Last updated: September 25, 2023
On June 17, 1971, President Richard Nixon declared that the United States was launching a war on drugs. To date, America has spent over a trillion dollars enforcing the drug policies put in place over the past half a century. Have America’s drug habits changed for the better overall?
The war on drugs campaign has spanned nine administrations and led to the creation of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 1973. The war on drugs was supposed to help people want to stop using drugs. It was to focus on uniting communities and taking drugs off the streets.
Still, many believe that despite pouring trillions of dollars into prevention, penalties, and treatment, the war on drugs hasn’t paid off in the least because our nation has moved steadily in the opposite direction.
The numbers tell the tale
In 1999, less than 20,000 people died from a drug overdose. That figure had doubled by 2014 and more than tripled to reach 70,630 in 2019.
Judging from the data gathered for 2020 so far, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that things continue to get worse instead of better. Sadly, it’s estimated that 93,000 people died because they overdosed on drugs last year alone.
That’s an increase of 30% from the year before.
Of course, the pandemic is being blamed as the reason that more people turned to drugs during 2020. When people are faced with difficult, unsettling situations, many turn to drugs or alcohol to help them cope with fear and uncertainty. This past year has been enough to send hordes of people running to find drug dealers—not just here in America, but around the globe.
Rampant increase of substance abuse
The CDC reported that when COVID-19 forced lockdowns and the closure of schools and businesses, drug use began to skyrocket. There were increased reports of positive urine drug screens almost immediately.
Those positive tests identified an increase in fentanyl, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine use. Marijuana and alcohol use was also on the rise—especially among people suffering from anxiety and depression or any type of COVID-related stress.
Isolating the problem
When someone suffers from anxiety, depression, or stress disorders, isolation doesn’t work to their advantage. In fact, it can exacerbate the problem because being left alone with their thoughts can be likened to torture because they can’t turn them off—and they tend to grow continually darker.
Imagine being locked down and unable to reach out to your normal support systems. It makes it easier to understand why the risk of relapsing grows with each passing day for someone who struggles with alcohol or drug abuse.
Couple that with the number of people who hadn’t suffered from anxiety or stress prior to the onset of the pandemic and who may have tried drugs for the first time only to become addicted…
It doesn’t bode well for which way drug habits are trending, is it?
Hitting on another issue
While there hasn’t been an overdose death reported, it’s no secret that marijuana potency is continuing to rise to higher levels. Not only that, but manufacturers are actually creating “super potent” products that contain extremely high concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Potent strains of marijuana are mixed together to create an orange or brown sugar-colored waxy substance known as a “dab.” And, our teenagers—especially those from wealthy families who can afford the more expensive drug and the pens used to ingest it—have changed their drug habits in regard to smoking marijuana because of it.
They’re “dabbing” like crazy.
Parents are sounding the alarm about their children’s outrageous and out-of-control behavior after using these high-potency products.
Teens and young adults are drawn to the dab because they get super high, super fast. The dab pens look like vaping pens and cost between $20 and $200. They work electronically.
There’s little odor or smoke so it’s easy to sneak away and take a hit. One is probably all they need because the THC potency levels of a dab reach up to 90%!
Teens report slurred speech and feeling “wobbly” or even passing out after dabbing.
As is usually the case, teens catch on to new trends long before parents, but parents do wise up. In Colorado, a growing number of parents are calling for changes in legislation to help protect their children from the potential dangers of dabbing.
There are concerns that high levels of THC can impact the development of the teenage brain causing mental disorders. This is extremely concerning because, despite the increased levels of THC found in pot today, teens and young adults continue to think of marijuana as a harmless drug.
Unfortunately, that may not be the case at all.
Habits are hard to break
The fact that overdose deaths have increased consistently every year since the war on drugs began makes it hard to believe that we’re winning the war.
We can’t admit defeat though.
Drug abuse and addiction are destroying the American family.
Drugs in the workplace cost employers billions of dollars every year due to increased medical coverage, accidents, and employee’s who call in sick or quit out of the blue.
We have to keep teaching our children about the dangers of drug addiction and abuse. It gives them the tools they need to make informed decisions. Some of them choose to decline when they’re offered drugs.
We want that number to rise every year.
Do you have a drug-free program set up for your company? If you don’t you should consider starting one. It makes your company a safer place to work. Statistics show that employers who establish drug-free programs see a drop in workplace accidents.
Moreover, employee turnover rates drop too—that’s because drug-free programs are a great deterrent. Drug addicts don’t even bother to apply for a job when they know there’s a drug test involved.
Let’s keep pressing in against drug abuse until the drug habits in America change for the better. Better as in making the choice to live drug-free becomes the norm.
There is no other viable option.