Statistics show that only a quarter of those addicted to opiates has undergone rehabilitation programs with varying degrees of success. Untreated opiate-addicted individuals are much younger than those who have sought some form of detoxification or counseling. Unfortunately, the late teens coincide with the formative years. Early adulthood is wasted on what could have been productive and reproductive occupational years. The economic costs of addiction is not only due to the direct medical costs resulting from treatment, hospitalization and counseling but should be computed with loss of productivity. Opiate-addicted individuals are prone to absences, tardiness and poor or erratic work performance.
“The financial costs of untreated opiate dependence to the family, and society are estimated to be approximately $20 billion per year. The costs in human suffering are incalculable.”
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Users generally suffer from poor health because of the effects of opiates in the system and poor nutrition. Engaging in drug use and being perpetually high enables them to ignore symptoms until the disease is fairly advanced or the pain debilitating. Being constantly on pain killers may also mask the symptoms of other diseases such as cancer. According to U.S. statistics, the incidence of bacterial infection (including skin diseases, endocarditis, thrombophlebitis), tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases and hepatitis are much higher in the untreated group, not to mention the ill-effects suffered by the unborn fetus and babies who are born with withdrawal symtoms. Because users seek medical care at a late stage, costs are higher. In 1997, health costs of untreated opiate addiction were initially estimated at $1.2 billion per year – a figure that has ballooned since then to over $20 billion.
In Sickness and Health
Individuals married to narcotics suffer the partnership’s grim consequences for years without seeking help. The death rate of those in treatment is 30 percent lower than those who are actively using.
On a positive note, those who are being rehabilitated holistically (e.g. Waismann Method) hardly relapse even with other illicit drugs such as cocaine or marijuana. There is also reduced abuse of alcohol, downers and uppers. Consequently, there is a reduction in drug-related deaths, hospitalizations or accidents.
In 1997, NIH came out with a shocking statement that 95% of opiate-addicted individuals admitted committing crimes of varying severity over an 11 year “at risk” interval period. Think of homicides, burglaries and theft – quite a number can be attributed to perpetrators who are desperate for a fix no matter what. It stands to reason that getting users to voluntarily seek rehabilitation in successfully implemented programs reduces crime rates significantly.
Apart from the obvious spending on drugging, treatment, and litigation if arrested, loss of productivity and welfare costs should be included in summing up the financial consequences of addiction. With much of their time engaged in procuring and using drugs, there is little time to concentrate on whatever employment is on hand. Most users cannot maintain steady employment and are unable to support themselves or their families. However, studies show that those who seek treatment earn at least twice that of those actively using – encouraging news for those who are vacillating to go into treatment.