Drug Abuse and Addiction: Is it a Social Problem?
People who are suffering from drug addiction often view it as a personal struggle. They fail to see the big picture, because the problem by itself already feels so overbearing.
Family members of drug addicted individuals also feel like their world is ending—like it is collapsing in on itself. That’s why they continue to view it as a private hurdle. It’s something they don’t want to discuss; it’s something they are ashamed of.
But all over the world, drug addiction is considered a social problem. It is viewed as a threat to society. The personal struggle is extremely difficult, but it gets even harder once you realize that addiction also affects the world beyond you.
Drug Addiction as a Social Problem
Drug dependence and addiction have various health effects that destroy the abuser’s body. Once they realize they need help, there’s a huge chance it’s already too late. They have developed dependence for the drug. And every time they attempt to quit, various withdrawal symptoms manifest. It causes them to relapse. It forces them to take more and more of the drug. It keeps them from recovering.
But beyond these physical and psychological effects, drug addiction ruins families, breaks down relationships, ends careers, and affects the society as a whole.
These social effects don’t become clear to the addicted individual, because the drug makes them prioritize it over everything else. Before they realize they are pushing everyone away, the bonds have already been broken. Obtaining the drug becomes the only thing that matters to them. Expect a drug abuser to neglect their responsibilities for the sake of experiencing another high.
What is a Social Problem?
Social problems are defined as factors that damage society. Their effects are on the grand scale, affecting communities and even entire nations. It can affect entire populations.
A drug addicted individual may not be able to cause all this damage and destruction. But consider how many people are abusing various substances, and how many are getting addicted. Imagine how many relationships and families are getting broken down by these adverse effects.
Once the image sets in of how far-reaching this problem is, it becomes crystal clear that drug abuse and addiction is a social problem.
Again, this is a picture that won’t be clear to a person suffering the effects of addiction. They are focused on the pain and discomfort of withdrawal, or the crash that goes after the high. The worst part is that they might not even want to get better. “Rehabilitation” has such as negative connotation in the public eye.
And this contributes to the shame that keeps people from seeking treatment. It’s a public opinion that allows drug addiction to remain a serious problem for society. It rivals its fellow social problems such as poverty, sexually-transmitted disease, alcoholism, unemployment, and sexual abuse.
Drug Addiction and Societal Effects
On the bigger scale, drug abuse becomes a major public health concern. It impacts the population on multiple levels, including health, economy, and the law. Every year, it takes a tremendous toll on society.
Did you know that diabetes costs the United States around $131.7 billion annually? Cancer costs $171.6 billion annually. Combine these two numbers and you get $303.3 billion per year—a number that’s still lower than what substance abuse costs the US every year.
Drug abuse costs the nation more than $484 billion annually. This has something to do with the number of drugs available illicitly; the number of prescription drugs that are abused; the number of people using them recreationally or misusing them; and all the different health effects that need to be treated due to substance abuse.
Aside from health care expenditures, this figure also accounts for lost earnings, and the costs associated with accidents and criminal activity.
Drug addiction as a whole is an enormous burden for society. It affects everyone: even those who don’t abuse the substances.
Drug Addiction and Other Social Problems
Drug abuse also relates to other social problems experienced by the US. Violence, for example, is closely linked to it. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), At least half of the individuals arrested for crimes such as assault and homicide were under the influence of illicit drugs around the time of their arrest.
Meanwhile drugged driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is the cause of accidents for approximately 10 to 22 percent of drivers.
Child abuse is another societal problem that has something to do with drug abuse, as two-thirds of patients in drug abuse treatment centers admitted to being abused physically or sexually as children.
Drug Abuse: Effects on Individuals and their Community
The drug problem is so widespread and pervasive that everyone is at least acquainted to or familiar with someone who is affected by drug abuse.
Individuals not only suffer from various health problems, they are also putting themselves at risk of death. Back in 2000, drug abuse and smoking were linked to around 460,000 deaths. Drug abusers don’t just risk getting ill, they also risk getting injured.
And this problem extends to people in the community. Oftentimes, accidents don’t just affect the addicted individual. Many people who just happen to be on the same road can be killed when a drugged driver gets on an accident.
While drug abuse is already a big problem for the individual all by itself, it is important to remember that there is a bigger world out there, with which we interact, that can be affected and harmed because of this addictive habit.
If you know someone who is abusing a substance, reach out to them and convince them to get rehabilitated. There’s no shame in trying to get better. It’s not just for their own good. Addiction is a social problem, so by getting treated by medical professional, they are doing society a lot of good.
They will undergo detoxification under the care of medical experts, so they can safely get off the drug while managing their withdrawal symptoms. With proper care and guidance, they can finally get back to living a sober life, and make the world around them an even better place to be.
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