Our society values individualism. Each person is expected to look after number one (and maybe their immediate family). No matter who you are, you can “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” and make a good life for yourself.
With this focus on individualism, we often fail to see how each person’s choices affect society as a whole. As much as we’d like to be independent individuals, there are times when we have to admit how connected we truly are.
Addiction Impacts Everyone
This fact becomes crystal clear as we examine the effects of drug addiction. We all know addiction affects more than just the person using drugs. If you or a loved one has ever struggled with addiction, you know it touches many lives around you. But do you realize how much drug abuse affects the entire nation? As individual choices add up, the burden on society becomes heavy.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse offers the following statistics that demonstrate just how much addiction drains our society of resources, happiness, health, and of lives.
- Problem #1: Financial burden – When we add up the lost earnings, health care expenses and costs created by crime and accidents, substance abuse costs our country more than $484 billion each year.
- Problem #2: Homelessness – Based on a 2015 report, over 560,000 people in the U.S. are homeless. Among the homeless population, 31 percent suffer from drug abuse or alcoholism.
- Problem #3: Crime – As of October 2016, federal prisons housed 191,526 inmates. As many as 60 percent of these prisoners are incarcerated for drug-related crimes.
- Problem #4: Prenatal Health Issues – Low birth weight and other concerns are common for babies born to mothers who abuse cocaine during pregnancy. As many as 45,000 cocaine-exposed babies are born each year.
- Problem #5: Escalating Education Costs – The thousands of infants suffering from prenatal cocaine exposure are 1.5 times more likely to need special education services in school. These special education costs total $23 million per year.
- Problem #6: Reduced Productivity – Drug addiction makes our society less productive. Employee absenteeism is more common among drug users. Illicit drug users are more likely than others to have missed two or more work days in the past month.
- Problem #7: Injuries – Addictive drug use causes around 40 million injuries or debilitating illnesses among Americans each year.
- Problem #8: Drugged Driving – There are roughly 16,000,000 car accidents in the U.S. each year. Drugs are used by 10 to 22 percent of drivers involved in these crashes.
- Problem #9: Violence – Drug addiction escalates dangerous situations, often resulting in violent crimes. At the time of their arrest, more than 50 percent of individuals committing homicide, theft, assault and other major crimes were under the influence of illicit drugs.
- Problem #10: Heart Disease – This is the number one killer in the U.S. One in every four deaths is due to heart disease. What have researchers connected to the development of cardiovascular disease? Abuse of steroids, cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamines and tobacco.
- Problem #11: Death – Drug addiction costs our nation thousands in our most precious resource – lives. 460,000 deaths were caused by illicit drug use and smoking in 2000.