Every society has its drug abusers. These have a variety of effects, many of which are negative, from lost productivity to health problems to people simply being less happy. In spite of numerous laws and regulations, drug abuse has never been eradicated, and it has a number of effects that bear discussion.
Alcohol and Long Term Effects
Alcohol is the most commonly-abused drug, partly because it is legal and partly because abuse is much more socially-acceptable than the abuse of other drugs. It has been connected with liver disease as long-term alcohol abuse puts the liver through more strain than it can handle. In order to compensate for this, the liver will swell, which is both uncomfortable and less-functional than a standard-sized liver.
Long term alcohol abuse has also been connected to heart problems and weak immune systems. On a societal scale, this puts a strain on both the economy and on healthcare resources, as sick alcoholics cannot work and therefore cannot add value to their employers’ firms. What’s more, they monopolize medical resources that could go elsewhere.
Alcohol and Short-Term Effects
There are also a number of short-term effects from alcohol abuse. 60% of all assaults were connected with alcohol intake, as are 80% of all fire-and-drowning-related deaths.
Another seldom thought-of drug is caffeine, which 80 to 90% of Americans use on a daily basis. If someone is addicted to caffeine he or she will become headachey and irritable when they do not have access to it. These are fairly negligible effects, though – caffeine does not make people violent, nor is it connected with as much heart disease or other general ill health as alcohol is.
While the precise figures are obviously unavailable, statisticians estimate that 20% of Americans have at one stage used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons. A number of drugs – such as tranquilizers an stimulants – are used recreationally. Since there are so many prescription drugs it is difficult to ascertain their abuse’s effect on society, but it is safe to assume that they are similar to other drugs, resulting in ill health, dependence and a general alienation from the community as a whole.
While illegal drugs get the most space in the media, they are actually not as commonly used or abused as legal ones are. This is simply because they are more expensive and less available. They still do have detrimental effects, though, ranging from physical effects to mental health problems to a user generally relying on the drugs more than he relies on the people around him.