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Effects of Drug and Alcohol Abuse on Society

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Illegal drug use, alcohol abuse, and smoking cause numerous deaths and have serious economic and social consequences in the United States.

The negative effects of addiction and substance abuse affect not only those who use, but also their family members, friends, co-workers, and the community as a whole.

Homeless Individuals

About one-third of homeless people in the U.S. abuse drugs or alcohol.

Domestic Violence

More than three-quarters of domestic violence cases involve a person using alcohol or drugs.

Child Abuse and Neglect

Substance abuse by parents is a factor in 50-80 percent of child abuse and neglect cases, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Children placed in foster care as a result of their parents’ drug abuse cost about $904 million in 2005.


About 70 percent of state prisoners and 57 percent of federal prisoners reported using drugs on a regular basis before being incarcerated, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).

Government Spending

Government spending related to smoking, alcohol abuse, and illegal drug use reached $468 billion in 2005, according to a report released by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. Most of this money went toward direct health care costs and law enforcement expenses, while only slightly more than 2 percent was spent on prevention, treatment, and research.

Sources: Livestrong, New York Times