How Does Addiction Impact a Close-Knit Community?

The trickle-down effect absolutely applies to addiction. Recovery professionals believe that at least five other individuals are affected by one person’s addiction. Friends and family are perhaps the most notable of the affected, as they have very personal, close relationships with the addiction. But the impact of addiction does not end there. A single person’s addiction can affect groups, entire communities, and even society as a whole. While the impact may not be as direct as an addict lashing out at family members or stealing their money, society can suffer the consequences of a single individual’s addiction, especially in a small or close-knit community. If your community in California is being affected by addiction, learn how you can help the addict and his family, while strengthening your community as a whole.

What Impact Does Addiction Have on Communities?

Close-knit communities are going to be more observant and aware of addicts. People are likely to have run-ins with the addict or know someone who interacts with the addict. Addicts are unpredictable. Their decisions and behaviors are influenced by the substance they are using as well as the addiction itself. People in communities are going to be wary of addicts and their families. Most recognize the increased risk of being around an addict, where accidents, injuries and criminal behavior are more likely to occur. Furthermore, many people still misunderstand addiction, believing it a choice instead of a disease. Many people look down on addicts and instead of recognizing that they need help and support, tend to make life more difficult for them with judgment, discrimination or shunning. The further an addict slides into addiction, the less productive he becomes as members of society.

Looking at the bigger picture, addicts can negatively impact an entire close-knit community. It isn’t a myth that addiction is linked to criminal activity. People behave irrationally when they are under the influence, and when drug use and addiction is rampant, crime tends to follow. Communities with high rates of substance abuse and addiction can notice higher instances of burglaries, theft, assault, murder and more. In addition, people selling drugs illicitly have a close connection to the criminal world. It is common for gangs and other criminal groups to use drug money to fund their criminal activity. Therefore, when a person purchases any drug from the black market, they are contributing to crime. An addict may not understand that they are helping create and perpetuate unsafe streets and neighborhoods by purchasing street drugs.

Addiction affects health care costs and the economy, as the government and other agencies have to spend a significant amount of money raising awareness and implementing education and prevention programs for addiction. The effects of addiction are endless. No matter how direct or indirect, addiction does impact communities. Addicts are less productive in their work, home and professional life and this will not go unnoticed in a close-knit community.

Strengthening and Repairing Communities Affected by Addiction

One of the best ways for a community to repair itself from the damage of addiction is by taking the time to pay attention to the disease, and raising awareness and educating the community about addiction. A community must make an effort to recognize that addicts are hurting and that they need help; they do not need judgment, criticism and hate. If communities can advocate and support treatment and recovery programs instead of worsening the stigma attached to addiction, more addicts will be inclined to get help.

If you or a loved one in California would like help for addiction, you can call our toll-free helpline, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our recovery professionals are happy to assist you.

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