The Impact of Drug Abuse: Turning Public Places into Danger Zones

header curve background image

The Impact of Drug Abuse: Turning Public Places into Danger Zones

It seems there’s no end to the ways drug abuse and addiction can impact the lives of innocent people.  Addictions ruin relationships, cause people to lose their jobs and homes, destroy a person’s health, and can cause death.  Last year, more than 70,200 people died from drug overdoses in the United States.  But, the impact of drug abuse isn’t limited to the users and their families.

Unfortunately, many Americans are subjected to a horrific reality show each day as we go about our regular routines.  For instance, in some areas, it’s not unusual to see drug users taking advantage of public places to get high. Here are a few examples of how the impact of drug abuse affects the general population in many of our cities.

Drug Use on Subways and Inside the Stations

Imagine walking through a subway station and having to step around people who are lying on the floor in different stages of drug use.  According to many New York residents, they have seen needles and baggies strewn on the floors of an uptown train. They also report seeing people passed out on the floor or in staircases.  Of course, the situation gets worse during cold weather as the drug users seek shelter from freezing temperatures.

In one New York subway, workers collected more than 20,000 used syringes in six months.  Additionally, in one month, NYPD issued 150 tickets and made 17 arrests at three stations.  As a result, NYPD has uniformed and plainclothes officers patrolling the stations regularly to help control the situation.

In San Francisco, BART is being patrolled by police, especially the areas where drugs are sold and openly used.  Also, extra cleaning crews are being added by BART to address the situation of used needles and other drug paraphernalia that pose a danger to the public.

Public Restrooms Don’t Belong to the Public Anymore

All across the country, business owners are finding their public restrooms littered with used syringes, drugs, and even the bodies of people who have overdosed.  This situation leaves the business owners in a quandary. Since it’s against the law to knowingly provide a space for drug use, what are they supposed to do? The customers that support their business expect a clean restroom if needed.  If they close the restrooms, will they lose customers?  If they don’t close them, will they face legal issues?

Some establishments have resorted to closing their restrooms, regardless of the risk of losing business.  However, others have tried different tactics that make it difficult for an addict to shoot up in the restrooms.  For instance, they installed blue lights that make it hard to find a vein. Others have removed the drop ceiling tiles where users hide their drug paraphernalia.

As a solution, according to some experts, the restrooms should be well-lit, easy to unlock, stocked with naloxone, have a biohazard box for needles, and be monitored by a nurse or EMT.

Public School Grounds Unsafe for Students

Let’s look at the situation in Boston.  Teachers report having to stop recess so they can remove used syringes from the playgrounds.  During soccer games, coaches have to pause the game, so used syringes can be cleared from the field.  This is happening in a section of the city known as “Methadone Mile.” The strip is lined with methadone clinics, and illicit drug users come here to get high and then get sober.

Schools located near the strip see their property being used as a dumping ground for used needles. Drug users also hide under the school’s bleachers to get high, and they leave needles behind. The situation is so bad that pamphlets are given to students, instructing them on what to do if they find a needle.

The school system doesn’t have enough employees to keep the areas clean and safe.  However, city officials have tried to help by creating safe spaces where drug users can get high away from schools or other public areas.  They are also trying to expand treatment services for these individuals to help get them sober and off the streets.

How to Reduce the Impact of Drug Abuse

One of the best options for reducing the impact of drug abuse is to help these individuals get the treatment they need.  With a comprehensive program of detox, rehab, and aftercare, we can get people off the streets, off of drugs, and back into a sober lifestyle.

Learn more about addiction treatment programs by calling our toll-free number today.


  • – Overdose Death Rates
  • – Used Syringes Littering This Upper Manhattan Subway Station

Add Your Comment