According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the rate of illegal drug use increased last year to 9 percent – highest level in nearly a decade. Of all the illegal drugs, marijuana use increased sharply as well as a surge in ecstasy and methamphetamine abuse.
Some of the causes may be the eroding attitude about the perception of harm from illegal drugs as well as the growing number of states approving medicinal marijuana. With the attitude that marijuana can be used for medical purposes, young people seem to see it as an okay drug to use. However, marijuana is still an illegal drug. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s annual report shows that marijuana use rose by 8 percent and remained the most commonly used drug. The good news is that cocaine abuse continues to decline, with use of the drug down 32 percent from its peak in 2006.
About 21.8 million Americans, or 8.7 percent of the population age 12 and older, reported using illegal drugs in 2009. This shocking statistic that shows 12 year olds use of illegal drugs is the highest level since the survey began in 2002. The previous high was just over 20 million in 2006.
Other results show a 37 percent increase in ecstasy use and a 60 percent jump in the number of methamphetamine users. In the early 2000s, there was a widespread public safety campaign to warn young people about the dangers of ecstasy as a party drug, but that effort declined as use dropped off.
Even though meth use had been dropping after a passage of a 2006 federal law that put cold tablets containing pseudoephedrine behind pharmacy counters, law enforcement officials have seen a rise in “smurfing,” or traveling from store to store to purchase the medicines, which can be used to produce homemade meth in kitchen labs. In addition, more people are getting their meth from drug runners from Mexico.
Education is the key to stopping illegal drug use. In addition, more TV ads showing the effects of meth on teenagers need to be aired. Just “saying no” to drugs as well as showing the consequences of illegal use needs to be graphically shown to our young people today.