There are definite consequences that affect us all due to illegal drug use. Drug use and abuse most definitely has a major impact on a user’s health. Most times leading to sickness and diseases. The impact of drug use in this country as well as all over the world affects every walk of life. So many times, the user dies prematurely from a drug overdose or other illnesses associated with drug use.
Another extreme consequence is that some of those that die are parents. Their children are either left to live with grandparents, relatives or they go into foster care.
According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, between the abuse of drugs and the trafficking of these drugs, the economic cost alone is estimated at almost $215 billion. The damage that’s caused by drug abuse and addiction reflects in our overburdened justice system, strained healthcare system, loss of productivity and destruction of our environment. We can no longer say ‘it’s not my problem’ because it affects each and every one of us, one way or the other.
Illicit drug use and abuse is extremely widespread. This is resulting in permanent physical and emotional damage to people that use these drugs as well as having a very negative impact on their families, friends and coworkers. Everyone is touched one way or another when it comes to illicit drug use. This isn’t just young adults and teens using, many adolescents, mothers, fathers, and grandparents are as well.
The impact that illegal drug abuse has on our health care system is unbelievable, just in 2008 alone, it’s estimated that 7 million individuals 12 years of age and older abused illegal drugs or were dependent on them. In 2007, there were 6.9 million people. Overdoses, drug related accidents, alcohol related accidents and illness due to drug mixing are just a few reasons hospitals, physicians and emergency rooms are affected on a daily basis.
Outdoor cannabis (marijuana) and production of methamphetamines has the most impact on our environment. Many of the chemicals that are used when producing methamphetamine are extremely flammable. Fires and explosions at illegal clandestine laboratories due to improper use and disposal of chemicals cause serious damage to the environment not to mention the cost of cleaning this mess up. There are also many toxic chemicals used in producing methamphetamine, between 5 to 7 pounds of waste per pound of meth is dumped in fields, streams, forests, and sewer systems. Again, the damage is severe and the cost to clean this mess up has to come from somewhere. Drug use, effects everyone in one way or another.
Marijuana cultivation especially on public land is increasingly causing damage to the environment. Watersheds are altered; vegetation is destroyed, non-biodegradable garbage and materials are dumped, some of this goes into our natural water supply. Chemicals also enter the ground and contaminate water, kill fish and wildlife and eventually our residential water supply is affected. This has to be cleaned up and cost a lot of money to do it.
Drug related deaths, illness and injury effects productivity in this country. Many have to leave their jobs due to imprisonment as well. Health related productivity is also associated with drug use. Many individuals enter residential drug treatment programs or admitted to hospitals for drug treatment, this impacts the labor force. Other losses include hospitalization of victims due to drug related crimes. Drug related unemployment and absenteeism also relates to productivity loss.
Many commit crimes in order to have money to buy drugs. The complete criminal justice system is affected by drug related crimes. Substance abuse within the criminal justice population is widespread. Data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation shows that in 2008 12.2 percent of more than 14 million arrests were for drug violations. The proportion of drug arrests has increased over the past 20 years. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 20 percent of state prisoners and 53 percent of federal prisoners are incarcerated because of a drug offence.
For the most part, the availability of illicit drugs in the United States is increasing. Heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana and MDMA (Ecstasy) is very widespread and in some areas, is also escalating. The availability of most drugs will increase in 2010 mainly because drug production in Mexico is increasing.
There are many states that have laws to protect children from the consequences or results of drug trafficking, production and abuse. Mostly associated with methamphetamine production, these children are not only exposed to abuse and neglect but think about it, they’re also exposed to fires, explosions and the health hazards of being exposed to toxic chemicals. In 2009, there were 980 children that were reported to the El Paso Intelligence Center that were affected by methamphetamine laboratories. 8 of them were injured and 2 of them were killed at the labs. This doesn’t include the young children that were killed by random gunfire that’s associated with drug activity. It also doesn’t include children that were physically or sexually abused by a caretaker that was involved in drug trafficking or under the influence of drugs.
On May 13, 2010 the U.S. Department of Justice sent out a drug alert for possible Heroin and Fentanyl combinations. The street names are Kill or Keel. The New Jersey Department of Health personnel reported 2 incidences of a substance referred to as Kill or Keel that appeared in their area. They believe this substance to be possibly heroin that’s laced with another substance, probably fentanyl. Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate about 50 times more potent than heroin.
Levamisole is a pharmaceutical agent that’s used to de-worm livestock. This pharmaceutical agent has been added to cocaine since the latter part of 2007. Before the year 2008, there was less than 10 percent of this agent in cocaine samples that were tested. By the year 2009, 71 percent of the cocaine samples that were tested contained levamisole. Investigators are convinced that the Colombian traffickers are adding this agent during the production process; it’s probably to enhance the effects of the cocaine.
Levamisole can be very dangerous to humans, and extremely dangerous to anyone with a weak immune system. Did you know that ingesting this agent can cause a fatal blood disorder called agranulocytosis? There have already been at least 20 confirmed cases of agranulocytosis as well as 2 deaths associated with cocaine that’s been mixed with levamisole. The result of abusing levamisole is so dangerous and serious, that in September of 2009 the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) issued a nationwide public alert on the effects of this pharmaceutical agent.
Personally speaking, I think this information should be plastered on billboards throughout the world. Drug use and abuse fully impacts each and every one of us. It’s not just ‘The User’s Problem’ anymore.
U.S. Department of Justice
National Drug Intelligence Center
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