What is Drug Abuse Really?
Drug abuse is when a person will continually turn to different types of drugs to get high, or to feel a desired effect. For prescription drugs, abuse is defined as taking medications that are not prescribed to you, or using them in a manner they are not intended. The abuse of drugs does not necessarily mean addiction. However, this behavior can over time lead to a chemical dependency, and in most situations is a strong indicator of an addiction. This can manifest itself in different forms of behavior. Learn more about the Signs of Drug Abuse
What is Some Ways Drugs Affect Society?
Not only does drug abuse affect families, but it also has a detrimental effect on work relationships which together negatively impact society and the overall economy in a larger magnitude. There are 3 major areas in which drug abuse problems manifest themselves. One is in the cost to health care services, the second is in criminal activity and the costs to the criminal justice system, and third area is the loss of employment. This results in economic impact to families, financial difficulties, and often reliance upon a social welfare system. In its latest research, the Department of Justice National Drug Intelligence Center provides estimates on this economic impact. Their findings:
Department of Justice Economic Impact of Illicit Drug Use 2011
- In 2007 the total cost of illicit drug use totaled more than $193 Billion (most recent data according to the report)
- Crime related costs were $61 billion
- The impact on the Health care system was $11 billion
- Productivity loss cost this country $120 billion
Is it Drug Abuse or Addiction?
At this point we should clarify the differences in terminology. Drug abuse and addiction, while similar are not the same. In fact many individuals can and do abuse drugs and do not show signs of dependency. While this behavior does have a negative effect on society still, it does not merit the need for drug addiction treatments or behavioral programs. That being said, continual drug abuse is an indicator of an addiction problem.
Drug addiction is when the abuse of drugs or alcohol had made chemical changes to brain and body that results in behaviors of dependency. The person becomes so used to having drugs in their system, that the body cannot maintain a normal function without them. This carries with it a number of additional health risks, such as complications resulting from withdrawal, the body building up toxic levels of tolerance and an escalated risk of overdose.
Preventing Abuse of Drugs
With a problem this large we can see why the government is spending so much money on fighting the "war on drugs". We can certainly attack and choke off the distribution of these illegal drugs, but until we stop the demand, the point is moot. It is stressed that the most important way to treat drug abuse is through education, awareness and thwarting its harmful side effects with a drug abuse program. We have seen that merely putting people in jail does not solve the problem. If we arrest the progression of addiction, we have a much better chance of eliminating this problem from society at large.
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