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The Societal Cost of Drug Addiction

Updated: Jul 6, 2021

Drug addiction is a serious issue in the United States. About 21 million Americans struggle with some form of drug addiction, but only 10% receive any kind of treatment. One of the most popular, and costly drug addictions, is alcoholism. The Addiction Center reports that “On average, 30 Americans die every day in an alcohol-related car accident, and six Americans die every day from alcohol poisoning.” That’s 36 people each day that die from alcohol use. In 2017, 70,237 American’s died of a drug overdose, which is over double the number of fatal overdoses in 2010. Sadly, many of those who use and die of a drug-related incident, like alcohol-related car accident or overdose, are young adults. Death is detrimental. And the end of life isn’t the only societal cost of drug addiction.

Drug use of any kind costs our society in medical care costs. According to DrugAbuse.Gov, Tobacco use alone requires $168 billion in medical care each year. As a society, we all pay for the negative health effects of drug use and abuse. Our taxes go towards fixing damaged property and emergency services. The money you pay into health insurance is put towards paying for drug-related doctor and hospital visits. Our taxes go towards keeping drug-offense felons in prison and on parole or probation, which isn’t just a loss of money for our society, but a loss of productivity. In the case of domestic violence, men become more violent towards their partner when using drugs, and in some cases ultimately murder their partner or children.

There’s no way around it. We all want to believe that the drug user is the only one affected by drug use. But the truth is we are all impacted negatively by drug use and especially addiction. That’s why we are thankful for all the hardworking people out there who help individuals overcome drug addiction.

You can have a positive impact on someone who uses drugs. Positive social support is one of the biggest contributors to someone overcoming an addiction. We’d encourage you to find a professional to help you figure out how best to help someone with an addiction. Start by calling SAMHSA’s mental health and substance use hotline. It’s a free informational resource that can help you answer every question you have.

Also consider donating or volunteering with a non-profit organization that helps people with drug use. Just search “substance abuse nonprofit near me” to find your local nonprofit.

Want to Help People in Need?

  • Donate | We use your money to help run our programs, and provide training that helps organizations and individuals make their way to self-sufficiency. You can donate on our web page or find an agencies local to you.

  • Volunteer | We can’t do this alone. Join us! Find one of our agencies in your county and check out their website for volunteer opportunities.

  • Become a Member | Did you know you can become a Community Action Member? Membership provides discounted tickets to our various events, an inside look into our organization and more. Membership fees start at only $25 a year for an individual, or $300 for an agency.

  • Partner with Us | We are humbled by the many non-profit and for-profit organizations that partner with us to bring services, educations and events to North Carolina. If your organization is looking for a non-profit to partner with, please consider us. Email us at We would love to hear from you!

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