The effects of even one person’s addiction go far beyond individual circumstances. They impact families, communities, and society as a whole. Addiction certainly has a physical toll on the individual who suffers, but it also results in emotional distress and conflict within families, as well as social, legal, and financial issues. There are almost no limits as to how far addiction’s effects can travel.
And unfortunately, untreated addiction almost always continues to progress. The deeper a person falls into its grips, the more it will take over their lives and adversely affect the lives of others. There’s no question that addiction is a very personal problem, and an individual who suffers is likely going to incur the worst physical and mental damage.
Addiction Impacts Families
The family and friends of addicts are often forced into a situation in which they feel they must choose to either enable the addict or exile them. Either approach can be very destructive to both the addict and those who must make these kinds of tough decisions regarding support.
Early on during a person’s addiction, it’s not uncommon for family members to look the other way or help them in ways that enable them or make their lives more conducive to drug or alcohol use. They may unwittingly or intentionally fund substance-using endeavors or provide the person with a free, relatively safe place to reside. Meanwhile, the addict is allowed to continue to feed their addiction without experiencing effects that might otherwise encourage them to get help.
To make matters worse, parents who abuse substances are frequently guilty of child neglect or endangerment and force their older children to take on the role of caretaker for the entire family as a result. Still, other children may follow in the footsteps of their parent(s), and begin to engage in substance abuse themselves as a means to self-medicate away negative thoughts and feelings associated with their mother or father’s addiction.
Regardless of which angle families choose to take when dealing with an addict, it can be emotionally draining, cause a great deal of conflict, and can rip entire families apart.
Addiction Affects Employment and Businesses
Active addiction tends to affect a person’s job performance and ability to maintain a stable career. Alcoholics and drug users are often frequently late for work or call in sick for reasons related to substance abuse, including hangovers and recovering from the aftereffects of binges. Even when at a job, many people with addictions are tired, distracted, and generally affected by their substance use. In extreme cases, some people use on the job and place themselves and others in danger as a result.
Businesses who employ people with an addiction tend to incur many negative consequences, including lost productivity and preventable accidents or injuries. Increased use of medical benefits can also put a strain on the business financially, and it can increase insurance costs for the addict and even other employees.
Addiction Affects Entire Communities
In the last few years, many communities have been ravaged by the opioid epidemic. As so many people have become addicted to prescription painkillers, the cost of prevention, treatment, and overdoses has skyrocketed. In addition, crime related to drug and alcohol use, including violence and theft, is detrimental to the well-being of communities.
For this reason, many cities, states, and municipalities have sued major drug manufacturers for their roles in perpetuating the drug crisis. Prescription opioids, although potentially helpful when used properly in the short-term, can lead to addiction that eventually progresses into the use of heroin and other illicit substances when a patient can no longer access or afford their drug of choice.
Furthermore, there is also a devastating emotional impact that communities suffer, as people watch family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and the homeless struggle with addiction, suffer from its many adverse consequences, and also experience potentially fatal overdoses.
Overall, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA, 2017) estimates that the abuse of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs costs more than $740 billion each year due to crime, lost work productivity, and an increased need for health care.
Prevention, Intervention, and Treatment Is the Answer
For all addicts and alcoholics, few approaches are effective at mitigating the problem other than professional, long-term treatment. Incarcerating such individuals is expensive and pointless. Money spent on jailing drug and alcohol offenders could be much better spent on prevention, treatment, and education.
Benjamin Franklin has oft been quoted as saying that an “ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This sentiment has never been truer in regard to addiction. Forcing people who are addicts or alcoholics into homelessness and the legal system serves no purpose other than to marginalize individuals who need help. This approach also continues to strain community resources and money that could otherwise be used to prevent, intervene, and treat addiction rather than further stigmatize it.
Getting Help for Addiction
Just Believe Recovery Center offers comprehensive addiction programs that are founded on the concept of holistic treatment. By using a holistic approach, clients can benefit from a variety of therapeutic services, activities, and educational classes. Studies have shown that such programs are the most effective at helping people achieve the best outcomes of long-lasting sobriety and wellness.
If you are ready to begin your journey to recovery, we urge you to contact us today and discover how we can help you get started—one step at a time!