What is the human cost of illegal drugs in the United States?

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Illicit drugs are a major problem in the United States and worldwide. The financial costs have been estimated as approximate $193 billion paid in the sale of illegal drugs exclusively. The incalculable (i.e. non-financial) costs are more difficult to estimate. These issues include lost productivity owing to the population suffering from substance use disorder. These labor costs, in addition to the legal and medical fees associated with illicit drug effect the U.S. economy appreciably. On the level of the individual (an estimated 7 million of whom suffer from illicit substance use disorders), the risks include death (an estimated one in four individuals die), effects on unborn children, the spread of HIV/AIDS, and crime, unemployment, and potential homelessness. Medical conditions involved include lung and heart problems in addition to a generally weakened immune system in those who use dangerous illicit substances.

Ultimately, there are multiple ways of addressing your question and the larger issue of illicit substance use. For example, if the U.S. were to legalize the production and sale of these illicit substances, many jobs would be created and the U.S. economy would grow dramatically. A case in point is Portugal, a country which recently legalized drugs in 2001 and saw tremendous economic growth (nearly 80 percent over two decades). That said, there are foreseeable (and probably unforeseeable) risks associated with such a dramatic chance in the U.S.
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