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Drug Use in America: What the Numbers Say

Senior Editor, TipsHire

Statistics on drugs consumption

Drug use in America is one of the most concerning subjects to think and talk about. The number of people that are dealing with the negative consequences of drug abuse is getting bigger and bigger, every day, and by the way the things are at the present, there are serious concerns that it will not end or cease to exist very soon. More and more children and teenagers succumb to the harmful effects of the drug use and find themselves in a point in which letting go is already too hard. It is only a matter of time until they start to tolerate the drugs’ effects inside their bodies, which will further lead to the sensation of wanting more.

Wanting more of the marvelous sensations that drugs give people for a short period of time is the start of what the rest of the people call “addiction”. Because there is a huge difference between being dependent by the drugs and becoming addicted to them. The drug dependency measures only in the physical need of the body that got accustomed with the drugs’ course of action on the inside, while addiction… well, this is more serious, because it encompasses the physical need and it goes beyond, to the psychological part of the matter, where people tend to think only about the drug, how to get more, how to make more money to buy new drugs and so on.

Soon, they will start to fall into a part of their lives where they only live in shadow or as the shadow of the persons they used to be. And if words don’t convince you, maybe the numbers will, and remember – numbers aren’t just numbers. Each number is in fact a human with a story that has fallen into the trap of drug abuse.

Dealing with drugs and the way they affect our lives has raised a lot of issues in the previous year, because only in 2015, there were nearly 21 million people in America – from 12 years old and older – that had a substance abuse problem, or at least so it says the new estimate of the federals. So how can we stay by and not act at all? 12 years old means they are kids, unaware of the danger that threatens their lives, let alone the fact that it might actually end their lives at any moment if they become the victims of an overdose.

The numbers are troublesome, to say the least, and they aren’t stopping there. If we were to think about the people with a substance use disorder alone, the statistics claim that 3 out of 4 people (put it otherwise, 15,7 million people) had a problem with the alcohol abuse. So claims Kana Enomoto, which is the principal deputy administrator of the SAMHSA, aka Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in a conference that took place on September 8. What’s more, of all these people, 1 in 3 of them had a substance abuse disorder that it was related to the drug use, and 1 in 8 of them had a disorder that involved both the drugs and the alcohol abuse.

From consume to abuse

But when are people considered to have a substance abuse problem? Well, according to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, people deal with the substance abuse when they have very strong urges to use a certain substance or they cannot control their use of it, and even when their use impairs them in social contexts or it makes them develop a bad and risky behavior.

There were also reports that estimated a number of 27,1 million people in the USA that had consumed illegal drugs in the course of the past month. These findings are based on the discoveries made by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which is conducted from a year to another and it wraps around the subject drug use. The last year survey was conducted on 67,500 people and it showed that in the last year, at least 1 person in 12 needed a substance use treatment, but only 11% of them actually received one.

If we were to think about the most frequent drug use among the Americans, the number one is definitely marijuana. 87% of the people interviewed in the previous month confessed that they had used marijuana as their main drug. Year 2015 seems to be the peak of the marijuana use, since the number of people that reported using this drug was highly bigger than in between 2002-2013, states the SAMHSA. However, this drug’s use didn’t appear to increase among the teenagers. The higher numbers of marijuana use was increased by adults aged 26 and older. While in 2004, there were only 4 percent of people that consumed marijuana, in 2015, the marijuana consumption in adults aged 26 reached the incredible percent of 6,5.

Regarding the people that reported to have used opioids, or painkiller medicines, as we’re more familiar with them, the report stated that the people who used opioids in the last year were having a prescription drugs. The study showed that approximately 3,8 million people from the United States are misusing a great part of the prescription pain relievers. What do the numbers say in this case? Well, apparently, 830,000 people used heroin in the last year as a painkiller, which was more than double the number from the year 2002.

However, from 2014-2015, there was a slightly decreasing in using heroin as a medicinal pain reliever, even though it wasn’t statistically significant, which means that this drop could have simply been due to a chance. Another 300,000 people use with good knowledge and intention the fentanyl in 2015, which is a prescription painkiller whose action is more powerful – 100 times more powerful, so to say – than morphine, and it can very easily be linked to fatal overdose. In some cases, the people that use heroin may, in fact, be using fentanyl as well, because heroine may be laced with it.

Prevent drug abuse

On the other side of the matters, the good news is that the prevention is still the best way to curb the substance use or abuse, as the study suggests. Regarding alcohol, there was a slight decrease in the number of teenagers that reported using this substance, at least in the last year. The numbers for 2015 regarding alcohol intake says that 9,6 percent of teens have reported drinking in the past month, and it has dropped to 17,6 percent of teens in 2002. Cigarette smoking among teens is another subject of interest, so, the numbers in this case show that in 2002, 1 in 8 teens have reported smoking in the past month, while in 2015, 1 in 20 teenagers said that they have smoked in the past month. The reduction of these numbers may be due to the prevention efforts to stop the substance abuse or use.

However, everyone should be more aware of the danger that threatens their lives when they are dealing with any kind of substance abuse issue, so maybe these numbers will help a part of us make better decisions for our health. Substance use and substance abuse should be stopped at any cost, but until people start acting in this way, not only preaching about it, the numbers will only start to increase day by day. Drug use is not something you should flip the page about, so don’t!

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