Why Drugs Are Bad

Illicit substance use is common in American society. Roughly 13% of all Americans are using drugs at any given point in time. Many Americans have easy access to drugs. Everyone should know exactly why using drugs is bad. Here’s a list of the many potentially serious consequences that can happen when you choose to ingest illicit substances.

Health Risks Associated With Drugs

People who use illicit substances are at increased risk of many kinds of potentially serious short term and long term adverse health effects. These effects can impact both your mental and physical health.

Physical Health Risks

Those who use cocaine are at increased risk of dangerous health conditions including asthma and a decaying bowel.

Using meth can lead to permanent damage to your heart and brain. Meth use can increase your blood pressure. Meth can also damage the liver and your kidneys.

Illicit opioid use can increase your blood pressure and increase your chance of a heart attack and stroke. Seniors who use these substances may be at risk of confusion and therefore at great risk of dangerous falls.

Marijuana use is legal in many places but it can also lead to problems such as decreased blood flow to the brain and thus decreased cognitive health.

Mental Health Risks

Many illicit substances cause mental health issues when used a single time. When used longer, these substances cause even greater mental health problems.

People who use cocaine may have short term problems such as hallucinations and feelings of anxiety and depression. Long term use of cocaine can lead to an increased risk of developing psychosis or paranoia as well as problems with panic disorders and depression.

Those who use amphetamine and methamphetamine are at increased risk of drug induced psychosis.

Ecstasy users are at increased risk of both depression and anxiety.

People who use heroin are at increased risk of a loss of focus and concentration.

Using LSD can make your existing mental health issues worsen. If you have problems with depression, anxiety or you have a formal diagnosis such as bipolar disorder, using LSD can lead to a further increase in symptoms.

Drug Overdose

Drug overdoses have become an increasing problem in the United States. The number of Americans overdosing has increased by 34.4% in the last five years.

People between the ages of 25 and 34 are most likely to have a drug overdose.

Opioid deaths in this age group have seen a 38% increase from 2019 to 2020. The number of opioid deaths in this age group has increased more than 1,312% 1999.

7 out of 10 of all opioid deaths are men. However, the number of women who are at risk from an overdose has increased by 1,326%.

Social Risks of Drugs

From 2002 to 2004, Americans who were in the workforce full time between the ages of 18 and 64 and used illicit drugs were more than twice as likely to change employers.

Full time workers who use drugs were 16.4% more likely to have missed two or more days at work in the previous month than their peers.

Students who use marijuana on a regular basis report lower grades and decreased abilities to engage in writing and math tasks.

Legal Issues

Federal law prohibits the possession, use, or distribution of any form of illegal drugs. That means you can’t use substances like cocaine legally. You also can’t give them to other people or sell them.

Those who use illicit substances face many legal consequences. These consequences can decrease your chances of employment and increase your chances of spending time in prison or jail.

A drug user may end up with a permanent legal record as a felon that cannot be erased.

Drug users may also be subject to heavy fines that can impede their ability to do things such as save money, buy a house, and apply for higher education loans.

The Controlled Substances Act provides the same kind of penalties for users of marijuana and other types of hallucinogens as it does for those who use narcotics like heroin and meth. Users who distribute these substances to their friends or sell them may face five years or more in federal prison.

Financial Struggles

Illicit substances are expensive. People who use them may spend much of their money on drugs. Hiring a lawyer to defend you if you are caught using or distributing drugs can be costly and eat into your savings.

If you’ve been convicted of a drug offense and have a felony, you may be denied access to a mortgage. You can also be turned down for some types of jobs. A prior record of substance abuse can lead to being denied a promotion at work.

Impact On Society

Drug use has a massive impact on many areas of American society. People who use drugs may engage in all kinds of illegal activities such as driving under the influence. They will also need expensive treatment to overcome their drug addiction.

Drug-Related Crime

12.2% of arrests in the United States were related to drug use. Only 7.4% of arrests were related to drug use in 1987.

More than a million and a half people were arrested for some form of drug possession in 2020.

People who use drugs are more than three times as likely to be arrested for other crimes as people who do not use such illicit substances.

More than 1 in 8 American children under the age of 14 reports being approached by someone trying to sell them drugs in the past year.

Overcrowded Prisons

20% of all state prisoners were behind bars solely because of a drug-related offense. 53% of all people in federal prisons are there because of a drug-related offense.

85% of the American prison population has at least one form of substance abuse disorder.

Increased Healthcare Costs

Experts estimate that Americans spent more than $6.4 billion treating people who used illicit drugs in 2009. By 2020, the costs of treating those with substance abuse disorders have doubled to more than $15 billion annually.

Researchers estimate over $2 billion was spent in the United States to treat people with opioid use disorder.

14% of all emergency room visits in the United States were related in some way to illicit substance abuse.

10% of all hospital stays in the United States were related to illicit substance abuse in 2020.

People who use illicit substances take an average of 2 days longer to recover from illnesses than those who don’t use these substances.

A single day of treatment can cost over $100 per patient. However, if left unchecked, the user may be at risk of other, more costly conditions such as heart attack and stroke.

Users who began using illicit substances at an early age such as before twelve were more likely to find it harder to shake. They were also more likely to run up larger healthcare bills to treat their addiction.

Prevention And Treatment

Preventing people from using illicit substances is cheaper than treating people who have become addicted. Officials estimate each dollar spent on preventing drug use saves at least $15 in treatment costs.

25% of all drug users will be able to kick the habit after their first effort at treatment.

75% of all people who use illicit substances will be able to stop using these substances after more than one round of treatment.

Seeking Help And Support

Varied forms of help are available for those who want to stop using them. Drug users may choose between inpatient and outpatient services. Inpatient services allow the person with a substance abuse disorder to get help onsite. Outpatient services allow the person with this issue to get help while staying at home and even working part-time during the treatment process.


Using illicit substances may feel freeing at first. People who like to take risks can delight in doing something that has such obvious risks. Those who move in social circles in which substance use is common and readily available may feel they are missing out on social connections if they refuse to partake. It’s fun to be part of a group.

However, the risks of drug use outweigh any benefits. People who use drugs are at risk of being arrested, convicted, and winding up with a permanent criminal record. Those who use drugs are also at many kinds of health risks. If you have an underlying mental health condition, using these substances can put you at further risk of additional mental health issues. People who use drugs also put their overall health at risk. Those who use these illicit substances face risks to many organs including the heart and lungs.

That’s why it’s best to avoid using illicit substances in the first place. If you don’t use drugs you won’t need substance abuse treatment. You can live your life without worrying about this issue.


  1. https://www.rethink.org/advice-and-information/about-mental-illness/learn-more-about-conditions/drugs-alcohol-and-mental-health/
  2. https://www.samhsa.gov/adult-drug-use
  3. https://www.turnbridge.com/news-events/latest-articles/legal-consequences-of-addiction/
  4. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/ondcp/ondcp-fact-sheets/how-illicit-drug-use-affects-business-and-the-economy 

Related Articles