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U.S. Drug Trends and Drug and Alcohol Treatment

U.S. drug trends show that rates of drug use are increasing in this country, with nearly 23 million having abused either an illicit street drug or prescription drug at least once in the past month. Just this past year, there were over 3 million first time drug users in the U.S. This translates into an estimated 8,400 new users each day, half of which are minors. About a quarter of the 18 to 20-year olds in this country report using an illicit drug in the past month, although rates of drug use are also extremely high among older individuals partly because of the aging "baby boomer" population who are known to have higher rates of substance abuse than other generations. So with no signs of change or decline in U.S. drug trends in the past decade or so, the need for drug and alcohol treatment among individuals of all ages has never been greater.

Marijuana is and has been for quite some time the most abused illicit drug in this country. Over the past several years, rates of use of marijuana have seen a dramatic rise from around 14 million current users in 2007 to over 18 million current users now. And despite the common misconception that marijuana is a safe drug and is not addictive, over 4 million marijuana users met the criteria for dependence and addiction last year. Marijuana is also considered to be a gateway drug, and teenagers use marijuana for the first time more than any other drug. In fact, nearly 70% of first time drug users used marijuana as their first drug to experiment with this past year. With pop culture glorifying its use and reported benefits, there is no indication that use rates will decline and in fact rates are projected to continue their steady increase. No one should take the effects and risks associated with marijuana use lightly, and individuals can very easily become dependent and addicted to this drug and require drug treatment. When they do, every effort should be made to get them drug treatment before even more powerful drugs come into the picture and before any serious long-term consequences result.

After marijuana, U.S. drug trends indicate that abuse of prescription drugs is the second biggest drug threat in this country. Prescription drugs are also the second most popular type of drug, just following marijuana, among first time drug users. Among first time drug initiates, 14% report having used a prescription pain reliever as their drug of choice last year. Over 6 million Americans reported having used prescription drugs non-medically in the past month, meaning they used this type of drug for recreational purposes to get high instead of having or following a prescription for them. It is unfortunate that users can be under the false impression that prescription drugs are safe to abuse because they are legal and considered less risky to use than illicit street drugs. What these users may not know is that prescription drugs, particularly pain relievers, are now responsible for more drug related deaths each year than all other illegal drugs combined. So these types of drugs are nothing to play with. Furthermore, over 2 million people in this country met the criteria for dependence and addiction to prescription drugs last year, indicating that drug treatment for this problem must be made available to anyone involved in prescription drug abuse before there are further negative effects and consequences.

Cocaine has remained a very serious drug threats for quite some time in this country and continues to show extremely high rates of abuse according to U.S. drug trends. Cocaine was abused by nearly 5 million people last year in the U.S., including 2 million current regular users of the drug. As a stimulant, cocaine is a very dangerous and powerful drug the use of which carries many risks. In 2008 for example, cocaine was involved in nearly half a million emergency room visits and accounted for nearly ¼ of all drug related ER visits that year.

Heroin in particular is seeing a resurgence in popularity according to U.S. drug trends, as prescription pain reliever abusers flip flop from heroin to these powerful opiate drugs, depending on what is easier to obtain and least costly. With the surge in popularity of heroin there has also been a 50% price increase over the past several years because the drug is in such high demand. Unfortunately, purity levels have decreased by nearly 20% which puts users at risk of putting things in their bodies which may temporarily or permanently harm them or potentially kill them, not to mention the risks they already expose themselves to with heroin use alone.

Methamphetamine use rates has seen somewhat of a decline in recent years after being such a prevalent drug of choice in the early 2000's, but it is still one of the top drugs of choice among Americans who use it for its powerful stimulant effects. U.S. drug trends regarding meth indicate that treatment admissions to long-term drug rehab facilities due to methamphetamine or amphetamine outnumbered admissions for all other drugs combined over the past decade or so. So meth is still a very big drug threat in the country and one which can cause serious consequences due to its effects and long-term side effects. There are also serious dangers and risks involved with making meth which is part of the problem, as this is a very dangerous process which has resulted in many deaths and injuries.

Certain drugs can be injected intravenously such as heroin and methamphetamine; cocaine can also be injected but this is rare. This method of administration of any drug has long been associated with the transmission of blood-borne disease, and is responsible for about a third of AIDS cases in the U.S. And sadly, about 50% of intravenous drug users who are infected with HIV don't know they are infected yet continue to share dirty needles in the drug community and spread the disease to others. Many drugs users who have already have HIV or AIDS are aware of it often don't take the proper medications or precautions to prolong their life. And even if they do take the proper medicines to slow the disease, their drug use makes these medications virtually ineffective and many will perish if they don't receive drug and/or alcohol treatment.

Use of what is known as "party" or "club" drugs such as Ecstasy (MDMA), GHB, and hallucinogens such as LSD or magic mushrooms for example is also on the rise according to U.S. drug trends. The numbers are astounding with about 3 million adults estimated to have used the club drug Ecstasy and about 780,000 Americans reporting use of the hallucinogen LSD in the past year. In a recent study of around 1,900 club-goers in New York City, about 70% reported lifetime use of club drugs and around 20% reported recent use. And this is a problem among adolescents as well, with U.S. drug trends indicating that nearly 5% of high school seniors report past year use of club drugs such as Ecstasy. While these drugs may be fun to use while high on them and appealing to young adults and party-goers, they can cause serious health and social consequences despite any positive effects they are taken for.

One may have heard the term "bath salts" in the news recently, a fairly new type of synthetic drug which looks like a brown or white crystalline powder, and is packaged much like the common bath salt or Epsom salt one would find at a drug store or specialty store. The drug bath salts are obviously meant for illicit use, and users should not be disillusioned by the seemingly benign name of these drugs. Bath salts are extremely powerful and act as a stimulant when taken, but also have hallucinogenic properties and can cause intense paranoia, agitation and psychosis in users. Several deaths have been reported, and there have been several instances of users doing things extremely out of the ordinary while under the influence of bath salts. Some of the things which people do while high on bath salts is downright disturbing; a testament to the hallucinogenic and psychoactive properties of these synthetic drugs. The effects of these bath salts is known to be ten times more powerful than cocaine, in terms of effects on dopamine levels in the brain and central nervous system, so one can imagine how addictive and dangerous they are. Yet, individuals who don't understand the risks are trying bath salts and very quickly becoming hooked on them.

Alcohol and alcoholism continue to be a serious problem of concern according to U.S. drug trends. Despite how acceptable it is to drink and binge drink in society today, alcohol is a drug and can lead to just as many consequences and risks as any other illicit street drug. U.S. drug trends indicate that over 25% of drinkers in this country are underage, nearly 16% of which are involved in binge drinking. Statistics show that American males are more likely to engage in binge and heavy drinking at 30%, yet women also do so with about 14% of American females reported binge drinking in the past month. The consequences of alcohol abuse and alcoholism are very evident with many individual losing their lives each year because of alcohol induced disease or accidents and driving accidents where alcohol was involved. In 2011, about 30 million Americans reported having driven a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol at least once in the past year. This is course a major public safety concern which results in serious consequences for the drinkers and innocent victims who lose their lives in alcohol related motor vehicle crashes each year.

These U.S. drug trends show a real need for an effective answer in the form of drug and alcohol treatment. While drug and alcohol treatment has been available for decades, treatment methods and techniques have been perfected over the years and it is now better understood which will prove most effective. Individuals who are addicted to drugs or alcohol will want to put themselves in the best position to experience a full recovery, to avoid any of the serious consequences mentioned above from the different drugs that individuals can very quickly become dependent and addicted to.

Recent studies and statistics provide insight into which types of drug and alcohol treatment do in fact provide the best outcomes, and these treatment programs are those which require a long-term stay in an inpatient or residential drug rehab facility. Long-term meaning the individual will typically remain in treatment for at least a few months and potentially longer depending on how serious their issues are. The benefit of remaining in an inpatient or residential drug or alcohol treatment setting is that the individual will be able to become well without the possibility of outside influences distracting them or jeopardizing the rehabilitation process.

Once an individual is in a drug or alcohol treatment facility, treatment professionals will go to work and get them safely through detox and withdrawal as a first step. Once detox and withdrawal are safely completed and the individual is able to focus on the rest of their treatment program clearly, treatment professionals will help individuals become truly rehabilitated by helping treatment clients resolve the emotional and psychological issues in their lives which prompted them to abuse drugs in the first place. Individuals will need to remain in drug and alcohol treatment as long recommended by treatment professionals, and should not expect this to be a fast or easy process. The time and effort spent however will ensure that they are not another casualty to addiction, and that they can once again live their lives drug free and as productive members of society. Everyone deserves this opportunity, and it is truly available to anyone and everyone who wants it. Contact a treatment professional as a drug and alcohol treatment facility today to get started.