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Chapter 4. Psychological Factors: Part 2

Florida Drug and Alcohol Test (TLSAE) Course: Chapter 4. Psychological Factors

4.2. Costs of Addictions, Including Alienation of Friends and Family

Section 4.2. Costs of Addictions, Including Alienation of Friends and Family

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that every injury in an alcohol-related collision costs an average of$$99,000, including $49,000 in monetary costs and $50,000 from loss of quality of life. The average cost of a fatality from an alcohol-related collision is $3.5 million: $1.1 million in monetary costs and $2.4 million in quality of life losses.








TOTAL COSTS $3,500,000

Alcohol-related collisions cost the American public about $114,300,000,000 per year.

About one-third of that is monetary costs, and the other two-thirds is quality of life losses.

(NHTSA: http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/alcohol/impaired-drivingusa/US.pdf)

Substance abuse and addiction have been called "public health enemy number one" in America. While this characterization is apt, it can obscure the broad range of problems they entail. From the medical perspective, there are more deaths and disabilities each year in the U.S. from substance abuse than from any other cause: 100,000 people die due to alcohol use, at least 19,000 die from illicit drug use and related AIDS complications, and more than 400,000 die from smoking tobacco cigarettes. In American, Study finds almost 70 percent of cigarette smokers want to quit on their first time, and more than half tried last year, but only 7% succeeded.

But mortality and morbidity alone do not convey the extent of the problem. The impact on social order and quality of life is staggering. Alcohol is a key factor in up to 68% of manslaughters, 62% of assaults, 54% of murders and attempted murders, 48% of robberies and 44% of burglaries.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), alcohol abuse is a significant factor in:
  • 68% of manslaughter cases
  • 62% of assault cases
  • 54% of murder or attempted murder cases
  • 48% of robbery cases
  • 44% of burglary cases
When people become addicted to alcohol or drugs, there is a cost. Even being addicted to a healthy, legal hobby will have a cost in terms of both time and money. Time formerly spent on other things will now be devoted to this new hobby. Drug addiction is very similar. Time once spent with family and friends will now be used in this unhealthy, negative world of addiction to drugs or alcohol. Family members' trust will diminish when obligations are not kept, and friends will know that they cannot rely on the addict the way they did at one time.

When a person gets a DUI, there is a cost as well, one being the loss of driving privileges. The social stigma of having a DUI or just the "monkey on the back" of an addiction often embarrass the addict, causing them to lie about where they were or what they were doing, which is a violation of personal trust. Trust and reliability of an employee are two of the biggest factors in job performance, and if you lose them, you could lose your job.

This brings us full circle. How many of you would want to hang out with unemployed, unhealthy addicts who can't keep a job, couldn't get there if they had a job, are late when you go to pick them up because they overslept, have no money (and probably want to borrow some of yours) even if they are your family?

People can only take so much. If you make poor choices, you can alienate yourself from your friends, family and employers. Addictions have a huge cost. Nobody ever planned on becoming an addict, but you can plan on NOT becoming one.

When a person is an alcoholic, the whole family is affected. The family must adjust to the ever-changing moods and behaviors of the alcoholic. Family members often blame themselves for the alcoholic's behavior, and the alcoholic blames the family for all of his or her woes. The family wonders if there is something they can do or change to make the alcoholic stop drinking. The family is fearful of the alcoholic's behavior and that the family may break up. There is constant disappointment and embarrassment. Families often feel isolated because of the unspoken rule not to discuss the problem with those outside the home.

Even trusted friends and family members are often not aware that there is a problem. Unfortunately, this code of silence only prolongs the problem and causes conflict and stress for the significant other and children. The way to break the cycle is to admit that alcohol is the problem and talk about it with the rest of the family. This can be a difficult and painful process and many times other family members are not willing to listen. Talk to a friend, relative or counselor and begin to break the cycle of silence. Open communication is the best way to help the alcoholic and the family. If you or someone you know has a drinking problem, seek help from a medical professional.

(Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association: http://www.fadaa.org/services/resource_center/resources/JTF/codepend.asp)

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