MINNEAPOLIS -― In a new study released by the government's leading agency on drug abuse, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), found the rate of illegal drug use rose nine percent last year, the highest level in nearly a decade.
Government drug experts say mixed messages to our kids could be behind a big jump in illegal drug use.
In a new study released by the government's leading agency on drug abuse, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), found the rate of illegal drug use rose nine percent last year, the highest level in nearly a decade.
The annual report says about 21.8 million Americans, or 8.7 percent of the population age 12 and older, reported using illegal drugs in 2009. That's the highest level since the survey began in 2002.
The study also tracked a surge in ecstasy and methamphetamine use, but found a sharp increase in marijuana use, which researchers found rose by 8 percent and remained the most commonly used drug.
Dr. Joseph Lee sees the pain behind those numbers, and calls it an epidemic. As a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Hazelden's Center for Youth and Families in Plymouth, he treats young adults ages 14-25 struggling with drug addiction and mental illness.
"I would say 95 percent of the kids I personally see are using two or three substances together. It may start with cigarettes and marijuana, but it often goes to prescription drugs -- things like Oxycontin and Adderall, and eventually gets to experimentation with harder drugs like cocaine and heroin," said Lee.
Gil Kerlikowske, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, called the increase in drug use disappointing but said he was not surprised given "eroding attitudes" about the perception of harm from illegal drugs and the growing number of states approving medicinal marijuana.
"I think all of the attention and the focus of calling marijuana medicine has sent the absolute wrong message to our young people," Kerlikowske said.
In Minnesota, Lee agrees that teenagers are struggling with mixed messages when it comes to marijuana, which has been approved for medical use in more than a dozen states.
"Whether marijuana is used medicinally or whether it becomes legalized, people need to understand that it is a potentially addictive substance and can be dangerous. And people who use marijuana again often use other substances," said Lee.
Dr. Lee emphasizes the mission of Hazelden, education and prevention. "Our country spends about half a trillion dollars a year out of our collective pocketbook for addiction treatment, legal issues related to addiction and for lost productivity, we don't have to lose lives or dollars to combat this illness, " said Lee.
On a positive note, the SAMHSA report found cocaine abuse continues to decline, with use of the drug down 32 percent from its peak in 2006.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Posted by BA Haller at 11:03 AM