Substance Abuse: It’s affect on Individuals, Family, Friends, and Society

Last Updated: 20 Jun 2022
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The purpose of this essay is to shed light on substance abuse and its effect on individuals, family, friends, and society. This study examined reliable data regarding substance abuse, the effects it has on individuals, families, friends, and society. Included also are the risk and dangers associated with methamphetamines, and the problems associated with the drug trafficking industry worldwide. Treatment programs are available and can be beneficial to the individual as well as society. The preliminary results will show how substance abuse affects all people, businesses, and organizations involved.

The conclusion can also be drawn that substance abuse and its effects are problems that, if treated properly, and the correct tactics are used in controlling its supply, can be managed to some extent. Substance abuse effects not only the person abusing drugs but also family, friends, and society as a whole. The costs associated with substance abuse is astonishing; these costs include medical care, court costs, the cost of treatment, court proceedings, and costs associated with crimes involving drugs. Prisons are overcrowded and the battle to keep illegal drugs out of the prison system continues.

The problems associated with substance abuse are not only in the United States but Worldwide. New programs and tactics to treat and fight substance abuse have to be implemented to keep up with the ever changing drug industry. Individuals who abuse tobacco or other addictive drugs are at a higher risk illness, injuries, imprisonment, and death. Some of the health risks associated with substance abuse include: dependency, impairments to brain function, cancers, STDs, HIV/AIDS, withdrawals, depression, seizures, liver, lung, and kidney problems, death, and many others ("Health Risks Associated with Alcohol and Drugs", n.d. ).

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The brain can suffer many affects from substance abuse, from addiction, mild anxiety and depression, to extensive manic and other psychopathic responses. Severe withdrawal symptoms from “physiological depressants such as alcohol and benzodiazepines are hyperactivity, elevated blood pressure, agitation and anxiety” (Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, 2005). After withdrawing from stimulants a person will feel depressed, tired, and withdrawn. “Any substance taken in very large quantities over a long enough period can lead to a psychotic state” (Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, 2005).

Cancer is another health problem associated with substance abuse. Intravenous drug use, unprotected sex, and heavy drinking can cause liver damage and result in cirrhosis and cancer of the liver. Diseases such as hepatitis C can be contributed to unprotected sex and intravenous drug use; sometimes leading to liver diseases. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) (2013) estimates that, “in 2011 a total of 14. 0 million people injected drugs worldwide, which corresponds to 0. 31 percent of the population aged 15 – 64” (Extent of health consequences of drug use : injecting drug use.para 1. ).

People infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) are high among intravenous drug users. The UNODC (2013) “estimates that the global prevalence of HCV among people who inject drugs is 51. 0 percent, meaning that 7. 2 million people who inject drugs were living with HCV in 2011” (HIV among people who inject drugs. para. 2) HIV/AIDS and STDs are common among drug users and be spread through unprotected sex and intravenous drug use, which is a behavior known to be associated with substance abusers. UNODC (2013) estimates that of the 14.0 million people who inject drugs, “1. 6 million are living with HIV; that represents a global prevalence of HIV of 11. 5 percent among people who inject drugs” (HIV among people who inject drugs. para. 1).

Premature death due to drug overdose has been on the rise. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), (2013), “in 2010, 30,006 (78%) of the 38,329 drug overdose deaths in the United States were unintentional, 5,298 (14%) of suicidal intent, and 2,963 (8%) were of undetermined intent” (The Problem, para. 3).

The statistics show that men are more likely to die than women and that “American Indians/Alaska Natives had the highest death rate, followed by whites and then blacks; the highest death rates among people 45-49 years of age; and the lowest rates among children less than 15 years of age” (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013, Risk Factors for Drug Overdose). Drugs are now to blame for more deaths than motor vehicle accidents, for the first time (ABC news).

According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse (2013),” an estimated 10.3 million people aged 12 or older reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs during the year prior to the survey” (How Many People Take Drugs and Drive). Drugs also play a major role in traffic accidents; According to Science Daily, “between 1998 and 2009, there were more than 44,000 fatally injured drivers with drug-test information—one quarter of whom tested positive for drugs”(Deadly Drugged Driving: Drug use tied to fatal car crashes, 2011, para. 11). According to MADD (n. d), “over 1. 2 million drivers were arrested in 2011 for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics” (Statistics, para.2).

Death of a loved one affects the family members and friends, not only emotionally but also financially. There are very few states that offer assistance in funerals and those that do only pay a small amount (Funeral Ethics Organization, 2012). Substance abuse can affect families in many ways. Children of parents who abuse drugs are at a higher risk of child abuse and of being born prematurely, low birth weights, and other problems which occur at birth.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (n. d.), “there may be as many as 45,000 cocaine-exposed babies born per year” (Magnitude: Addiction Affects Everyone: Prenatal. ). Women who smoke during pregnancy deliver babies that have a lower average birth rate than those of women who do not (NIDA). The risk to children in homes where the parents manufacture drugs is even greater. “Approximately 50% to 80% of all child abuse and neglect cases substantiated by child protected services involve some degree of substance abuse by the child’s parents”, according to National Institute on Drug Abuse: Magnitude (Addiction Affects Us All: Child Abuse).

The emotional and financial burdens of living with a person who has a substance abuse problem can be overwhelming. Some of the other effects include the risk of HIV, increased risk of substance abuse in children born to addicted mothers, conduct problems in children living in homes where there is substance abuse present, marital problems, emotional and physical abuse, and legal problems (“Substance Abuse Affects Families”, n. d. ).

Many times children born to or living in homes where the parents have a substance abuse problem, the children will end up in foster care. According to American Humane Association, ” the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, by the American Humane Organization estimates in a 2005 report states that substance abuse is a factor in at least 70 percent of all reported cases of child maltreatment” (Parental Substance Abuse Can Lead to Child Abuse and Neglect).

The number of children living in foster care is a financial burden to society as a whole. Society is affected by substance abuse in a number of ways including increased crime rates, lower property rates in drug infested areas, and financial burdens to federal, state, and local governments, and taxpayers. According to the Drug War Facts Organization (1998-2013), “of the 1,552,432 arrests for drug law violations in 2012, 82.2% (1,276,099) were for possession of a controlled substance, and 276,333 were for the sale or manufacturing of a drug” (Basic Data, para. 1).

This along with stricter sentencing policies has caused an overcrowding of jails and prisons. Not only are the jails and prisons filled with people convicted of drug possession, sales, and manufacturing, but they also consist of people convicted of crimes committed to support their habits (Drug War Facts Organization Basic Data, section 6).

The annual costs per federal inmate according to The Urban Organization (2012), are “$21,006 for minimum security, $25,378 for low security, $26,247 for medium security, and $33,930 for high security” (Prison is expensive) According to the Vera Institute of Justice,(2012), “among the 40 states surveyed, representing more than 1. 2 million inmates (of 1. 4 million total people incarcerated in all 50 states prison systems), the total per-inmate costs averaged $31,286 annually”(Total Taxpayer Cost Per Inmate, p. 8, para 1).

There are also state and federal costs associated with training within the federal and state law enforcement agencies and prisons. Methamphetamine labs not only put the safety of citizens at risk but they also cost the state, federal, and local government as well as the taxpayers a considerable amount of money. People who live near these labs, law enforcement personnel, and emergency responders are all at risk of being seriously injured or killed. Law enforcement means and allocated expenditures are strained because of the costs associated with disposing of and cleaning up of methamphetamine labs.

According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, “the average cost to clean up a methamphetamine production laboratory is $1,900; given that an average of 9,777 lab seizures were reported to NCLSS each year between 2002 and 2004, the economic impact is obvious” (The Impact of Drugs on Society, para. 6). There was also additional training needed for dealing with these labs which was not only an added financial burden but increased workloads (National Drug Intelligence Center: The Impact of Drugs on Society, para. 6).

The burden felt within the law enforcement system is not the only industry that has been affected by drug use. As of 2009, most drug users aged 18 and over, were employed and admitted to having used drugs while employed. The turnover and absenteeism, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (n. d), “from 2002 to 2004, full-time workers aged 18-64 who reported current illicit drug use were more than twice as likely as those reporting no current illicit drug use to report they had worked for three or more employers in the past year”(Turnover and Absenteeism).

Current drug users were also more likely to miss more days of work. According to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (1998), “estimates by the United States Department of Labor in the mid1990s suggest that drug use in the workplace may cost American business and industry between $75 billion and $100 billion annually in lost time, accidents and higher health-care and worker’s compensation costs” (Economic consequences of drug abuse and trafficking, p. 17, para. 3). School performance is lower for drug users than for non-drug users according to the whitehouse. gov website.

The fight against drug abuse is not only in the workforce, schools, and society in the United States, but worldwide. According to Stein (2012), an author for the Los Angeles Times, in one article out of a series of articles they are doing on addiction states that “about 200 million people around the world use illegal drugs every year” (Stein, 2012). The study contained information regarding four drug categories; opioids, amphetamines, cocaine, and marijuana. The rates of drug users are higher in developed countries. Social factors and the accessibility of drugs also affect the rates.

Drug use fell behind tobacco and alcohol use in mortality rates, but when considering the lost years of life drugs rated higher at 2. 1 million, according to Stein (Stein, 2012). Drug trafficking is another problem felt worldwide; according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), “given the large quantities of licit substances that make their way across oceans and continents every day, in containers and even small boats, maritime trafficking poses a particularly knotty challenge for the authorities”(Executive Summary: Maritime trafficking poses challenge to authorities, para.1).

Maritime seizures are usually larger than those seizures of trafficking by road or air (Executive Summary: Maritime trafficking poses challenge to authorities, para. 3). New trafficking routes are being looked for as the old ones are being discovered, causing the authorities to have to step up their efforts in controlling the drug trafficking industry. New drugs are being created daily to not only meet with the demand for them but to help traffickers avoid detection. With this increase of new drugs the number of new narcotics under international control had be increased.

With all the drugs and the drug abuse in the United States as well as around the world the need for treatment programs and tactics to fight drug abuse is on the rise. There are five primary treatment models that professional in the field of substance abuse can use: psychoeducational models are used in educating patients about substance abuse, related behaviors and their consequences; skills development groups basically try to teach individuals the skills they will need to maintain a drug free lifestyle.; cognitive-behavioral groups are designed to change the clients thinking patterns; support groups help reinforce the clients’ efforts regarding their thinking and emotions and help them develop better interpersonal skills while in recovery.

There are also relapse prevention treatment groups, communal and culturally specific treatment groups, and expressive groups (Center for Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy, 2005). One or all of these types groups may be used in the treatment of substance abuse and in different settings.

There are different types of substance abuse facilities available for the treatment of addiction. “Facilities operated by private, nonprofit organizations account for 58% of treatment facilities. Private, for-profit facilities (29%), and the remaining facilities are operated by local governments (6 percent), state governments (3 percent), Federal Government (2 percent), and tribal governments (1 percent)” (Substance abuse treatment facilities: New data, 2010: Major Findings, para. 1).

Programs are also being made available in jails and prisons to help reduce the number of returnees to the prison system. Substance abuse treatments vary in price but can be very expensive although it is believed that the benefits outweigh the costs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (2012) states that, “according to several conservative estimates, every dollar invested in addiction treatment programs yields a return of between $4 and $7 in reduced drug-related crime, criminal justice costs, and theft” (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2012: Is drug addiction treatment worth its cost?, para. 2).

When healthcare savings are figured in to that savings it can exceed costs by a 12 to 1 ratio, so while the costs may seem great the benefits can be even greater. Family and friends can help addicts find treatment and resources to help pay for the treatment as well as being supportive while they are in treatment (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2012: Is drug addiction treatment worth its cost? ) There are several websites that are available to help obtain the information needed to locate the right treatment facility.

The effectiveness of treatment varies depending on the individual and the treatment facility and type. According to NIH, “research that tracks individuals in treatment over an extended periods, most people who get into and remain in treatment stop using drugs, decrease their criminal activity, and improve their occupational, social, and psychological functioning”(National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2012: How effective is drug addiction treatment? , para 1). Substance abuse affects individuals, family members, friends, and society as a whole.

There are astonishing costs related to drug abuse, crimes committed related to drug use and producing drugs, and the cost associated with authorities who fight against drugs. The jails and prisons are overcrowded and the staffs are overworked. Substance abuse is not a problem associated with just the Unites States, but worldwide. There are treatment options and facilities available, although; they can be costly. However, statistics show that the benefits far outweigh the costs in most cases.

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Substance Abuse: It’s affect on Individuals, Family, Friends, and Society. (2016, Aug 24). Retrieved from

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