There are many ill effects of drug and alcohol abuse. Addiction in and of itself is a negative effect for all who are harmed by it. In addition to those addicted, there are many others who experience similar difficulties, losses, hardships, all at the hands of substance abuse.
Substance abuse hurts addicts, their families, their communities, and taxpayers. It hurts a state’s commerce, safety, and overall efficiency to operate. Trying to operate a community that is awash with addiction is akin to trudging through deep snow or mud. The economic toll alone of drug and alcohol addiction is such that not only is each state affected in its own way, but our entire country as a whole is also affected by it.
When people think of addiction, they usually think of this problem as being a person-to-person problem. They usually think of the health impact, the impact on the family, and the loss of life that addiction entails. People rarely look at the broader prospect of substance abuse and the very real risk that substance abuse entails. However, there are many statistics on the economic impact of addiction, and people need to know this.
Substance abuse is a huge problem for our economy from a governmental standpoint too, not just for businesses. According to the study, “The Impact of Substance Abuse on Federal, State and Local Budgets,” state governments spend about sixteen percent of their budgets on addressing addiction in their respective states. Local governments (city, county, township, village, etc.) spent a combined ninety-three-billion dollars on substance abuse and addiction, which is far more than they spent on transportation and public welfare.
Our country spends hundreds of billions of dollars addressing addiction every year, yet the problem only seems to get worse and cost more each year! Ultimately, this has developed into a significant problem requiring delicate yet extremely persistent attention. Now, the focus must be that of sweeping rehabilitation for all who are addicted to substances.
In addition to extensive rehabilitation of current addicts, the U.S. needs to also focus on prevention and education. Prevention and education are the best tools our country has for stopping people from becoming addicted in the first place.
It is much easier to stop addiction from ever starting in a person than it is to rehabilitate a person once they get addicted. Young people in particular need to be better educated about the risks of substance abuse by their parents and their schools, public officials, and opinion leaders. As both federal and state governments move forward into a new year, it’s time to start thinking more proactively about where our country is headed with addiction and how we can better prevent addiction from ever occurring in our communities.