BOX 7.1 Consequences of Drug Abuse

HIV/AIDS

It now appears that injection drug use is the leading risk factor for new human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections in the U.S. (Holmberg, 1996). Drug and alcohol abuse heightens the risk for unsafe sexual behavior and is a factor in perinatal transmission of HIV.

TB

Tuberculosis (TB) rates have increased significantly among drug-using populations, especially drug-resistant TB in HIV-infected drug users.

Other diseases and illnesses

Injection drug users (IDUs) are more likely to develop serious infections and illnesses (e.g., viral hepatitis, endocarditis, pneumonia, other bacterial infections) than the non-IDU population due to the harmful effects of drug injection and their infrequent use of primary medical care services. Additionally, some forms of psychiatric disorders may result in part from drug abuse (e.g., depression, PCP-precipitated psychosis).

Fetal and child development

Drug abuse can impact the health of the developing fetus and child. Consequences include retardation of fetal growth, fetal alcohol syndrome, neonatal withdrawal syndrome, and neonatal neurobehavioral affects.

Violence and crime

Violence and crime are linked to illicit drug abuse through the often violent nature of drug sales and distribution. Additionally, some drug addicts resort to theft to support their drug habits. Pharmacological effects of drug abuse associated with violent actions may occur de novo or with predating co-occurring psychiatric disorders.

Violence and crime are linked to illicit drug abuse through the often violent nature of drug sales and distribution. Additionally, some drug addicts resort to theft to support their drug habits. Pharmacological effects of drug abuse associated with violent actions may occur de novo or with predating co-occurring psychiatric disorders.

Public safety

Drug abuse plays a role in numerous transportation or other accidents. For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 40.8 percent of traffic fatalities were alcohol related (NHTSA, 1995).

Loss of human capital

Drug abuse can have devastating impacts on an individual's potential (e.g., school delinquency, dropping out of school, involvement in illicit drug selling), thus reducing future educational and job opportunities.

Workplace

Employee drug use, particularly heavy use or abuse, has been found to be associated with increased absenteeism, accidents, job turnover, counterproductive behavior, and job dissatisfaction (NRC, 1994). However, drug abuse does not occur in isolation, and other related life-style behaviors are strongly correlated with employment difficulties.



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