According to media surveys that indicates the acceptance and use of marijuana at an all-time high; Howard Becker’s article on becoming a marijuana user has played a vital role in assisting the readers to understand dynamics in social psychology that promotes the possibility of this development (Becker 237). On the other hand, Becker sees the popularization of marijuana as a textbook example of the reality’s social production of how our lives are shaped by the words and actions. There is a reason for one to wonder how John Doe started using marijuana, however, according to Becker, the use of marijuana is not a genetic issue but rather an influence from the social context.
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The taste and smell of marijuana might be irritating to John Doe, and this made him to nickname it weed. The first taste seemed to be so unpleasant that Joe swore never to use it again. However, his friends are enjoying the same stuff claiming that it tastes and also smells good. John continues using and tasting it despite of a bad taste and smell it has, this is the result of friend’s encouragement. Finally, John agrees with them (Becker 239). The writer tries to explain how John’s aversion or dislike to marijuana taste is overcome by the significant friends coming around him and telling they like it. Therefore, he will get used to it and like it too when he keeps using it.
Becker (240) asserts that John’s reality is changed, with his friends’ help; however, the virtue of becoming an addicted marijuana user may not be as easy as seen. Also, John may opt to leave the party and go for weeks and days with no thought of using marijuana and intent on not using it ever again. He is still capable of living without marijuana.
According to Becker (240), to change the game, might be the interaction with his old friends who are having a vested interest in it and also enjoy the use of the drug. The friends will also ensure that John Doe redefine reality by encouraging him to try it again, until he enjoys it. In other words, John tried to break out and also get free, even if he was successful only for a short time, he is overcome by friends he claims to care about. Moreover, he cares most about them coming around him and continuing to encourage John to shade his reality and adapt to their instead.
It will be the end of his story if he values his friendship with these people enough, except, the harm he may undergo as a result of the habit he will develop. He states that it will not be only about the marijuana use (Becker 241). Becker says that pleasure, or pain avoidance, is seen as the important factor in motivation. Furthermore, he says the subject of discussion is what brings avoidance of pain or pleasure thus defining learning. He also argues that, any of the action done in a social context with no reward or encouragement and praise will not only be learned continued.
Becker (242) emphasizes that even though marijuana is not addictive, it can definitely be a socially encouraged habit that has harmful effects. Becker also gives the best advice to whoever are seeking to break the habit, he says, the physical separation from and contact cessation with the original social environment. For again, back with his old group John Doe may also to somehow become subjected to all the old definitions and that is exactly what he is trying to escape.
In conclusion, Becker’s “becoming a Marijuana User” is very important in taking a larger concept of the reality’s social production and it applies narrowly to the use of marijuana. Naturally, someone will be looking towards broader applications of the concept to the politics and the ability to help the users to quit or the starters not to engage in it or even better to avoid it.
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