And they can often escape into substance abuse and addiction" (Study reveals rise in drug, alcohol abuse during economic downturn).
One of the most important ways in which an increasing rate of drug and alcohol abuse and addiction affects the economy is the spiraling cost of healthcare and rehabilitation. The increase in addictions also creates a gap between the need for treatment and rehabilitation and available resources. This in turn places economic pressure on state and local government. This is especially difficult to maintain in a recessionary economic climate. "States, local governments, and non-profits are all facing tremendous budget shortfalls -- and they are cutting the resources to help this growing group of addicts in trouble, just when they need it the most" (Study reveals rise in drug, alcohol abuse during economic downturn).
The following illustrations provide a clear indication of the amounts that have been spent on alcohol and drug addiction treatment and rehabilitation over a period of time.
It is clear from the above graphs and charts that billions of dollars are lost every year because of absenteeism and lost earning from both drug and alcohol addiction.
It is true that as a result of the seriousness of the situation reflected in many articles and media reports the public is becoming more aware of the problem. As a consequence there have in fact been reports of declining drug rates in many areas of the country (Trends in Drug Abuse). A 2005 report by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) indicates that, "…there has been an approximately 17% decline over the last three years in any illicit drug use in the past month by students in the eighth, tenth, and twelfth grades combined" (Trends in Drug Abuse). However, at the same there are also many other research reports that indicate an increase in drug and alcohol usage among many young children; for example, it is estimated that, "Over half (51%) of America's teenagers have tried an illicit drug by the time they finish high school" (Trends in Drug Abuse). Furthermore, it has also been found that, "An estimated 19.5 million Americans aged 12 or older were current users of an illicit drug in 2003. This estimate represents 8.2% of the population" (Trends in Drug Abuse). A report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration states that alcohol abuse among 12 to 20-year-olds in California increased from 24.7% to 26.3% (SAMHSA Unveils State Substance Abuse Data from 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health).
The above findings are extremely worrying and do not bode well for the future. If children as young as twelve are becoming addicted to substances then this means that there is trend emerging that will possibly result in future social and economic problems and issues. In the light of these figures many experts agree that drug and alcohol addiction may in fact threaten the very fabric and structure of society and should be combated on all possible fronts.
One of the areas of concern that is also noted in contemporary literature on the subject is that there is an increasing trend towards the cultural acceptance of certain addictive drugs like alcohol and marijuana. A number of commentators blame the media and film for what has been termed the 'normalization' of drug taking. This is an aspect that adds to the concern about the increasing number of drug and alcohol addicts in our society. A culture cannot exist is its young and vibrant members are addicted to harmful substances and this leads to a fear expressed by many experts that various forms of addiction may sap the vitality of and drive of the society.
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