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The Cost of Substance Abuse


Everything from abusive parents and vacant teens to violent robberies and the deaths of loved ones are the direct cause of overwhelming rates of drug use across the country.


Everything from abusive parents and vacant teens to violent robberies and the deaths of loved ones are the direct cause of overwhelming rates of drug use across the country. What does drug use cost the country overall? The National Institute on Drug Abuse has actually answered this very question.

Costs of Substance Abuse

According to the NIDA, the overall cost of tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs to the United States runs to an astonishing billion a year. These costs come from several areas. Use of all of these drugs cost Americans and the government exorbitant fees for health care, first of all. The additional costs also come from losses of productivity by American workers.

Health Care Addiction Costs

Tobacco and alcohol can be purchased by all American adults over the ages of 18 and 21, respectively. Even though these drugs are legal, they can have enormously damaging health effects.

Tobacco use can lead to respiratory system diseases such as mouth, throat, and lung cancer. Alcohol can lead to liver disease and cancer as well. The over-use of either of these drugs over long periods of time can lead to the shortening of anyone's lifespan, to say nothing of the toll drunkenness causes in automobile accidents.

Illegal drugs also cause an incredibly wide variety of damaging health effects. The number of specific diseases and damage done by the hundreds of illegal drugs available is too varied to address at once, but suffice it to say that use of these drugs also costs Americans billions of dollars in health care costs.

When someone is dying by the side of the road due to a drug overdose, simple human decency obligates emergency responders and hospitals to care for these people. When they can't pay, the government-and by extension, taxpayers-they have to pick up the tab for these costs.

Lost Productivity

When someone takes illegal drugs or gets drunk before work, they are unable to focus and do their jobs well. Drunk or high workers are also dangerous, and they can injure or kill their co-workers through accidents or negligence.

The costs of these accidents are enormous in terms of the workers compensation and health care that has to be paid for (as mentioned above), but there is also the simple fact that American companies and the workers themselves aren't able to create and sell as many products as they would be if workers were drug-free.

  
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