Drug Use in the U.S.
The Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy has recently published an easy to understand chart which details drug use in the United States. Using information from extensive government survey data from over 40 years, on the subject, researchers were able to provide accurate and descriptive information regarding drug use.
The patterns of drug use and abuse indicate that most individuals who are using drugs between the ages of 18-26 experiment with and use drugs for a small amount of time. The usage drops off significantly after age 26 –leading the researchers to contemplate whether punishment for such use was too severe during that timeframe in the individual’s lives. In fact, they indicated that more compassion and rational punishments are needed for those individuals because the drug use declines whether or not rehab is present.
Some key findings of the study included:
- “Marijuana’s reputation as a “gateway” drug is not supported, even for more marijuana use. More than half of respondents under 60 have used it during their lifetime, but fewer than 10 percent use it regularly.
- Far fewer people progress to harder drugs. Current monthly use of cocaine is 0.6 percent; for heroin and methamphetamines, only 0.2 percent.
- The vast majority of people with a “substance-use disorder” after age 26 developed it before age 18.
- Problematic drug use has been stable for decades, calling into question the success of the war on drugs.
- Some cities, states and countries have devised proven successful alternatives to prohibition and harsh punishment for drug use and abuse.
- Now that about 90 percent of new heroin users are white, politicians and other officials are starting to treat opioid addiction as a disease and public health problem rather than a crime deserving harsh punishment.
- Traumatic childhood experience, mental illness and economic insecurity are more significant predictors of substance abuse than availability of the drugs.” (news.rice.edu)