alter the way the brain works and may help explain the compulsive and destructive behaviors of addiction.

In Bangladesh it has been a controversial issue and now it is becoming an intolerable issue. So, whole nation should come forward to take some measures, as a community. Governmental regulation and legislation should be introduced to drug dealers, suppliers and also to the users.

Family restrictions should be there for students. They should be provided a restricted pocket money and stop them to go anywhere as they wish. Parents should monitor their friendship. Most of the drugs came in our country in an illegal way. So if our police and army get alert, we can reduce drug addiction.

In this research there are some limitations like in the eye of Bangladesh’s culture, drug addicted are treated like criminal. So, addicted are very much disappointed and they were not interested to talk with the researcher. It was very difficult for researcher to get that much information that he needed.


1. Becker, Howard. 1963. Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance. New York: Free Press.
2. Cepulkauskaite, I. (1998). Addiction of Teenagers: Myth or Reality? Drug Addiction and Prevention College Essay, 141-160.
7. Sutherland, Edwin. 1939. Principles of Criminology, 3d ed. Philadelphia, PA: J. B. Lippincott.
8. Sani, M. (2010). Drug addiction among undergraduate students of private universities in Bangladesh, Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, Volume 5, 2010, Pages 498-501.
9. Zaman, M. (2015) Drug abuse among the students, Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, Volume 1, Issue 1


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