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Homo sapiens sapiens and many of his/her other animal brethren have probably been using potentially addictive substances since time immemorial. They have probably been suffering the consequences since then, too.
In a show on the United States Public Broadcasting System a few years ago, the story was told of a section of Africa where every year african-plains animals of many species gather to eat the fruit of a particular tree. The fruit of this tree ferments rapidly. The animals seem well-aware of and appreciate the fruit’s intoxicating properties. The animals also suffer the consequences of over-indulgence. The film showed the animals in an unseemly (albeit amusing) postprandial state, tottering to and fro rather aimlessly.
At night, without headlights, one can imagine the carnage. The next morning, the first animal to utter a roar, trumpet or squeak gets trampled. At the end of the harvest season, the animals stagger off, without benefit of an in- or outpatient veterinary detox program.
Or something like that. <grin>
The negative consequences for humans of intemperate use of addictive substances are legion. Substance abuse is a major problem for many societies throughout the world. The following links outline the scope of the problem and the costs:
- Nationwide Trends in Drug Abuse (2015). This the most recent analysis of the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration on the percentages of people using alcohol and drugs in the USA. This was issued in June of 2015.
- Drug abuse costs the United States economy hundreds of billions of dollars in increased health care costs, crime, and lost productivity. This is the National Institute on Drug Abuse “Trends and Statistics” page which has information on the economic costs of alcohol and drug abuse in the USA and links to the results of many other substance abuse surveys.
- The European Drug Report for 2017 is the annual report on the state of the drug problem in Europe. Put out by The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, it is a nice compilation (in html, epub and pdf formats) of “Trends and Developments” in Europe’s problem with alcohol and drugs.
tl;dr: The costs of substance abuse are significant and affect individuals, families and societies.