Harms associated with illicit drug use
For many policymakers, researchers, and ordinary citizens, drug use per se is less of a concern than the problems that accompany it: chronic health problems, infectious disease transmission, property crime, and family breakdown, to name only a few examples. This chapter summarizes what is known about the extent of the health risks and social harms associated with drug use. Illicit drug use is associated with a marked burden of disease, disability, mortality, criminality, and a variety of other social harms. Although the burden, harm, and costs attributable to illicit drug use are substantial, for most countries they are lower than those attributable to alcohol and tobacco. Only in established market economies is illicit drug use among the major risk factors for the burden of disease. In low- and middle-income countries, illicit drug use is a minor consideration in the overall burden of disease, but this could change with rising incomes and increasing globalization.
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