MARIJUANA: Youth Is Missing The Drug Message

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Police Commissioner and later Mayor of Philadelphia Frank Rizzo was adamant about not giving marijuana users a break. He would tell his officers, “Marijuana is the gateway to drug addiction. Book them!”

But his orders failed to dent the spreading use of illicit and the abuse of licit drugs.

Today’s drug culture has managed to invade the very police units whose missions are to curtail drug traffic. In Philadelphia, the DA has been forced to close out hundreds of drug cases handled by undercover narcotics officers who got caught up in the drug trade. Easy money is a slippery slope.

Surveys of American students continue to show they still do not believe marijuana use can lead to other drug addiction and death in some cases.

Each year, the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan surveys thousands of 8th-, 10th- and 12th-graders to find out their substance-abuse habits and attitudes toward drug use. While statistics on drug abuse go up and down slightly from year to year, there is never very much overall change.

What has become obvious is they continue to ignore the message drug abuse is dangerous and harmful. Some of these children will wind up addicted and some of them will overdose. More of them will develop illnesses related to alcohol or drug abuse and a few of them will die unnecessarily in accidents related to substance abuse.

The results of this survey go back as far as 1975. Marijuana use declined through 2006 and then began to grow. Now, there are more young people using marijuana than smoking cigarettes.

In 2011, only about 45% of high-school seniors felt there was a great risk to using marijuana on a regular basis. The number of young people thinking it is risky to abuse marijuana has been downtrending since 1991. Pushing in this direction is the spreading permissiveness and legality of its use in different states and since the drug is given to sick people, how dangerous can it be?

Alcohol consumption is on a downtrend while at the same time, abuse of far more-addictive prescription drugs is on the rise. OxyContin abuse remains steady, hydrocodone abuse is down slightly, but Ritalin and Adderall (a form of amphetamine) abuse is growing. Between 2009 and 2011, the percentage of high-school seniors who abused a prescription amphetamine or stimulant climbed from 6.6% to 8.2%.

There may be people, both young and old, who think these drugs can be abused without becoming addicted. And sometimes, it’s true, a young person can abuse some of these drugs and then decide to quit. But others take a different path. They can’t quit when they want to. The cravings drive them to abuse the same drug over and over. Their life begins to deteriorate. Grades drop, activities and interests are discontinued. Friends change so the young person is now hanging out with people who use drugs, not the sober ones.

Even marijuana has been proven to be addictive. In 2010, more than 150,000 young people (12 to 17) went to rehab to recover from marijuana addiction. In all, more than a million people of all ages found rehab help after complaining of a primary addiction to marijuana.

Good drug policy requires us to judge marijuana in perspective with other intoxicants.

In Philadelphia, an experienced substance-abuse treatment program in the Northeast is Self Help. It can be reached by calling Executive Dir. Bob Dellavella at (215) 335-4004.

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4 Responses to MARIJUANA: Youth Is Missing The Drug Message

  1. Marijuana use is not dangerous or harmful. Marijuana is not a gateway drug. Marijuana is not addictive. Please go read a book for five minutes. You and Frank Rizzo are hysterical because you are afraid of a naturally occurring species and bigoted towards the people who interact with this plant and your fear is the cause behind your desire to harm them.

    Esoteric Knowledge
    January 17, 2013 at 12:30 pm

  2. “Today’s drug culture has managed to invade the very police units whose missions are to curtail drug traffic.

    The ‘drug war’ is about money, not drugs. That’s not the ‘drug culture’ invading the police; that’s corruption that is always associated with prohibition. See the example of alcohol prohibition for a good example of this.

    “Now, there are more young people using marijuana than smoking cigarettes.”

    Tobacco kills 430,000 Americans per year, marijuana kills zero. The youth use rate in Holland is 1/4 the US use rate. Marijuana is sold in coffee shops in Holland to ADULTS. Marijuana is sold to teenagers in the US by illegal dealers.

    “In 2010, more than 150,000 young people (12 to 17) went to rehab to recover from marijuana addiction.”

    That’s because they were busted for possession and given the choice between rehab and jail. Self-admission for “marijuana addiction” is rare. Marijuana is not physically addictive, and it does not cause death like alcohol and pills do.

    Time to legalize marijuana and put the crooked cops and illegal dealers out of business!

    kevin hunt
    January 17, 2013 at 12:53 pm

  3. Although I agree wholeheartedly that teens should not be using marijuana, the use of marijuana has been the sole cause of NOT ONE REPORTED DEATH IN THE RECORDED HISTORY OF MANKIND.

    The reason young people don’t trust adults when it comes to drugs, is that they are fed fear instead of honest information. Telling a juvenile that all drugs ruin their lives doesn’t further the cause. If they try marijuana and realize its relatively benign effects, they may wonder what other drugs they have been told lies about.

    What we need is honest communication with our youth. Too much truth is available via the internet to them; and there is no going back to the “good old days” where children listened blindly to their parents.

    Rather than tell them that all drugs lead to death and addiction, let’s tell them the truth about what each drug does. That smoking pot can reduce their productivity. That heroin actually does cause death. That way, if a teen were to experiment with marijuana, (and let’s face it, many do) it affects them the way their parrents and teachers told them, and they could make an informed decision about the use of the drug, rather than a decision rooted in distrust.

    rational dissenter
    January 17, 2013 at 1:11 pm

  4. Exceptional advice regarding this subject, thanks so much for
    posting about it.

    Galveston Defense Attorneys
    January 17, 2013 at 3:35 pm

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