Is a Drug User Only Hurting Himself?

an upset couple

When pinned down by his family and told that he (or she) needs to go to rehab, many addicted people will complain that the family just needs to leave him alone because, after all, “I’m only hurting myself.”

How could the addicted person even say this? After all, it’s obvious to the family that he’s hurting them. Their hearts are breaking. They worry every time the phone rings. Their pocketbooks are emptied after having to cover medical and legal costs of the addicted person, time after time.

But to the addicted person, it seems true at that moment. That’s the way she feels. She’s isolated herself from those she loves and in many cases, only associates with other people who are using drugs or drinking. And drug use lowers awareness as well as one’s sense of responsibility for others or oneself. It’s easy for the family to see these changes – very difficult for the individual.

Obvious Signs of Much Greater Damage as Well

If you step back for a moment and look at the greater damage of drug abuse or alcoholism, it’s not limited to the individual and his immediate family. The community, the country, and even the whole world struggles with the burden of alcoholism and drug abuse.

According to the World Health Organization’s annual report on alcohol consumption and alcoholism, more than two million people per year lose their lives due to alcohol-related problems. The United Nations estimates that more than 180,000 people died due to their drug abuse in 2012.

In addition to all these deaths, there are millions of mothers, fathers, siblings, spouses, and children who will be incapacitated by their grief. Some will never fully recover.

A Sample of Drug Fighting Costs from One Community

With all this devastation resulting from drug and alcohol abuse, there is always a financial cost to society to try to save these addicted lives, prosecute criminals, clean up drug manufacturing sites and all the other ways drug trafficking and use results in costs.

meth lab chemicals
The kinds of dangerous, caustic chemicals found in a methamphetamine lab.

A report from the Tulsa, Oklahoma Police Department in 2011 provided a look at the way just one drug impacted that community with overwhelming costs. The drug was methamphetamine, a drug that ravages city and rural areas across the Midwest. Tulsa has more than its share of people who think it’s a good idea to cook a little meth in their house, apartment or trailer, resulting in toxic contamination, explosions and fires, arrests, children placed in foster care and other types of mop-up needed.

Based on the US Drug Czar’s estimate of cleanup, law enforcement, prosecution, incarceration, child welfare and property damage costs, each meth lab found comes with an average price tag of $350,000. In the 26 months ending in March 2011, the Tulsa Police Department estimated their methamphetamine-related costs at a staggering $118,560,000.

It’s easy to see the massive benefits to communities and countries around the world if the drug problem could be eliminated. There would be hundreds of millions of dollars available for schools, parks, science or civil engineering projects to benefit health and other public needs.

Helping Your Addicted Loved One

When you’re trying to save a loved one from overdose or drug-related accident or injury, these figures are not what matters. What does matter is that your loved one finds a rehab that helps him discover that life can be worth living again once drugs are left behind. For tens of thousands of people around the world, Narconon has provided the helping hand that pulled them out of that dangerous life and put them on a new sober path toward better survival.

When you have a loved one you need to get on this new path, contact Narconon and learn all about this drug-free rehabilitation program.


Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.