Anyone who has watched the show Intervention is probably already familiar with the 2010 statistic that states that over 22 million people in America are addicts since that forms the introduction of the show. I don't mean to be repetitive with information that's already out there, but I think it's important for people to dwell on it and really take it in.
I would wager that the statistics are actually lower than the reality. From my own experiences, it really seems like that there is no way that only 9% of the population uses or has used drugs. Almost every single person I have ever met in my life has used drugs sometime in their life, or is actively using drugs. Many of them were or are very heavy users, too.
I'm bringing this up because of what it means for society and the world. I sometimes feel like that I had been the only one who ever learned that drugs (and alcohol) permanently affect your brain, and that there is no healing of it. When you Google that, however, you'll be flooded with a ton of articles that not only say alcohol doesn't kill brain cells, but that alcohol actually HELPS your brain, and that various drugs are good for you (yay for the internet where you can find an article or study that "proves" anything). This is completely asinine and very likely propaganda put out by those who would benefit. All the heavy drug and/or alcohol users I have ever met have noticeable and severe cognitive impairment particularly in certain areas relating to societal and peer pressure/following of the status quo, and personal beliefs. What I mean is, whatever is the path of least resistance and general superficial popularity, that is what the majority of them follow. Some examples include espousing agnostic beliefs (historically unprecedented at such levels) and extreme liberal opinions that don't make much sense, but are nevertheless parroted as the mark of progressiveness and intellectualism i.e. "legalizing marijuana will make drug use go down and stop Mexican drug lords beheading everyone even though their money is in the hard drugs." I'm not picking on liberals, the other side is extreme bigoted and highly simplistic beliefs based on heresay or flat out lies that are nevertheless published and accepted as truth when any basic research would prove otherwise. Both liberal and conservative drug users essentially believe what they read--question very little. Those are just some examples.
Drugs are not entirely to blame for the beliefs, attitudes and decisions (as in, they don't come out of nowhere as a result of drug use), but I believe the addled states of mind make people more prone to the power of suggestion and thus controlled and easy to control in other situations.
Intellectuals have bemoaned the weak mentality of the masses since the beginning, but it needs to be seriously understood that when a significant amount of the population is not in a natural state of mind--is controlled or guided by a substance--the ramifications are disturbing to think about. It's like being the sole sane and clear-minded person in the world, and you're the one in a mental hospital.