How Drug Abuse Affects SocietyAnna Ciulla
People who become dependent on drugs imagine themselves to be completely isolated, existing outside the normal flow of society. However, drug abusers and the markets that provide their supply play a role in the lives of everyone on earth.
There are few families on earth that haven’t been affected by drug abuse in some way. It may be the tragic death of a family member, a stack of medical bills, drug-related street crime or even political corruption.
Learn about how drug abuse makes for a more dangerous world for everyone.
Table of Contents
- It’s Deadly to the Addicted
- It Creates a Violently Competitive Black Market
- It Harms People around the Drug Abuser
- It’s a Significant Contributor to Suicide
- It Leads to Massive Medical Costs
- It Robs Addicts of Lifelong Potential
First, drug abuse needs to be addressed in communities because it leads to lucrative black markets and resulting battles for control.
It’s Deadly to the Addicted
It is easy to blame drug abusers for their own addiction, but addiction is far more complicated than personal choice. With the right combination of risk factors, experiences with addiction become very difficult to avoid. Even those who avoid substance abuse will likely still know someone who suffers from addiction.
Every addict is important to someone. They are parents, siblings, and children to someone, and their behavior puts them in a lot of danger.
“In 2014, 129 people died every day from a drug overdose, and 2017 saw a majority of overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids.”
Overdose isn’t the only risk that those who abuse drugs face. They’re also far more likely to fall prey to suicidal thoughts and actions…
“However, substance abuse and addiction actually increase the severity and duration of depressive episodes, despite any temporary relief they may provide, actually greatly increase the likelihood of suicidal thoughts (suicidal ideation). This is exacerbated by the fact that addiction frequently damages or destroys familial, professional, personal, and financial relationships, further increasing the risk of suicide. Even worse, many substances severely impact judgment, leading to suicide attempts.” (The Addiction Center)
People who are addicted can still get a normal life back, but access to drugs makes it very difficult for them. The impact left by people who died of drug abuse is impossible to measure, but every day, families lose someone. That can’t come without a cost.
It Creates a Violently-Competitive Black Market
Most drugs use is illicit. In most countries, the drugs need to be obtained from the black market, and they have to be used in secret because of the threat of prosecution. Even prescription drug abuse that starts legally is likely to require illicit sources, eventually. This has created opportunities for black markets to thrive.
Criminal organizations can easily enter this situation to provide drugs and secure havens where drugs can be shopped and used. Drugs are a lucrative business, but as soon as one organization is thriving, others will begin to form and compete for customers.
These competitions are frequently deadly. Many of the most violent gangs in history were supported by the profits from drug trafficking. Drug abusers who are not gang members sometimes get pulled into this violence because they are near spots where violence breaks out between competing gangs.
It Harms People in the Path of the Drug Abuser
People using drugs can lose clarity when intoxicated, and represent a danger to those around them. Many drug abusers enter the legal system because as a result of being implicated in assaults, robberies, and other violent crimes. Those who are highly dependent on drugs should be engaged by professionals because of the risk of unpredictable behavior.
However, drug users are likely the most dangerous when they are behind the wheel. Drugs other than alcohol are involved in more than 15% of crashes every year. This amounts to hundreds of deaths every year just as a result of people abusing drugs while driving. Those who feel confident driving impaired often have a long-term dependency that has affected their judgment.
It Leads to Massive Medical Costs
The medical field is forced to manage most of the damage that is caused by drug abuse in society. Overdoses represent a significant portion of people who end up in emergency rooms.
Those who have been suffering from long-term dependence are unlikely to have the resources to cover these expenses, so hospitals may try to discharge them quickly after they’ve been stabilized. Recovery from addiction can require months of comprehensive care, so these hospitals and drug users can be trapped in a painful cycle.
However, drug abusers don’t only end up in the emergency room. They also end up managing life-long chronic conditions, injuries sustained during intoxication and amplified psychological disorders.
All of the costs add up for people with drug use disorders, hospitals, and taxpayers. The opioid crisis alone accounts for almost $2 billion dollars in spending every year.
“Approximately $1.94 billion in annual hospital costs were attributable to patients who experienced an opioid overdose between October 2017 and October 2018, the analysis of 647 healthcare facilities showed.” (Opioid Overdose Care Totals)
More effective treatments for drug abuse could someday mean billions of dollars in savings for the medical field, along with a noticeable reduction in the number of people who require emergency services.
It Robs Families and Communities of People of Amazing Potential
In popular culture, drug abusers have been represented as hopeless dregs who can’t handle the real world. The truth is that some of the people most at risk of drug abuse are the most exceptional. High-intelligence appears to be directly correlated with a will to experiment—especially in areas authority figures have deemed off-limits.
“Brainy kids — especially girls — may be more likely to experiment with marijuana, cocaine, and other illicit drugs when they grow up, according to a new report. In the study of close to 8,000 people, those who had high IQs when they were aged 5 and 10 were more likely to use certain illicit drugs at age 16 and at age 30.” (WebMD)
Deadly drug abuse episodes often follow people who have arrived at their professional, artistic or academic peak. So many driven musicians, writers, sports legends and other extraordinary people have been lost to drug abuse. That should make it impossible to imagine that addiction only happens to people who don’t have anything to offer the world.
Drug abuse must be seen not as an individual failing, but as a disease that the entire community suffers. If each drug user is left on their own, the disease will continue to reach new people at all levels of society.