Although drug use among young people has dropped for years, the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) uncovered a turnaround: overall use in the age 12 and older demographic has increased from 8% in 2008 to 8.7% last year. The report, issued by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), pinpoints a rise in marijuana popularity as the main culprit. In fact, an additional9% of 12 to 17-year-olds reported smoking weed in the latest NSDUH (6.7%in 2008 versus 7.3% in 2009). Over 21% of young adults (ages 18 to 25) reported past-month illegal drug use in 2009, up from 19.6% in 2008. Researchers state that marijuana also fueled this swell in numbers.
“Drug use is up in almost all categories, with more youth now using ecstasy, marijuana, methamphetamine, and abusing prescription drugs than they were in 2008,” comments Arthur T. Dean, Chairman and CEO of Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA).
R. Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), points to American culture as a factor. “Today’s findings are disappointing, but not surprising, because eroding attitudes and perceptions of harm about drug use over the past two years have served as warning signs for exactly what we see today,” states Kerlikowske. “… Associating marijuana as medicine sends them [youth] the wrong message,” Kerlikowske adds.
Over 60 percent of those with drinking problems refuse to seek help due to the attached stigma of alcoholism. This is according to research led by Dr. Katherine Keyes of Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health. The study looked at the results of 6300 respondents to the National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC). Two-thirds of the respondents, who met criteria for having an alcohol use disorder, were not likely to seek treatment due to identifying a stigma attached to alcohol abuse. Men, minorities and individuals with lower income and education levels were most likely to respond in this manner.
“Given that alcohol use disorders are one of the most prevalent psychiatric disorders in the United States,” says Dr. Keyes, “the empirical documentation of stigma as a barrier to treatment is an important public health finding.”
Contact the Working Partners team to learn how to address alcohol abuse as part of a comprehensive Drug Free Workplace program.
The Federal Drug Administration has approved use of Vivitrol, the first non-addictive, non-narcotic, extended release medication designed to treat opioid addiction. Patients given Vivitrol have responded well. They are more likely than counterparts given a placebo to remain in treatment and to stay away from illegal drug use.National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) director Nora D. Volkow explains the significance of this advancement: “Heroin addiction afflicts an estimated 810,000 people in this country, the great majority of who do not either seek or receive treatment.”
A separate study from the University of California in Los Angeles reports that buphrenorphine implants are effective in lowering withdrawal symptoms and cravings for individuals addicted to opioids. Patients with the implant also had significantly higher rates of remaining in a treatment program than those receiving a placebo.
Since Colorado first enacted its medical marijuana law in 2007, 1,100 dispensaries have sprouted up throughout the state in a climate with very little regulation in place. To provide more structure Governor Bill Ritter signed two bills in June, giving authorities additional oversight in the growth, distribution, and sale of medical marijuana.
Although all the details of the plan have not yet been released, given the proliferation of states making medical marijuana legal and facing this same dilemma, the head of Colorado’s medical-marijuana enforcement effort promises a comprehensive plan that other states could adopt as a model. Using web-based, 24-7 video surveillance, the plan calls for monitoring the entire process from the time a seed goes into the ground to the time the plants are harvested, cultivated, processed, packaged and stored.
Persons who operate dispensaries will be checked to meet certain standards and pay license fees. Compliance with specifications of the law will be monitored including the restriction that dispensaries are growing at least 70% of their crops on premises. Marijuana vendors will also be required to verify a buyer’s identity either by video surveillance, fingerprint scanning, drivers license scanning, or electronic identification tags. A system is planned to ensure a single purchaser is not buying marijuana from several sites and stockpiling it for illegal personal or commercial use.