Drugs drag America backward. More than 70,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2019, including from misused prescriptions. That’s nearly double the rate of deaths in 2010. 

Few people would dispute that drugs negatively affect society. But the sheer number of societal problems caused by drugs often passes unnoticed. 

How do drugs impact the human body? How do they damage familial and workplace relationships? How do they contribute to crime and environmental damage? 

Answer these questions, and you can understand the true effects of drugs on society. Here is your quick guide. 

Ill Health

Drug issues cause ill health in several different ways. The brain has several mechanisms to induce someone to commit productive behaviors. When a person eats a delicious meal or falls in love, the brain transmits a stimulating hormone called dopamine. 

Drugs also encourage the production of dopamine. But over time, the brain can become dependent on drugs to make, transmit, and receive dopamine.

This causes dependency and emotional problems. A person may suffer from anhedonia, feeling a lack of pleasure from activities that stimulate them. 

Each drug has its own impact on other parts of the body. Opioids can slow someone’s breathing down to the point that they lose consciousness and die. Cocaine can cause heart muscles to become stiff, inducing a heart attack. 

Many people consider psychedelic drugs like LSD and mushrooms to be “safe.” But someone can go on a bad trip, causing them to harm themselves. 

The medical costs of drug addiction are substantial. Americans lose more than $400 billion every year, most of it from healthcare expenditures.


One person’s drug use can have ramifications for their entire family. If someone does drugs in front of their family members, they may distress or alienate them. Being high or drunk at family gatherings is stressful as well. 

A child who lives with a parent who has an addiction may have great trouble growing up. They may become neglected or abused.

They may develop an addiction of their own, even at an early age. Peer pressure is always dangerous with addiction, but pressure from family members is especially problematic. A child finds it hard to resist when their parent offers them alcohol or drugs. 

A parent whose child has an addiction may encounter trouble disciplining them. Their child may be absent from the house for long periods of time. They may bring strangers home, who may steal from the house or insult their parents. 

Some people may start using drugs to deal with difficulties in their personal lives. This may provide a temporary fix, but it will eventually make their problems worse. They don’t use problem-solving strategies to resolve the tension, relying instead on a harmful crutch. 

Workplace Issues 

People who use drugs have far less productivity in the workplace than others. The average worker misses 15 days a year due to illness or injury. But someone with a substance use disorder misses an average of 24.6 days

Training an employee can cost thousands of dollars. If someone with addiction leaves work early, they cost their employer a lot of money. Many people with addictions quit their jobs because they can’t meet their job requirements. 

Some people manage to hold a job while they maintain addictions. They may come across as high-functioning, but they are still suffering from addiction. 

They may become dependent on an illicit substance to perform well. If they lose their access to drugs, their job performance may suffer.

They may be unable to travel or attend to major tasks with consuming drugs. This can endanger clients, especially if the employee takes drugs and starts driving them.  


Drug use can inspire someone to commit crimes. They may steal money or belongings from their relatives to cover the cost of more drugs. In rare cases, employees steal petty cash from their companies to buy drugs. 

65 percent of the American prison population has a substance use disorder. Some of them developed an addiction after being incarcerated. But at least 20 percent of prisoners were under the influence when they committed their crimes. 

Being high or drunk can lead someone to commit a crime. Drugs can impair a person’s decision-making abilities, leading them toward risky choices. They may feel fewer inhibitions, believing that they are free to do whatever they wanted. 

Environmental Damage 

Methamphetamine production has great environmental risks. It relies on toxic chemicals that can spill onto the ground, seeping into groundwater and underground habitats. Fumes can pollute the air, causing contact highs and lung damage. 

Cannabis production is predominantly outdoors. Cannabis plants can become an invasive species, denying water to native plants. Cultivators may dam streams, so individual plants receive water. 

Farmers have cleared massive areas of forest to develop coca plants for cocaine. They then use pesticides to tend to their plants, killing whatever native trees remain. 

Most chemicals used to produce drugs are flammable. One spark can burn a drug laboratory to the ground while spewing toxins into the air. 

How Drugs Negatively Affect Society 

Drugs negatively affect society in more ways than one. They reroute dopamine in the brain and hurt heart and lung function. 

They can pull parents and children apart from each other. Children may witness their parents using drugs; then, they start to use them themselves. 

Workers with addictions are less productive and more likely to lose their jobs. They are also more likely to commit crimes. Growing and producing drugs pollutes the ground and destroys water resources. But these impacts are reversible. Healthy Life Recovery is a San Diego Drug Rehab Center that provides addiction treatment resources for people in need. Contact us today.

Call Now