Marijuana is consistently the most abused illegal drug in the United States, year after year, and the most recent drug survey shows that marijuana and heroin use is continuing to increase in the US.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) conducted the survey that asked 70,000 United States citizens, 12 years of age and older, about individual drug use during the calendar year 2012. When compared to previous surveys, SAMHSA personnel found that people reported more marijuana and heroin abuse than in prior years.
Changes in Marijuana Use and Abuse
The 2007 survey results showed that 5.8% of Americans used the drug recreationally. In 2011, 7% smoked marijuana, and the latest results report 7.3%. With almost 314 million people in this country, that’s an increase of almost one million people.
The survey results also reveal that more people are progressing to daily marijuana use. In 2007, 5.1 million people admitted to being daily marijuana smokers, and in the latest 2012 results, 7.6 million people made that claim.
The good news in all of this? While overall growth in marijuana use has increased, and has shown an increase among almost every age group, the amount of teen marijuana use has gone done. This means that parents, teachers, school administrators, peers, and teens themselves are responding positively to education and prevention measures put into effect by agencies like SAMHSA, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and other organizations working to combat the growing drug rates.
Changes in Heroin Use, Abuse and Addiction
Heroin has become a widespread problem in the United States. While the drug has been used on its own for decades, the recent spread has been linked to the progression from prescription painkillers to heroin. Drugs like Vicodin and OxyContin are opiates, just like heroin, so when pill abuse becomes pill addiction and the user no longer has a pill connection, he or she turns to heroin. Opiate withdrawal is extremely painful and unpleasant, so a drug like heroin, that is easily accessible and for a much lower price, is the natural solution when withdrawal symptoms begin.
The survey results from 2007 show that 373,000 United States citizens reported having used heroin during that calendar year. 620,000 people used heroin in 2011, and sadly 669,000 in 2012. The number has nearly doubled in a matter of 5 years.
Heroin, and prescription opiates, are extremely dangerous drugs. While marijuana slows brain functioning and inhibits other behaviors in its users, heroin takes the risks of use to a whole other level. Heroin use can quickly progress to abuse and addiction, especially when the drug’s use began as a fix for prescription painkiller abuse or addiction. The risk of an overdose is all too real, and the rate of opiate overdose deaths in the United States has more than tripled since 1990, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Input
SAMHSA administrator, Pamela S. Hyde released a statement about the survey results. She believes that, “These statistics represent real people, families and communities dealing with the devastating consequences of abuse and addiction. We must strive to prevent further abuse and provide the hope of treatment and recovery to all people needing help. We must redouble our efforts to reduce and eliminate all forms of it [substance abuse] throughout our nation.”
Comprehensive Drug Use and Abuse
Following marijuana, the survey found that prescription painkillers were the drug most often used as someone’s first substance. This is scary because, as stated, prescription opiates quickly take the user from use, to abuse, and onto addiction, which can quickly become heroin use, abuse, and addiction. Teens and young adults are trying prescription opiates (1.9 million) almost as much as they are trying marijuana (2.4 million.) Parents: keep your medications places where your children cannot find them.
Polydrug use is a major problem too. Teens and young adults will experiment with a few different drugs at parties, concerts, and music festivals. Alcohol, marijuana, pills, cocaine, and Ecstasy, or Molly, are often combined to feel multiple effects at the same time. Without knowing how your individual system will respond to all these chemicals at one time, results can be life-threatening.
Ideally, the results of this survey can help substance abuse and mental health professionals and lawmakers better address the growing problem, but it is up to each of us to choose a substance-free life and to help others make that same decision.
Post by: Marissa Maldonado