Illegal Drugs: Threat to the Society


According to the American College of Emergency Physicians [ACEP] (2011), one of the major threats that the American society is exposed to emanates from illegal drugs. This is given the various health complications that addiction to these drugs leads to. Other authorities such as the National Drugs Intelligence Centre (herein referred to as NDIC) report other threats that are posed to the American society by illegal drugs. These are for example economic and social implications of the drugs.

From the above overview, it is obvious that the threat from illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin among others is more dangerous to society than the threats from other crimes such as human trafficking and dealings in illegal goods and services. This is given the fact that the effects of these drugs transcend individual persons and organizations, and affects the whole society.

Use of illegal drugs puts the health of the drug user and the whole society at stake. According to ACEP (2011), about 638,484 emergencies that emanated from use of illegal drugs were reported in America in 2001 alone. This was an increase of 75 percent in a decade, considering that only 371,208 such cases were reported in 1990 (ACEP, 2011). In the year 2000, almost twenty thousand people lost their lives as a result of illegal drug complications (Treatment Centers, 2011).

The use of illegal drugs such as heroine and others that are injected can lead to spread of infectious diseases such as HIV (NDIC, 2001). This occurs when individuals share the needles they use to inject themselves. This puts the whole society at risk, something that is not evident in other criminal activities such as human trafficking.

Economic Threats

There are people such as Barth (2010) who are of the view that illegal drugs cause no significant harm to the society. But this is not the case, especially when one considers the economic impacts of illegal drugs. According to NDIC (2011), the cost of illegal drugs on American society totaled $193 billion in the year 2007. These are costs that are associated with the effects of these drugs on certain spheres of the society such as health and productivity.

It is important to note that other crimes such as dealing in counterfeit goods has economic impacts, such as lose of revenue on the part of the organization. However, these impacts are limited to the organization, and affect the whole society minimally. However, the impacts illegal drugs has on the economy are widespread.

Drug addicts are less productive, as they are unable to carry out any economically productive activity such as holding a job. In 2007, NDIC (2010) estimates that about 49 million dollars was lost from the economy as a result of the failure and inability of drug addicts to participate in labor. Other costs are associated with the resources spent by family members and the government in rehabilitating the drug addicts, and in fighting the trade in those drugs.

Other Impacts of Illegal Drugs

There are other impacts that are associated with illegal drugs in the society. For example, illegal drugs lead to increase in rates of crime in the society. Drug addicts will steal to get money to fund their habit. Addicts of drugs such as methamphetamine are found to be violent when they are undergoing “tweaks”, which are their status when the effect of the drug wears off. At such points, the addicts may commit offences such as homicide. The magnitude of illegal drugs’ impacts in the society is undergirded by the fact that it may lead to the other crimes such as human trafficking and trade in illegal goods. According to NDIC (2001), it is noted that individuals who are illegally taken over border from México are forced to carry drugs across the border as forms of payment.


In conclusion, it is obvious from the above arguments that the threat of illegal drugs in American society is greater than those of other crimes. However, it is important to acknowledge that the other crimes also have effects in the society, albeit at a small scale.


American College of Emergency Physicians. (2011). Illegal drugs use. Web.

Barth, R. (2010). Re editorial: Illegal drugs pose real threat. Web.

National Drug Intelligence Centre. (2011). The economic impact of illicit drug use on American society. Web.

National Drug Intelligence Centre. (2001). American Samoa: Drug threat assessment. U.S. Department of Justice.

Treatment Centers. (2011). Drug addiction and society. Web.

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