Drug addiction does not only affect the person suffering from it. It causes a nasty ripple effect that touches everyone around that person. Partners become alienated, kids suddenly need to assume responsibilities they’re not ready for, and employers lose money because of the sufferer’s productivity and attendance issues.
The sufferer, however, does not see the impact of his addiction as his main focus is on acquiring and consuming drugs. Hopefully, this will offer a bit of perspective on the effects of drug addiction on an economic and personal scale.
Average Costs of Drugs in the US
As of 2007, the estimated overall annual cost of illicit drugs in the US is around USD 193 Billion according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, with around USD 55.7 Billion of this attributed to the misuse of prescription opioids.
It is, however, difficult to determine the average cost of drug addiction per person as factors such as location, accessibility, and insurances can affect the price of the drug. But just to give you a rough estimate on the cost of some of the popular drugs used in the US:
- Marijuana – Depending on where you’re located and the quality of the marijuana you’re purchasing, it can be as cheap as $138.22 per ounce (if you’re purchasing low-grade weed in Arkansas), or almost $600 per ounce on high-quality weed if you’re in D.C. The cost doesn’t include the paraphernalia used to smoke marijuana, such as the pipe and the paper you roll it with.
- Prescription opioids – Opioid is the umbrella term for a wide variety of painkillers which are either derived from the poppy plant or synthetically produced. Prices for each type vary depending on how addictive and how strong its effect is. Usually, the less addictive opioids are more expensive.
- Where you buy it also matters. Vicodin, for instance, can be bought $1.26 per pill with prescription and insurance. On the street, the price is jacked up 4 fold at $5 per pill. And as you need to take more than 1 pill to get the effect, you need to buy more, thus increasing the cost exponentially.
- Heroin – Heroin is the answer to expensive regulated opioids, with the average retail cost of 1 gram at $307 as of 2017 according to the data by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Following this model, if you’re consuming around 10 baggies per day, you spend about $153.50 daily or around $4298 per month.
- Cocaine – The average retail cost per gram of cocaine as of 2017 is around $96 according to UNODC. Depending on the usage, daily consumption of cocaine could go around almost $500.
More Than Just Finances
The price of drug addiction extends beyond the financial drain it can cost you and your family. It can also put you, your family and your community in jeopardy as well.
But before we talk about the effects of drug addiction to you and the people around you, let’s talk about how drugs work.
As our brains are wired to repeat experiences we find pleasurable, we are motivated to do them again and again. Drugs take advantage of this by flooding our brains with dopamine, thus triggering an intense feeling of pleasure. As a result, we keep taking the drug.
Over time, we start developing a tolerance for the dopamine that we require an extra amount to get the same feeling again. Eventually, the other things we find pleasurable (spending time with family, sports, and food) no longer give us the same joy as drugs do.
And this is where things get ugly.
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, drug overdose has claimed more than 70,000 lives already in 2017. That means there are more deaths related to drug abuse than any other preventable health conditions or injuries.
As drugs are chemicals, prolonged use can lead to health and mental problems. Depending on the type of drug you are addicted to, you could suffer from one or more health problems as a result. To name a few, drug addiction can lead to a weakened immune system, thereby making you more susceptible to other diseases.
Prolonged and heavy use of drugs can also lead to irreversible brain damage.
In addition to the established ill effects on one’s health, drugs can also make you vulnerable to infectious diseases through the sharing of needles and unprotected sex while high on drugs.
Effect on Relationships
Drug addiction is not just a condition of one person. Its effect impacts the people around the user as well. Hence, it’s also considered a family disease.
Partners of users become susceptible to violence and abuse, especially when they’re living in one roof. Additionally, they become codependent as well, thus trapping both of them in a toxic relationship.
Children, too, bear the brunt of a parent’s addiction. They start assuming responsibilities they are not ready for because their parent can’t function. The neglect and abuse they experience in the hands of an addicted parent will have a negative impact on their adulthood.
Often, children whose parent or parents suffer from drug addiction are more likely to become addicts themselves. Otherwise, they will have a higher tendency to have anxiety and trust issues as adults.
It’s a Social Problem Too!
Drug users are more likely to commit crimes than non-users. Aside from the fact that possession of drugs per se is illegal, being under the influence can encourage the user to commit crimes, from theft to fund the addiction to something as heinous as murder.
As drugs alter brain activity, users have lower inhibitions and are therefore more inclined to commit crimes with no remorse.
Rehabilitation: Why it’s worth the cost
If you or a loved one is suffering from drug addiction, seek help immediately. Upfront, drug rehabilitation and treatment costs may be steep. But in the long run, it is cheaper considering its benefits. For starters, it not only reduces the cost of drug use. It also lowers the associated health and social costs.