According to the results of the 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 15.9 million Americans aged twelve or older reported having used an illicit drug in the month prior to the survey, representing an overall increase of 0.8% from the previous year. Of those surveyed, drug use increased amongst youths aged 12 to 17-years from 9.7% to 10.8% and amongst young adults aged 18 to 25-years from 15.9% to 18.8%. Surprisingly, the survey also uncovered that there were approximately 4.6 million Americans who met the criteria for drug addiction and required professional help but who were in denial about having a drug problem. With more than 16.6 million Americans aged 12 or older (7.3% of the population) classified as having a drug dependence or abuse problem, up from 14.5 million the previous year, drug addiction is a growing phenomenon that needs to be addressed.
Effects of Drug Abuse
While the problem of drug addiction begins with the individual addict his or herself, the effects of any addiction are more widespread and destructive than most people would care to believe. Beginning with the addict’s family and leading all the way to the random victim of a drug-related crime, drug addiction is a problem that affects society as a whole.
Initially, many families of addicts tend to deny that there is a problem in the first place and unwittingly aid the addict in their dependency by providing the financial means to continue using or by taking care of any negative consequences arising from the addiction. As the addict falls deeper and deeper into a life of drug dependency, close personal relationships are pushed to the limit, as many members of the addict’s family often harbor feelings of guilt or resentment towards the addict and his or her upsetting behavior. Often times, the addict is forced to move out or does so willingly, as the cycle of drug abuse becomes too much for the spouse and/or other family members to bear.
But the effects do not stop there, as addicts fail to show up for work, costing employers millions of dollars a year due to absenteeism, inefficiency and workplace negligence. As many long-term addicts eventually run out of money to support their habits, a life of crime becomes a viable alternative, costing society millions of dollars in legal fees and social welfare programs. Moreover, the crime that arises from drug addictions can affect anyone at random, as the addict seeks to assuage their dependency at all costs. Perhaps the greatest cost of all however is the loss of a once happy and independent brother, sister, mother, father, friend or spouse to the vices of an addiction that has spun out of control.