Addiction is a problem for every community. In addition to the problems it causes in a family, it costs the community and the nation as a whole. The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that the cost nationally due to substance abuse is over $600 billion per year. Substance abuse users report (to GCTC) that they are spending an average of $150 per day with a range of $50.00 to $1000 per day prior to treatment. Placing these individuals in jail seems like an easy fix, but if the root of the problem is not treated, they will end up going back to what they knew before; substance use to numb the physical and emotional pain.
The cost to the community and the nation comes in many forms. People with Substance Use Disorder often lose their job because they are suffering withdrawals, are too high to go to work, or can’t pass a drug test. Consequently, they borrow from family and friends who also end up being alienated because they never get paid back. People with substance use disorders will often time raid medicine cabinets for medications because most people don’t realize when they’re missing pills or raid jewelry boxes of friends’ houses in hopes to find something to pawn.
They may drain community resources by going to Emergency Departments with injuries that may or may not be self-inflicted in attempts to get the substances they need and tend to Dr. shop so that no one doctor gets too suspicious. Ultimately, they may have to turn to dealers on the street. The streets have their own sets of rules because one can’t be sure what they’re getting is pure. Consequently, many have lost their lives due to combining substances or impure substances. He/she also may commit crimes to get money for the drugs. This creates a real problem in the community. In some cases, death due to overdosing may occur.
Consequently, children of the addict may be left for the community to care for. It doesn’t take much to see how recovery helps. Families become whole, workers help businesses, crime decreases, and most important of all, lives are saved.
Recovery is a live or die decision for many. Addiction is a disease, and it can be arrested before more harm occurs. Recovery from addiction can happen through abstinence-based programs or medication assisted programs, but all deserve your support.
(Co-written by Bill Barnard, BS, ADC, ICADC)