Drug and Alcohol Abuse in US
How it works
The United States has battled the burdens of drug and alcohol abuse dating back to the 1930’s, drug and alcohol abuse have been proven to rise during time of economic downturn. Alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription drugs and tobacco cost the more 193 billion dollars a year and growing (CDC.GOV). Substance abuse in the U.S. has increased healthcare costs which is estimated to be 11 billion dollars, crime an estimated 61 billion dollars, and loss of productivity an estimate of 120 billion dollars lost.
The decline of physical health of drug and alcohol abuse extremely costly due overdoes and drug related illness. The entire community can be affected due to drug and alcohol related crime, which include petty theft to involuntary manslaughter due to an individual driving under the influence. The labor force is affected by decreased productivity, increased sick time, and high turnover rates.
Tobacco ranks number two with the highest death rate in the United States. In fact, tobacco kills more people than Alcohol, HIV, Cocaine, Heroin and all other illegal drugs. Smoking cost the economy a lot of money, there are multiple factors that raise the economic cost (CDC.GOV). These factors include medical cost for both adults and children who were affected by second smoke, loss of productivity because people were out of work due to illness related to smoking, Medicaid and med care insurance. In the graph above it shows in detail the economic cost of tobacco use.
State spending on tobacco prevention also drives the economic cost but the issue at hand is the money is not going towards tobacco prevention. States are receiving millions of dollars annually from taxes on tobacco and from tobacco companies themselves from lawsuits. The issue is states are not using this money for tobacco prevention or even awareness campaigns that show the harms that come from tobacco use. Where exactly is this money going if we are not spending it on tobacco prevention? “In 2018, states will collect a record $27.5 billion from tobacco taxes and legal settlements but will only spend $721.6 million (less than 3%) on prevention and cessation programs (CDC.GOV).”
There are multiple factors that alcohol abuse effects when it comes to the effect on the economy. One of the biggest factors that effects the economy is the cost of driving under the influence. “According the National Highway Patrol nearly one person is killed every 31 minutes due to driving and non-fatal injuries every 2 minutes. 39% of all traffic deaths are involved with some who was driving under the influence of alcohol.” 77 percent of the economy cost comes from loss of productivity at work, this could be being sick from binge drinking, to other individuals with extended illness which requires more time away from work and death from long term alcohol abuse. Excessive alcohol use is the main problem with alcohol use and the cost to the economy. Studies have shown that in 2010 excessive alcohol abuse cost the economy nearly 249 billion dollars (CDC.GOV).
The prevention of alcohol abuse is certainly something that the government needs to explore as an option because we are simply spending too much money on excessive alcohol consumption. There are numerous things that can help prevent the economic cost of alcohol abuse. We can start spreading awareness throughout cities and counties regarding the cost of excessive alcohol consumption and the cost that come along with it. Local restaurants and bars could start limiting the amount of alcohol that is given out to everyone as well as increasing the prices of alcohol to deter the amount of alcohol one individual can consume. Liquor and beer companies should be liable for any cost that occur when an individual is under the influence of alcohol, including drunk driving accidents and deaths.
The war on illicit drugs has been something the United states has been fighting since Richard Nixon declared it in 1971. The United States has spent billions of dollars on fighting the war but also billions of dollars on the consumption of illicit drugs. These costs include incarceration of those convicted of illicit drug crimes. The United States estimates that there are 500,000 thousand inmates that are in prison due to illicit inmates, it cost the United States 25,000 dollars per year on one inmate. That means that the United States is spending 12.8 billion dollars on inmates behind bars for drug crimes. We spend 58% more money to keep an inmate behind bars in prison then we spend on a child’s education.
The NDIC estimates that the annual cost of drug-related crime in the United States is more than $61 billion with criminal justice system cost making up $56 billion of that cost(verywellmind). Not only are we counting the cost of crimes involved with illicit drugs there are other factors that affect the economy as well. According to NDIC estimates, drug abuse accounts for: $49 billion in reduced work days, $48 billion in incarceration expenses (NDIC). If states were to spend more money on educating communities about the dangers of illicit drugs and addiction these drug related crimes would drop. The United States needs to act and spend the money on educating people rather than spending money on incarceration.
We are simply not doing enough as a country to help those in need of addiction treatment. Research has shown us that only 6% of individuals needing treatment are receiving it, those numbers are drastically low. The issue when it comes to treatment is not many people who are addicted to drugs have no insurance therefore they cannot afford the treatment. If the government were to focus more on mental health and drug abuse as opposed to the criminal side of drug and alcohol abuse I believe that it will help the cost of the economy. If government funding were to go to facilities that treat substance abuse and gets those individuals the help that they need then we would see less arrest due to drug related crimes.
In conclusion, we as a country are paying to much money both as an economy and as a society. The war on drugs and addiction has been a battle that has been fought for more than 5 decades and it seems that we are continually regressing. We need to act and start doing the things that are going to benefit us. We need to spend more money on treatment services for those addicted to illicit drugs and alcohol, and mental health. Addiction and mental health run hand and hand with each other and we must be able to treat both. We are spending too much money on inmates for drug related crimes, that money would be better spent if we were to spend more on educating those on the cost of illicit drugs and alcohol.