Marijuana Use and Abuse
Ever wonder how many Americans are using marijuana, heroin, and prescription drugs?
The drug prohibition policies in the United States traces its roots back in 1914, but the term “war on drugs” was popularized in 1971 upon the declaration of then-president Richard Nixon. The goal of Nixon’s anti-drug campaign was to increase the size and presence of federal drug control agencies.
More than 40 years later, however, it appears that the number of people using and misusing banned substances are increasing, not to mention the emergence of newer substances that are getting kids “high” and sending some of them to emergency rooms for treatment.
Marijuana is still considered the most commonly abuse drugs in the U.S. with roughly 100 million Americans admitting to trying the drug at least once, according to the Students for a Sensible Drug Policy.
Last year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released a report suggesting that one marijuana arrest happens every 42 seconds.
After marijuana there’s prescription drug abuse which is getting a lot of attention lately because of the increasing number of teens experimenting on them. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), prescription drug misuse remains a top public health concern in the United States, with approximately 22 million people initiating nonmedical use of pain relievers since 2002. The figure was based from the combined 2010 and 2011 data indicating that rates of past year misuse among those aged 12 or older.
Among the states with the highest rates of nonmedical use of prescription drugs were Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington.
Ritalin and Adderall, drugs commonly prescribed in people with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), were noted as among the top drivers in the increase of teen medicine abuse.
Given the growing rates of prescription drug abuse, drug manufacturers altered the formulation of OxyContin, another commonly abused Rx medicine, to prevent drug addicts from crushing and abusing it. However, this led to addicts turning to other prescription meds, as well as heroin.
In 2008, it is estimated that there were more than 200,000 current heroin users in the United States. Between 2008 and 2009, there had been an obvious increase in lifetime heroin injection use among 10th graders.
There’s a reason why many parents want their kids to enjoy their pre-teens and early teenage years without a partner, or at the very least looking for a prospect. Some parents think dating between the age of 11 and 15 could interfere with their kids’ studies. The thing is, this concern may just be downright valid.
According to a new study, dating in middle school could lead to higher drop out and drug use rates.
Researchers from the University of Georgia followed more than 600 students, from 6th to 12th grade, for over seven years and found that students who start dating in middle school have significantly worse study skills, are four times more likely to drop out of school, and report twice as much alcohol, tobacco and marijuana use, according to a ScienceDaily report.
“A likely explanation for the worse educational performance of early daters is that these adolescents start dating early as part of an overall pattern of high-risk behaviors,” said Pamela Orpinas, study author and professor in the College of Public Health and head of the Department of Health Promotion and Behavior.
Orpinas said the study suggests “dating should not be considered a rite of passage in middle school.” She explained that the emotional complications involved in dating a classmate may be similar with that of dating a co-worker.
“When the couple splits, they have to continue to see each other in class and perhaps witness the ex-partner dating someone else. It is reasonable to think this scenario could be linked to depression and divert attention from studying,” Orpinas said, citing the scenario as possible trigger for the use of commonly abused substances like alcohol and marijuana.
The results of the study were recently published in the Journal of Research on Adolescence.
Valentine’s Day is that time of the year when ladies are treated to fancy dinners, and get flowers, chocolates and teddy bear from their significant other. But for Umbrella hitmaker Rihanna, it’s the perfect day to receive a bouquet of marijuana.
On Feb. 14, Rihanna posted an image on her Instagram account of what appeared to be a bunch of marijuana plant. It wasn’t known whether it was a gift she received from beau Chris Brown, but it was clear that the present was enough to put a big smile on the 24-year-old R&B singer’s face.
Rihanna’s Instagram photo comes with a caption that says “Roses are green! Somebody knows how to make me happy.” By friday afternoon, it has already generated more than 200,000 likes.
Rihanna has been casual about her marijuana use. On Jan. 2012, she was caught by paparazzi smoking a suspicious looking cigarette during her Hawaiian holiday. The day before the pictures circulated she tweeted the following phrases from Drake’s song Up All Night: “Kush rolled, glass full…I prefer the better things!”
President Obama’s drug czar expressed his concerns over the implications of legalizing marijuana and advocating the drug’s medicinal benefits.
“We are certainly not sending a very good message when we call it medicine and legalize it,” R. Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, told The Oregonian in an exclusive interview.
Kerlikowske made a quick stop in Portland last week to meet privately with some community leaders to talk about Oregon’s prescription drug abuse problem. He said the issue about marijuana was also discussed, saying it “always comes up.”
The former Seattle police chief cited the result of a 2012 survey which found that more California drivers tested positive for marijuana use than for alcohol.
Kerlikowske stressed that his concerns about marijuana center on public health, and that efforts to legalize the drug send the wrong message to young people.
Although medical marijuana is legal in some states and recreational marijuana use has been recently approved in Washington state and Colorado, the drug remains illegal under federal law. In 2011, the the Drug Enforcement Administration rejected a petition to reclassify marijuana’s federal status, saying the drug has “no accepted medical use.”
Earlier this month, Kerlikowske slammed medical marijuana during a speaking engagement in San Francisco, the San Francisco Examiner reports. He said: “Medicinal marijuana has never been through the FDA process. We have the world’s most renowned process to decide what is medicine and what should go in peoples’ bodies. And marijuana has never been through that process.”
The fight against substance abuse in Florida is bearing good results as more teens are keeping their hands off illegal substances, according to the 2012 Youth Substance Abuse Survey.
Although alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana are still among the most widely abused substances in the state, the survey shows lesser teens are using them compared to the previous years.
In Indian River County, alcohol use among teens went down from 33 percent in 2010 to 26 percent in 2012. Cigarette smoking dropped from 12 percent to 8 percent in the same period, while marijuana use declined from 15 percent to 13 percent, the WPTV reports.
In St. Lucie County, alcohol use dropped from 30 percent in 2010 to 25 percent in 2012. Marijuana use dropped from 13 percent to 11 percent in the last two years.
In Orange County, a notable decline was also observed. The number of middle and high school students in the area who reported lifetime use of alcohol decreased from 49.5 percent in 2010 to 46.8 percent in 2012. Past 30-day underage drinking also declined from 26.5 percent in 2010 to 23.1. percent in 2012, as reported in the Orange County Government news release.
“Underage drinking is a major concern in Orange County and we are glad to see the numbers trending in the right direction,” said Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs. “We will continue to support our schools, drug free coalition members and community efforts to further reduce substance use in our community.”
Past 30-day cigarette use by Orange County students also went down from 7.8 percent in 2010 to 5 percent in 2012, though past 30-day marijuana use remained steady from 11.9 percent in 2010 to 12.1 percent in 2012.
Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said they won’t slow down in their efforts in preventing substance abuse among youth. “The Orange County Sheriff’s Office and our community partners will continue to focus prevention efforts on the harms of marijuana use, synthetic marijuana use and the non-medical use of prescription drugs among our youth,” Demings added.
The 2012 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey also showed significant decline in substance abuse in Baker County, Duval County, Nassau County, Martin County, and St. Johns County.
Two months after Washington and Colorado voters say yes to recreational marijuana use, a new group was launched on Jan. 10 to halt legalization movement.
Called Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana), the organization is chaired by former Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, who struggled with alcohol and drug addiction. Other board members include Kevin Sabet, a former White House drug policy adviser and an outspoken opponent of legalizing marijuana; and David Frum, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush.
“Our country is about to go down the wrong road, in the opposite direction of sound mental health policy,” Kennedy told the Associated Press. “It’s just shocking as a public health issue that we seem to be looking the other way as this legalization of marijuana becomes really glamorous.”
Also member of the board is Sharon Levy, chairwoman of the American Academy of Pediatrics committee on substance abuse, who said she joined the organization because “we’re losing the public health battle” and policy is being made by legalization advocates who might be misinformed about marijuana’s dangers.
The group argues that the U.S. can tackle issues, such as racial disparities in arrest rates and the lifelong stigma that can come with a marijuana conviction, without legalizing pot.
Project SAM hopes to raise money to oppose legalization messages around the country, shape the legalization laws taking effect in Washington and Colorado, promote alternatives to jail time for pot users, and speed up scientific research on the effects of marijuana, the article notes.