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Expenditure

Why Drug Abuse Is Not a Financially Sound Decision

Drug abuse has a considerable impact on public health and healthcare systems. What about its financial costs? 

Using drugs financially affects our society. Because of the numerous costs to society, drug misuse and drug addiction cost the countries billions of euros per year. The costs keep increasing as long as addiction lasts.


What are the other costs of drug use to society?

  • Crime, unemployment, homelessness

  • Overdose deaths

  • Side effects on unborn babies

  • The spread of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C


What about the costs induced by drug diversion?


Drug diversion increases the cost of the Medicaid program. It's against the law to divert drugs. Health systems need to set drug diversion detection strategies to prevent that issue. 

Why is drug diversion concerning?

Drug diversion and addiction are serious issues and sometimes uncomfortable situations for healthcare managers to address. Addiction is the number one reason for healthcare professionals to divert controlled substances. Diversion can put patient care and safety at risk, and cause financial loss or legal issues to healthcare organizations. Drug diversion can occur at every point along with the drug delivery system. 

Where does it mostly occur? 

Drug diversion is caused by healthcare workers who work in hospitals, thus having easy access to drugs. Some pilfer drugs to feed their addiction. Indeed, drug diversion is the illegal distribution or abuse of prescription drugs or their use for unintended purposes.

What is drug diversion in nursing?


Addiction is the number one reason for healthcare professionals to divert controlled substances. Nurses tend to abuse prescription medications, such as amphetamines, opioids, sedatives, tranquillizers, and inhalants; this coincides with their workplace environment. 

As a result, hospitals need to monitor and eradicate drug diversion.

Drug diversion detection and prevention policy

Health systems have a moral and legal responsibility to audit and monitor the administering practices of all personnel who have access to controlled substances. They implement drug diversion monitoring programs to detect and prevent drug diversion. To prevent drug diversion, facilities should have strong controlled substance security measures and active monitoring systems.

Drug detection methods

Healthcare managers could perform drug testing to detect nurses with substance use disorders. The use of drug detection devices such as our D1 handheld analyzer helps prevent addiction and reduce financial loss. 


Legal issues regarding drug abuse

France

The use of substances or plants classified as narcotics is a criminal offence in France, punishable with prison and a EUR 3750. The fine (as well as the respective prison time) can go up to EUR 7500 if the offence was committed by a public servant on duty.

Ireland 

Laws are a bit more lenient with drug abusers, with the only use of prepared opium being explicitly prohibited and punished with imprisonment and/or EUR 1270.

Luxembourg 

They will levy anything between EUR 251 and 2,500 for the use of cannabis or other drugs, the differences here being in the amount of jail time granted for one drug or another.


EU countries with opposite legal aspects


Poland

Poland's harsh policy on drugs lasted two decades. Polish drug laws failed due to their non-effectiveness. Article 62 of the Act on Counteracting Drug Addiction stipulating penalties for drug possession was a total failure. Drug policies eventually stopped criminalizing personal possession and drug use. The harsh criminalization of drug use put people who use drugs in a hostile relationship with the state and increases the risk of HIV infection and makes it difficult for people to receive treatment.

Thus, it costs the user nothing in Poland, where drug use is not mentioned as an offence. In Slovenia, possession of an illicit drug is also considered a minor offence under  Article 33 of the Production and Trade in Illicit Drugs Act.


Spain

At the other end of the spectrum, we have Spain, where the illicit consumption of drugs in public spaces, streets, establishments is a serious infraction of public safety. While not a crime, the respective serious infraction can cost the unlucky user up to EUR 30,000.



What actions have been undertaken to prevent drug abuse?


Many other EU countries have lower fines of around EUR 100-300, but most of them also involve some other form of punishment – most often, prison – with Malta stipulating up to 10 years for use of prepared opium.

This article does not include loss of profits and wages, time spent away from family and friends, and the immense health hazards associated with drug abuse. It also does not include the overall expenditure of the country and the healthcare and judicial system.

One way to save money is by supporting drug abuse reduction measures, such as drug testing and drug screening. Prevention is key here, leading to better overall outcomes.


Sources:

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