Illegal drugs, and even those that are ‘legal’, often have a profound effect on the individuals who take them, and on the society they live in.

On an individual level, drugs can take a heavy toll on the mind, body and relationships of an individual. Some are chemically addictive and alter the internal balance of the body, triggering a physical dependency. Others can lead to a powerful psychological addiction that causes the drug users to seek out a substance again and again, despite its harmful effects on their health and their life. At their worst, some drug addictions can lead to death.

Drugs don’t just affect those who take them, though. In a family environment children, parents and spouses can all be affected by the destructive and addictive behaviours of those with drug dependencies. The secondary effects on society include kids dropping out of school, children who have lost one or more parents to drug abuse and higher crime rates.

The cost of the ‘drug war’ also has a significant impact on economies in many countries, with large amounts of money being spent on enforcing drug laws, treating addicts and dealing with the aftermath of drug abuse.

Many cities around the world also pay the cost for drugs in the disproportionate amount of crimes and homicides that are linked to the illicit trafficking and selling of drugs. In the case of some illegally grown narcotic drugs, outright warfare has broken out in areas of South America for control of the supply and trafficking routes, leading to many casualties.