Emerging Trends in the Rising Use of Drugs in the U.S.

By  //  March 6, 2019

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Drug overdose has killed 72,000 people in the U.S. from Jan 2017 to Jan 2018 which is a 10 percent increase over the past year as per Statista which is higher than the number of people who died from HIV, car crashes or gun deaths. Image by Pixabay

Drug overdose has killed 72,000 people in the U.S. from Jan 2017 to Jan 2018 which is a 10 percent increase over the past year as per Statista which is higher than the number of people who died from HIV, car crashes or gun deaths.

The alarming increase in the use of drugs in the U.S. across most generations, genders, and demographics is due to the upshot in users and the availability of stronger drugs.

The problem may be due to the drug manufacturers producing different alternatives when one of the drugs is banned.

Apart from the abuse of common drugs like heroin, cocaine or marijuana, there is an increase in the use of synthetic drugs like flakka which creates a high similar to cocaine but has the potential to be much more dangerous than cocaine.

There are many recent reports of flakka overdose in Florida which is particularly disturbing. Community and law enforcement measures along with top-notch drug rehab programs have made great progress with dealing with the crisis of flakka in Florida.

The amount of information available online about the dangers of using such drugs is huge which would make one think that the number of drug abuse would be in the downfall but sadly that is not the case.

Who is Doing More Drugs?

With the rising trends of drug abuse in the U.S., there are specific groups which are more into the use of drugs than the others, though there is no group which is immune to the use of drugs altogether.

Men still continue to outnumber women when it comes to drug abuse, but recent studies have revealed that the gender gap has been narrowing. Women have grown to be the largest demographic of drug and alcohol use in the U.S. As per National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), -“Up to 4.5 million women over age 12 in the U.S. have a substance use disorder, 3.5 million misuse prescription drugs, and 3.1 million regularly use illicit drugs. Each year, over 200,000 American women die as a result of alcoholism and drug dependence, with more than 4 million women in need of treatment for their addiction.”

Another surprising group who are addicted to drugs are adults over the age of 50. As per a study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), the number of older adults who will need treatment for substance abuse will increase to 4.4 million in 2020. Also, 90% of the adults aged 50–59 who were using illicit drugs had started using them before age 30.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a report analyzing the use and abuse of marijuana in the  U.S. The reports interestingly indicate that middle-aged and older people are more likely to smoke weed than teenagers.

  • Teens aged 12–17 showed a 10% decrease in usage
  • Adults aged 26 to 34 showed a 65% increase in usage
  • Adults aged 35 to 44 showed a 43% increase in usage
  • Adults ages 45 to 54 had a 48% increase in usage
  • Seniors 55-64 had a whopping 455% increase in usage
  • Seniors above 65 had a whopping 333% increase in usage

Why are People Doing More Drugs?

There are several reasons why the use of drugs has increased over the past decade in the U.S. We have addressed a few common problems below.

Addiction to Prescribed Painkillers:

The main reason for drug abuse amongst the adults recently is the addiction to a prescribed painkiller. At some point, adults suffer from chronic pain and are prescribed Opioidpainkillers, this increases the risk factor for drug abuse.

According to the study by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “people addicted to prescription opioids are 40 times more likely to become addicted to heroin.”

The alarming increase in the use of drugs in the U.S. across most generations, genders, and demographics is due to the upshot in users and the availability of stronger drugs.

Stress:

A simple explanation for the increase in the use of drugs in the U.S. is the increase in the average amount of stress an individual must go through.

A survey has revealed that there is a 37% increase in the level of stress over the past year in 2017. Such a high level of anxiety related to income, jobs, career, personal issues, and inferiority complex can lead to substance abuse by these adults.

Other common reasons for drug addiction are:

  • Poverty
  • Mental illness
  • Volatile environment
  • Poor education
  • Wrong influence

How can the Trend be Reversed?

Drug abuse can be reduced only if the community and society can take proactive steps to prevent it. Schools need to be wary of what goes around in its campus and parents need to be diligent about educating the young adults against the use of drugs.

Recognizing the symptoms beforehand by parents or friends before the addiction becomes extreme can help an individual come out of the addiction with support and medical help.

For older adults, finding a pain management alternative which is drug-free can help in handling stress-preventing drug abuse.

The sad reality is that how much ever efforts an individual or a community puts in to stop drug abuse, it is inevitable in any society. Curiosity, poverty, rebelliousness, stress, etc are the reasons people get involved in this bad habit.

Forming large communities, being diligent of the initial signs of drug use and educating the youth may be the starting steps in bringing the abuse numbers down. It may not be possible to eradicate the drug abuse issues completely, but it is definitely worth fighting back the addiction.

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