“Drug abuse and addiction are major burdens to society; economic costs alone are estimated to exceed a half a trillion dollars annually in the United States, including health, crime-related costs, and losses in productivity. However staggering as these numbers are, they provide a limited perspective of the devastating consequences of this disease,” (Volkow, 2007 P. 2).
The cost of drug addiction and drug abuse can be staggering in today’s society. 14 percent of people brought to emergency rooms at hospitals suffer from alcohol or drug abuse/addiction disorders. About 20 percent of hospital costs through Medicaid are linked to substance abuse. $1 out of $4 is spent on Medicare inpatient care. About 70 percent of state prison and jail inmates used drugs on a regular basis. One-third of state prison growth can be accounted to drug offenses. Since 1985 there has been an 80 percent increase in prison population. Addictions cause an economic burden on the United States that is two times that of diseases affecting the brain. Untreated substance addiction and abuse can have significant disruptions and costs for families (Dewey, 2008).
Substance addiction and abuse can have a grave impact on society. Substance abuse and addiction can have grave effects that contribute to costly mental, social, and physical health problems. Some examples include: STD’s, domestic violence, teen pregnancy, child abuse, fights, murder, and suicide (Dewey, 2008).
While the manufacture, sale, transportation, and use of controlled substances are themselves criminal, drugs and crimes are also linked in other ways. The addict who is so habituated to the use of illegal drugs that he or she steals to support the habit, the drug importer who kills a rival dealer and the offender who commits criminal act due to the stimulation provided by drugs all provide examples of how drug abuse may be linked to other forms of criminal activity. The United States Department of Justice has stated, “There is extensive evidence of the strong relationship between drug use and crime” supported by “a review of the evidence” that can be summarized in the following three points (Schmalleger, 2012 P.351).
1. Drug users report great or involvement in crime and are more likely then nonusers to have criminal records.
2. People with criminal records are much more likely than others to report being drug users.
3. Crimes rise in number as drug use increases (Schmalleger, 2012 P.351).
Offender self-reports of jail inmates collected by BJS researchers showed the following.
• About 44 percent used illegal drugs in the month before the offense for which they were arrested.
• Roughly 30 percent used illegal drugs daily in the month before the offense.
• Around 27 percent used illegal drugs at the time of the offense.
• Cocaine and crack cocaine were the drugs most commonly abused by jail inmates (Schmalleger, 2012 P.352).
Dewey, William L… (2008). Friends of NIDA
Healthy People.gov. (2012). Substance Abuse. Retrieved from www. Healthy people.gov/2020/topicsobjectives2020/overview.aspxx?topicid=40.
Schmalleger, Frank. (2012). Criminology Today: An Integrative Introduction, Sixth Edition.