Social Issue: The Effects of Drug Abuse

Mattie White, Jackson Steele, and Sam Smith


Over 100 people die from a drug overdose each day; this rate has been increasing for the past 20 years. Nicotine, although seeming like it would be one of the least harmful, actually is one of the most common addictions in the United States. There are 40 million addictions to tobacco only, causing it to be the most popular addiction; alcohol is the second leading with 18 million addictions. Drugs cause serious problems such as: mental disorders, psychosis, car accidents, bacterial and viral infections, violence, drug overdose, suicides, and death. Drugs cause more problems for law enforcement by increasing the crime rates. Addicts commit crimes to acquire money for their drugs. Once the drug enters the users system they become unstable and then are more likely to commit violence crimes. Statistics show that 13% of children live in a household where adults were abusing drugs, 24% live in a household where an adult is a heavy drinker, and 37% live in a household with adults using tobacco. As horrifying as these numbers are they continue to increase daily.

Many years ago in Alabama, drug abuse was mostly just a problem in larger cities such as Mobile and Birmingham but due to the mixtures of more rural and urban cities this problem has spread throughout the smaller cities and towns. One of the proliferating drug abuse problems is the abuse of prescription drugs. According to Addiction Center of Alabama, 5-7% of the state’s population abuses prescription drugs each year. Our state has one of the highest heroin addiction rates in the country. Although heroin is a major problem for the state, it is not the biggest problem. The most crucial drug that the state of Alabama has a problem with is marijuana.. In the past month, nearly 8% of residents reported are using illicit drugs and in 2010, 585 residents died due to drugs. These statistics continue to increase day by day, and there hasn’t been much hope for it to stop. We have tried to improve these numbers by passing laws and programs such as Block Grants for drug programs and the Alabama Acts.

I recently questioned our current sheriff, Mike Lambert, to gather more information on drug abuse in Escambia County, AL. He said that the biggest addiction problem that we have is between crystal meth and prescription drugs. There are several stages of punishments when found with the possession of an illegal drug. People that are found with possession of drugs for the first time are compelled into a drug rehab program and have the possibility to be convicted of a felony. The second offense the person will be convicted of a felony, put on probation, and placed on felony probation. The third offense they are convicted of a felony and are given prison time. Lambert say that the problem with drugs in our county is huge. On average 7 out of 10 of the people pulled over are arrested for possession an illegal drug.

We can improve our state’s well being and drug abuse problems by incorporating more drug free programs within our elementary and high schools. We should, as individuals aim to take a stand against drugs and be a mentor to the younger generation that is watching every action we take. Families and the relationships that you have, have an impact on drug influence as well. We advise to disconnect from friends or family that have a negative impact on you. With this we are not only talking about drugs; this goes for everything whether it be the abuse of drugs or lowering your grades by not studying. Increasing the number of programs that we have in our schools will ingrain the negative consequences of drugs into younger children. They will grow up knowing the consequences and reasons to refrain from them. Smart & Safe is one of the programs in Alabama that fights prescription drug abuse, which like Mike Lambert told us, is one of the leading addictions in our county. We also have the “D.A.R.E.” program in schools all over America. This program educates students on drug abuse resistance. Throughout the course it improves student’s decision making and attitudes towards drugs; while also improving social interaction between law enforcement, students, and schools. These programs continuously have a major impact on the younger generations. By multiplying the amount of programs we have in our school systems we can decrease the staggering numbers of drug addictions in our country.