Prescription drug abuse has been a growing problem in the United States, and is fuelled not just by the carelessness of the patients, but also by the easy access that they have to these drugs due to the negligence of physicians as well as pharmacists. According to the statistics revealed in a survey by the Bureau of Justice in 1997, drugs were used in 70 percent of the state prisons and 57 percent of the federal prisons before imprisonment.
It was also observed that almost 50 percent of the teenagers arrested in the state and federal prisons were found to be under the addiction of drugs.
How Drug Use And Crimes Are Related
According to law enforcement officials, the increasing use of drugs has resulted in an increased number of addicted patients, and also in an increased number of robberies and muggings in the country. Drug abuse and crimes are related in more than one way. The most common relationship observed is that people tend to commit more crimes when under the influence of drugs. These include misbehaviour, stealing, prostitution, or even murder.
In addition to this, owning and then selling drugs is also a crime. Drugs are sold in the illegal market and thus the way of acquiring them is also illegal. Supplying drugs to these illegal drug dealers or being associated with them in any other manner is also treated as a crime. Moreover, individuals addicted to drugs tend to commit crimes not just after drug use, but also for the purpose of purchasing these drugs. This has been especially noticed in the younger generation because they mostly get only a limited amount of WAM (walking around money) and thus are not able to purchase the expensive drugs. As a result, they end up committing small time thefts and burglaries in order to obtain money for the drugs.
Impact Of Drug Abuse On The Economy
In 2007, it was found that illegal usage of drugs cost a total of $193 billion to the economy. Out of this $193 billion, the cost of crime caused due to drugs was approximately $61 million. This $61 million comprised of about $56.37 million of cost incurred on the criminal justice system, about $1.46 million of cost incurred on the targets of the crimes committed and about $3.55 million for other crime related costs.
The increasing problem of drug abuse is taking its toll on the hard working citizens of the economy, who feel burdened due to the increasing costs in a difficult economic environment. Just about 10 years ago, the cost of the illegal usage of drugs to the economy was $181 billion, which included expenditures like emergency room visits, unemployment, costs incurred at courts, costs of keeping the criminals at prisons, welfare etc.
What Should Be Done
It has been estimated that every dollar spent on the treatment of drug addiction can lead to a reduction of anything between $4 to $7 in the cost of crime committed due to drug addiction. Thus, it is important to focus on the harmful effects of drug usage and educate as many individuals and entities as possible on the subject.
Initiative should be taken by the parents to educate and counsel their children at a young age because it has been observed that the younger the age at which one starts using drugs, higher is the probability of he or she being addicted to them. Moreover, when found to be addicted, family members should encourage their children to visit rehabilitation centres and get treated.
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