How Drug Abuse is Perceived

by | Feb 14, 2018 | Addiction Treatment | 0 comments

If you’re addicted, you’re wondering how you got this way and at the same time, you’re concerned with how drug abuse is perceived by society. You’ve probably heard fairly negative comments about our society and how “everything is going down the tubes.” At first look, you might even agree with that sentiment. Drug abuse and addiction is a costly problem that affects our entire society, no matter what the socioeconomic status is of the users. It can affect the rich and poor, good families and broken families, and due to its pervasive nature, can affect small communities as well as large ones.

Drug Abuse: a Serious Health Problem

You may be surprised to learn the drug abuse is considered a health problem and not necessarily a problem of willpower. While it’s true that children are at risk during certain points of their lives, namely transitional times, such as going from junior high to high school, once the child has tried the drug, other factors may kick in. Children are often at risk for addiction when their parents aren’t involved in their lives, when the parents have been addicts themselves, or when the child has low self-esteem and is bullied. As adults, drugs and alcohol can wreak havoc on people’s lives, causing them to lose jobs, ruin their marriages, empty their bank accounts, and risk homelessness due to the lack of money and work. These numbers provide a sobering perspective as to how seriously pervasive drugs and alcohol are in our society.

How Drug Abuse Is Perceived

Experts estimate that in 2012 a little over 9 percent of people within our country are addicted to illegal drugs. This number accounts for almost 24 million Americans with a serious drug problem. The numbers continue to increase, part of which is due to an increase in marijuana usage. This is most likely due to decriminalization of the drug in certain states and the acceptance of medical marijuana. Marijuana usage has increased to almost 19 million users per month in 2012. In 2007, the estimated per month users was 14.4 million.

Other drug use has not increased appreciably or has declined, most likely due to education and law enforcement efforts.

The Cost of Drug Abuse

Drug abuse is one of our most costly problems as a society. Drug and alcohol abuse costs more than $484 billion a year in terms of lost earnings, crimes, accidents, and healthcare expenses. 82 percent of Americans consider drug abuse and addiction as an extremely serious health problem. As a nation, drug abuse costs more than cancer and diabetes combined. But unlike other diseases, drug abuse and addiction impacts other areas of society such as crime and violence, driving under the influence and causing vehicular crashes, and is highly related to child abuse.

Clearly, drug abuse is perceived as a serious problem, and one that Americans feel needs to be addressed in order to have a healthy society. Because drug abuse is so pervasive, it needs to be treated as the medical problem it is. Until we are able to address problems that potential addicts face, as a society we are more likely to see more substance abuse in the future.


  1. Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction, National Institute on Drug Abuse
  2. Monitoring the Future Study: Trends in Prevalence of Various Drugs, National Institute on Drug Abuse