Effects of drug abuse on the society
There are various definitions of drug abuse which have evolved over centuries. According to the Columbia encyclopaedia, (2008), drug abuse is the habitual use of any chemical substance to alter the state of the body or mind for reasons other than medically warranted purposes. The definitions have kept on changing as new aspects on the practice are established. These new dimensions include introduction of new drugs and also the increasing abuse of prescription drugs. In a policy discussion paper, The Health Officers Council of British Columbia (2005), sought to broaden the scope of the term drug abuse to emphasize the role of society, culture and availability of the illegal drugs. Rather than accepting the ambivalent terms alcohol or drug “abuse,” many public health professionals have also adopted phrases such as “alcohol and drug problems” or “harmful/problematic use” of drugs. However, all available definitions imply a negative implication which goes against the moral or accepted values of society. According to the Mosby’s Medical, Nursing, & Allied Health Dictionary (2002) , some of the most commonly abused drugs include HYPERLINK “http://misc.thefullwiki.org/Ethanol” o “Ethanol” alcohol, HYPERLINK “http://misc.thefullwiki.org/Amphetamines” o “Amphetamines” amphetamines, HYPERLINK “http://misc.thefullwiki.org/Barbiturate” o “Barbiturate” marijuana, HYPERLINK “http://misc.thefullwiki.org/Benzodiazepine” o “Benzodiazepine” benzodiazepines, HYPERLINK “http://misc.thefullwiki.org/Cocaine” o “Cocaine” cocaine, meth and HYPERLINK “http://misc.thefullwiki.org/Opioid” o “Opioid” opium alkaloids. The negative consequences of drug abuse affect not only individuals who abuse drugs but also their families and friends. In short, the society at large bears the larger part of the blunt arising from an individual’s substance abuse. There are several major ways in which the society is affected by the vice.
The first effect of drug abuse is family breakups. When drug users spiral into addiction, they lose all focus in life including their responsibilities. The need to support the habit comes before the welfare of their families in most cases. Eventually, they are not able to support their families and their spouses walk out of the relationship. The victims are the children who are not able to grow in a supportive family environment. The National Drug Intelligence Centre of America (2006) posited that children whose parents and other family member’s abuse drugs are physically or emotionally abused and often lack proper immunizations, medical care, dental care, and necessities such as food, water, and shelter. The same report indicated that 4.3 percent of pregnant women aged 15 to 44 confessed to having used illicit drugs in the past month. Children from such families might end up as reserved and are most likely to fall into the same pit of drug abuse to escape their despondence. This might lead to destitute children or homeless families thus straining the relevant to authorities’ resources.
Secondly drug abuse has been associated with an increase in crime level in different communities. In a survey by the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) program (2009) there was a reaffirmation on the strong link between HYPERLINK “http://www.opposingviews.com/questions/should-cities-fund-needle-exchange-programs” drug use and HYPERLINK “http://www.opposingviews.com/topics/crime” crime. The research’s findings were consistent with various studies on the correlation between drug abuse and the rates of criminal activities in most countries. The rational explanation for the trend is that most substance abusers involve themselves in crime to support their expensive habits. In other cases, their crime involvement comes when they lose jobs due to drug dependence or at the point when their resources are depleted by the practice. Casavant. L. and Colin.c, (2001) in a paper presented to senate special committee on illegal drugs, argued that the scientific studies conducted over the past two decades provide evidence which tends to show that drug use is one of a number of factors that may explain why some people commit criminal acts. They continued to add that many people who have developed an addiction to expensive drugs such as heroin and crack/cocaine and cannot afford their habit will commit crimes to buy drugs. The rise in crime is costly to any society. There is less economic investment in communities plagued with insecurity. The government is also hard pressed to fight crime which strains resources that would have been used in provision more important social services.
Another negative effect of drug abuse in society is the link between the vice and an increase in sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS. According to the National Drug Intelligence Centre of America (2006) the most obvious effects of drug abuse–which are manifested in the individuals who abuse drugs–include ill health, sickness and, ultimately, death. Of particular concern in this is the contraction of needle borne illnesses including hepatitis and HIV/AIDS through injection drug use. Some risky behaviours such as needle sharing and unsafe sex are common among people who abuse drugs. This is because most of the substances altar brain functioning and also impair decision making individuals leading to life threatening activities. In addition most of these drugs also weaken the immune system. The lethal combination increases the likelihood of acquiring HIV-AIDS, hepatitis and many other infectious diseases. In a study aimed at the youth by National Institute on Drug Abuse (2009), the poor judgement was mostly observed among alcohol abusers. The study concluded that such actions could lead to unsafe sexual practices which could ultimately lead to HIV infection. A lot of resources are used to research on eradication of these diseases and drug use negates any gains made so far. Moreover, personnel management studies have shown that a healthy society produces a better workforce. The resources used to curb the spread of the diseases could be used in other development projects to aid the larger society.
Lastly, drug abuse affects the productivity of the individuals. Many companies suffer due to inefficient services provided by their employees who abuse drugs. According to The National Drug Intelligence Centre of America (2006), many substance abusers are unable to fruitfully hold on to their jobs. In addition, those who do pose a great treat especially in sensitive job positions where a minor degree of impairment could be catastrophic such as airline pilots, air traffic controllers, train operators, and bus drivers. The businesses also suffer as most of these employees have a proclivity to pilfer company materials leading to significant losses. The issue of absenteeism also arises and it affects the company’s productivity and ability to return profits. Employees who are addicted are also prone to use higher insurance and medical covers to cater for various illnesses that emanate from their drug use. When businesses are not able to break even, job cuts ensue leading to even more problems in the society.
In conclusion, we can comfortably say that though drug abuse affects the individual first, the ripple effect is felt even more by the larger society. The effects discussed above are just but a few among myriad others. The bottom line thus appears to be more resource dedication to fighting the vice. Most families try to avoid stigmatization by turning their back on affected members. However, as earlier observed, this will just deteriorate the problem further. There is also the need for legislation and more research in all societies regarding the issue of drug abuse and addiction. In Kenya for example, an alcohol control law has been passed to try and stem the tide of alcoholism. The law also incorporates research and compels the government to create more awareness on the same. The resources needed might be enormous but the alternative is even more costly. According to Volkow. W, (2007), drug abuse and addiction are major burdens to society; economic costs alone exceed half a million trillion dollars annually in America …and however staggering those numbers are, they provide a limited perspective of the devastating effects of this disease,”. It thus behoves all authorities to proactively create awareness on the dangers of drug abuse in the society to avoid wastage of resources in curing ailments related to the practice.
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