Government reports show that America’s youth, persons betweenthe ages of 12 and 17, are abusing prescription drugs instead ofthe usual drugs like marijuana, LSD, and ecstasy in order to gethigh.
According to the 2003 National Survey on DrugUse released on Sept. 9, as shown on the website for SubstanceAbuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Office ofApplied Studies, the rate of marijuana use among youths was 8.2percent in 2002 and 7.9 percent in 2003, There was a significantdecline in lifetime marijuana use among youths, from 20.6 percentin 2002 to 19.6 percent in 2003. There also were decreases in ratesof past year usesof LSD (1.3 to 0.6 percent), Ecstasy (2.2 to 1.3percent), and methamphetamine (0.9 to 0.7 percent).
The website also highlighted that there was asignificant increase in lifetime nonmedical use of pain relieversbetween 2002 and 2003 among persons aged 12 or older, from 29.6million to 31.2 million. Some specific pain relievers withstatistically significant increases in lifetime use wereLorcet® (from 13.1 million to 15.7 million); Hydrocodone(from 4.5 million to 5.7 million); and OxyContin® (from1.9 million to 2.8 million).
It was reported that 6.3 million Americanswere repeatedly taking prescription drugs used forpsychotherapeutic purposes without having been prescribed thatmedication. The survey also found that 8.7 percent of the 19.5million drug users 12 years of age or older were Black.
Dr. Micheal Washington, chairman of theEmergency Medical Room at Howard University Hosptial admits thatnot many Black youth or young adults are coming into the emergencyroom after overdosing on prescription drugs.
“Most Black young people from downtown DC,” hesaid, “are in search of pure high that comes from alcohol or PCP.It’s just easier for them to obtain illegal drugs as opposed toprescription drugs,” Mr. Washington added
In addition, Eric W. Nickens, M.H.S.,director of Drug Education and Prevention at Howard Universitysaid, “Since minority populations, unfortunately, do not go tophysicians regularly due to economic situations, it’s moredifficult for many Blacks to get prescription drugs on a regularbasis that they can use for recreational purposes.”
Mr. Nickens also said that the most dangerousdrug out today is alcohol. He set up the anecdote about when aperson cuts his or her self; he or she then applies alcohol to thecut in order to kill the germs. Similarly, when alcohol is consumedit slowly kills any organs that it touches.
He continued saying that youth who are not oldenough to buy alcohol then may decide to overdose on OTC (over thecounter) drugs because of their high alcohol content. “The averageyoung person doesn’t have ID to get alcohol, so they buy a box ofNyQuil instead, which is equivalent to a shot of whiskey.”
The survey did find that 10.9 million personsbetween the ages of 12 and 20 do participate in underage drinking.College students between the ages of 18 and 22 who are enrolled inschool full time are more likely to use alcohol, as opposed tostudents enrolled part time or people not enrolled at all. Also,about 40 percent of adults between 18 and 25 had smoked cigaretteswithin the month prior to the survey.