Shoreline Sober Living, San Diego, CA
Social effects of drug abuse on the community

America’s drug overdose problem has led to devastating consequences throughout the past few decades as data from the CDC reveals, “From 1999 to 2017, more than 702,000 people have died from a drug overdose”. Without any clear resolutions to be put in place for the near future, the situation appears to be getting progressively worse. With communities devastated by drugs and addiction, we pose the question, What social effects does drug abuse have on the community?

Higher Costs

The overall costs including health care of drug and substance abuse via publicly funded channels cost American taxpayers vast sums annually. Figures such as alcohol abuse, reported by DrugAbuse in 2010, claim to reach up to an estimated $249 billion for the year.

Health CareOverallYear Estimate Based On
Alcohol$27 billion$249 billion2010
Illicit Drugs$11 billion$193 billion2007
Prescription Opioids$26 billion$78.5 billion2013

Individuals with substance use disorders (SUD)s are unlikely to adhere to treatment programs and/or medical advice. If these types of treatment facilities are not being utilized, the lack of take up results in higher healthcare costs. Furthermore individuals are still likely to require treatment at a later stage, amounting to yet further costs for the health care sector.

Breakdown of Family

Families construct huge parts of our society and when looking at individual cases in depth, the effects of drug abuse among the household environment can lead to devastating consequences. Drug and substance abuse has been shown to contribute towards various breakdowns of relationships and situations throughout the family including:

  • Divorce
  • Mental illness among children and adolescences
  • Evictions
  • Domestic abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Theft
  • Trust

Research suggests that substance abusers, if not financially equipped, are considerably more likely to steal from a close family member or relative. Once this information is known to the victim, major trust issues start to arise. Stealing is not the only instance in which trust can also be lost; even showing signs of deceptiveness such as avoiding questions, lying or being distant has been identified as characteristics that could lead to a loss of trust among previously close and supportive family members.

Continuous use of drugs or substances can have varied effects on the user; leading to different behavioral patterns emerging. It is not uncommon to see those suffering from drug or alcohol addiction isolating themselves from loves ones, friends or family.


The workplace should always be a safe environment for you and your colleagues to work in. An overall increase in substance abusers is likely to cause higher chances of encountering those suffering from substance abuse; both in or around the vicinity of the workplace. These types of interactions can potentially cause disparity among employees and even lead towards the possibility of job losses.


Vagrancy, also known as homelessness, is another prime example of how drug abuse can have devastating effects on the community as a whole. There has been a direct correlation between illegal drug overdoses (indicating a higher volume of drug offenders) and the amount of vagrant people in America. In 2019, the White House released statistics stating the overall homeless population on a single night represents 0.2 percent of the U.S. population, or 17 people per 10,000 in the population. An increase in homelessness among the community leads to breakdowns in both social and economical pillars of society.

Crime Rates

A safe neighborhood is one of the most important factors when looking at somewhere to live. A true reflection of how safe a neighborhood is, crime rates are often monitored. The effects that drug and substance abuse has among communities has undoubtedly led to increases in overall crime rates, specifically petty theft. Of those suffering from addiction, it is known those who take harder substances i.e. heroin and opioids are disproportionately more likely to be involved in criminal activity.

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Health Care Providers

Private health care for drugs and substance abuse such as sober living homes has been fueling the most advanced types of care with extremely promising recovery rates. Find out more about how our transitional homes can help achieve sobriety for those suffering from addiction. In contract, governmental bodies throughout the health care space have been reluctant to intervene with the effects that drugs have on the community as drugs and substance abuse has been classified under both the social and criminal sectors.