Ever since the start of the War on Drugs, the American people have grown more aware of the national drug crisis. From the cocaine epidemic of the 1980s, the heroin surge of the 1990s to the recent introduction of designer drugs, the United States has seen its drug landscape change dramatically, but the one constant that remains is the fact that drugs harm the nation. As the government continues to act and react to the current drug problems afflicting its citizens, it’s important to understand what is at stake.
Drug abuse threatens public well-being
According to a study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Americans see drug abuse as the most serious health problem in the nation, and it’s easy to see why. Drug overdoses cause the deaths of almost 44,000 people a year (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Even looking past direct drug overdoses, substance abuse is a contributing factor in a number of potentially fatal diseases. Tobacco causes between 10 and 30 percent of cancer-related deaths. Cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines contribute significantly to the development of heart disease. But drugs don’t need to cause a disease to help spread it. Approximately one in three cases of AIDS is caused by injection from a contaminated needle.
The threat to public health posed by drugs is not limited to disease. Drugs also increase the risk injury on a national level. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, between 10 and 22 percent of auto collisions involve the use of drugs in at least one of the drivers. Drug use is also strongly related to crime and violence. More than half of criminal suspects arrested for homicide, assault or theft are under the effects of at least one illicit drug when apprehended. Overall, substance abuse represents a clear danger to the American people both internally and externally.
Drugs are a financial drain
In response to the threat of drug abuse, the American government must spend a great deal of money trying to protect its citizens. Overall, the nation spends more than $484 billion on drug abuse issues. This money goes to law enforcement, biohazard cleanup of drug labs, emergency medical treatment for overdoses, drug abuse prevention and a wide range of other programs. The burden of these costs inevitably falls onto the taxpayer. The government must raise taxes or move funds away from other initiatives to cover the bill.
Drug abuse also burdens private businesses as well. Drug addicted employees often negatively impact their employers through poor performance, absenteeism, theft and accidents. When the quality of the job force declines, businesses suffer and the economy stalls. For as much harm as drugs cause to the bodies of addicts, they do similar damage to the wallets of the American people.
If you or someone you know might have a substance abuse problem, the impact can be greater than you realize. Call the Texas Substance Abuse Helpline for information on effective treatment options in your area.