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Independent medical expert answers
on psychiatry and psychology

Drugs effect on society

Abstract: Substance abuse (drug abuse) has as effect on society: Poorer lives, disease and crime.

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Drugs effect on society

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Question(s): 
Written by: Jacob Palme, professor, Stockholms Universitet
First version: 10 Jun 2007.
Latest revision: 17 Aug 2015.

What effect has drugs and alcohol on society, on the economy, on young people and on others.

Answer:

  • Drugs and alcohol is one way of not meeting and solving the problems of life. When people do not solve their problems, society will work less well. Read more about causes of substance abuse.
  • Drugs and alcohol can cause effects like illnesses, which can be expensive for society to cure, for example lung cancer caused by cigarette smoking, mental illness like psychoses or neurological illnesses.
  • Use of alochol or narcotics during pregnancy will increase the likelihood of children with bad school results and, when grown up, unemployed.
  • The high costs of narcotics abuse can cause economic catastrophe for the addict.
  • The high costs often cause other criminality, which causes extensive damage.
  • Alcohol and drugs can make people behave in unsafe, irresponsible and aggressive way, and are therefore forbidden in combination with driving motorcars, ships, etc.
  • Medicines prescribed by medical doctors can make life easer to live and prevent crime. This is true, also for narcotics like methadon to people who already are heroin addicts. These medicines are similar to heroin, but do not prevent the user from working. For some people with severe anxiety problems, methadon could be a good medicine, if it were allowed as medicine in these cases. They do however have side effects, for example sexual problems, and there can be problems with needing more and more of the same medicine to get the desired effect.

There are other medicines similar to methadone, such as Subutex, subuxone, LAMM (levo-alpha acetylmethadol), buprenex, naloxone.

Because of the bad effects of narcotics on people and society, most countries make selling and using narcotics illegal, except sometimes as a medicine under strict control.

Opioids, usually combined with pregabalin and/or amitriptylin, is the best medicine for some serious pain. It is not generally known to non-experts, that surgery can cause pain lasting for many years after the surgery.

Because narcotics are outlawed in most countries, they cause problems with risk of being punished by the police and legal system. These problems, however, will not occur if the same drug is legally prescriped by a doctor. They are thus not caused by the drug, but by the legal system. Not outlawing narcotics, would however cause problems with more people using the narcotics, and all the other problems as described above. A few countries and states within the USA have chosen to not make marijuana illegal. But this is only for the narcotic marijuana, not for other narcotics, and only in those countries. And marijuana has lots of health risks, so legalizaiton of marijuana is a very controversial issue.

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