Things That Would Improve Dramatically in a Drug-Free Society

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Things That Would Improve Dramatically in a Drug-Free Society

When we think about drug abuse and addiction, our first thought is about the vast number of addicted individuals.  Some of us may even consider the effects of drug-related crime on our communities. But, few people are entirely aware of the many levels of human misery that result from drug addiction.  Would it ever be possible for us to live in a drug-free society?  Perhaps.  But, we’ve certainly got an enormous task ahead of us before it can become a reality.

The following statistics reveal a shocking scenario that is playing out across our nation today:

  • About 16 to 20 million people abuse or are addicted to alcohol.
  • More than 61 million Americans smoke cigarettes.
  • 2.4 million people use cocaine.
  • Approximately 600,000 individuals use crack.
  • Over 750,000 people abuse methamphetamine.
  • More than one million use hallucinogens and ecstasy.
  • Many hundreds of thousands abuse heroin.
  • As many as 15 million people smoke marijuana.
  • Over 15 million people abuse prescription drugs.
  • More than 4.5 million teens abuse Ritalin, Adderall, and Oxycontin.

The total of these numbers is almost incomprehensible.  It’s also frightening to realize that many of the above people are using two or more of these substances concurrently. For instance, alcoholics may also use sleeping pills, tranquilizers, or other psychotropic drugs.  Teens may abuse prescription drugs, along with marijuana or alcohol. These dual addictions can quickly result in overdose or death.

Effects of Drug Abuse and Addiction to Society

Many drug abusers have the opinion that they aren’t hurting anyone but themselves.  They aren’t paying attention or have chosen to ignore the pain and suffering their loved ones have endured.  When a person needs to fund their habit, they lie, steal, resort to prostitution, or any other means to acquire the substance of choice.  

Addictions also have an adverse impact on communities and society as a whole.  These numbers provide a realistic accounting of this impact:

  • About one-quarter of a trillion dollars of our national health-care bill is attributable to substance abuse or addiction.
  • More than $740 billion is spent annually on costs attributable to lost work productivity, health care, and crime. 
  • Approximately 80% of adult inmates committed their crimes while high or stealing to buy more drugs.
  • Drug and alcohol abuse is involved in most property crimes.
  • More than 70,200 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2017.
  • Almost 90% of homeless people are alcoholics, and about 60% abuse other drugs.
  • About 50% of college students abuse drugs and/or binge drink.  
  • Each year about 700,000 students are injured,  and about 100,000 are sexually assaulted as a result of drug or alcohol abuse. More than 1,700 die from alcohol-related injuries or alcohol poisoning.
  • As many as 70% of neglected or abused children have parents who use drugs or alcohol.  These children are bounced from one foster home to another, and many of them will become drug abusers themselves at an early age.

When we look at these numbers collectively, it’s not difficult to see that society is being deprived of millions of citizens who would have been productive members of their communities if drugs had not entered their lives. 

Imagining a Drug-Free Society:  Is it Only Wishful Thinking?

Should we even try to imagine what life in America would be like without the scourge of substance abuse and addiction?  Living in a world without addictions seems like a fairy tale, but who’s to say it couldn’t happen? If you want to explore the possibilities, here are a few of the things we could expect in a drug-free society:

  • Crime would decrease dramatically.
  • Child abuse and neglect and domestic violence would decrease.  Families would remain together and thrive.
  • Healthcare costs would go down because people would be healthier.
  • There would be fewer homeless people. 
  • Bigger cities would have safer, cleaner streets without all the drug activity.
  • Money spent on drug-related issues could be put to better use.
  • Parents won’t be afraid to send their kids to school.
  • Law enforcement officers can respond more quickly to calls if they aren’t always tied up with drug-related crises.
  • More kids would graduate high school or college and enter the workforce as productive and contributing employees.

The above is only a partial glimpse at the number of things that would improve if substance abuse didn’t exist.  We have an enemy in America today, and this enemy is within. We worry about outside threats such as terrorists and other enemies.  But, we’re being destroyed from within a little more each day.  

Education and awareness campaigns have helped bring down the numbers somewhat.  Also, addiction treatment providers have helped millions of people overcome their substance abuse problems.  Unfortunately, we may not see the end of substance abuse in this lifetime, but hopefully, future generations will find a solution and enjoy the benefits of a drug-free society

Resources:

drugabuse.gov  – Overdose Deaths

drugabuse.gov – Trends and Statistics

 

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