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Friday, May 27, 2011

Financial Toll of American Addiction

Addiction is a worldwide issue that affects nearly every household in one way or another, one would be hard pressed to say that that they are not at least acquainted with someone suffering from an addiction. A recent study conducted by the Department of Justice’s National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) found some alarming costs associated with addiction and how it affects our country on a national level. The Economic Impact of Illicit Drug Use on American Society was produced on behalf of the Office of National Drug Control Policy and was the first of its kind in almost a decade; according to their estimates illicit drug use cost the United States $193 billion in 2007.

The statistics were compiled based off of the economic costs in the three following areas:
  • crime
  • health
  • productivity
Bloomberg News compared the cost of illegal drug use to that of diabetes, which a 2008 government study found costs more than $174 billion annually. “This study shows the economic cost of illicit drug use is significant,” NDIC Director, Michael F. Walther, said in a press release. “The study’s finding that the economic cost of illicit drug abuse totaled $193 billion reveals that this nation’s drug problem is on par with other health problems.”

While these finding may seem staggering, there is much that should be considered when assessing this information. Obviously, there isn't any doubt that illicit drug use affects America, costing tax payers billions of dollars every year. However, when looking at these statistics one should keep in mind that the majority of the money spent dealing with illicit drug use goes to imprisoning non-violent offenders for possession or probation violations. The United States' draconian drug laws end up costing taxpayers a fortune and locking people up for their addiction does not help the addict nor America. Addicts need counseling and/or treatment if they are ever going to be shown that is a better way to live, imprisonment only exacerbates the problem.

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