Drug abuse negatively affects not only the user, but those around them. Drug abuse and addiction indirectly affects society as a whole. It is important to understand how costly the impact and ramifications drug abuse has on the personal, familial, societal, financial and legal aspects of our lives. While drug abuse is a major concern, the costs of drug abuse are staggering. The impact of these costs are often overlooked, but being informed can assist in gaining perspective on how serious the issue really is.
Detrimental Effects of Drug Abuse
Drug abuse has internal and external costs associated with this disease. Although drug abuse may take a while to become evident, the longer an individual goes without being treated, the problem becomes more serious and difficult to contain.
These areas are severely impacted by drug abuse:
Drug abuse can affect personal health, increase the chance of contracting or spreading an infectious disease, can promote mental illness, can handicap unborn children, and can make the individual accident prone. Babies who are born to mothers that use cocaine while pregnant can cause low birth weights and premature births. Tobacco contributes to 11-30% of cancer-related deaths, and there is a noted connection between drug use and the development of heart disease, hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS.
Family problems are escalated when there is someone in the home who abuses drugs. 50% to 80% of all child abuse and neglect cases usually involve some sort of drug addiction. Drug abuse is a major contributor to domestic violence cases, and causes withdrawal and alienation from friends and family. Families who deal with drug abuse and addiction also have an overlap of financial and legal ramifications which can be a direct result of drug abuse.
The costs of drug abuse are high on a societal level. Almost 60% of adults in prison are due to a drug-related crime, healthcare costs are over $600 billion dollars annually, and over half of the individuals arrested for assault, theft and homicide were under the influence when the crime took place. Every other factor indirectly affects the societal impact.
Drug abuse has huge financial repercussions. People who abuse drugs usually get to the point where they can no longer keep a job, neglect their bills, start stealing from family members, and spending all their savings to support their habit. Drug users miss subsequent days at work, and jump from employer to employer. 31% of the homeless population is a result of drug abuse, which could be attributed to loss of income.
Individuals under the influence of drugs usually have serious legal problems. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drugs are used by 10 to 22 percent of drivers involved in car crashes. Drug abuse can also pose legal problems for someone who has committed a drug-related crime, has acted irrationally and hurt someone under the influence, or from selling drugs.
Incorporating all of these factors, drug abuse costs billions of dollars annually. The effects of drug abuse frequently overlaps from one situation to the other, further reinforcing the need to promote programs and education that supports treatment. Understanding the full implications of drug abuse is a step that can help families rationalize getting help for their loved one.
Understanding how individuals who have a serious drug problem affect the environment on a societal and personal level is a step that can help families make the decision that their loved one is in need of professional treatment.