Drug abuse is an issue that affects every country in the world. A wide variety of recreational drugs exist nowadays, but many of them are viewed as illegal in most countries. The United States in particular has a lengthy list of drugs that are illegal. These are often divided into different classes to determine their level of illegality. In spite of the strong penalties associated with the use and possession of certain drugs, many people are continuing to use these substances every day. This can often end up leading to addiction.
The Rise of Addiction
According to Drugabuse.gov, illicit drug use is on the rise in the United States. They report that 8.7 percent of the population had used illicit drugs at least once. This is over twenty-two million Americans. Illicit drugs were included with the abuse of psychotherapeutic medication such as antidepressants, pain relievers, tranquilizers and stimulants. These figures were collected in 2011. Many believe that since then the numbers have risen considerably and will continue to rise in the future.
The Most Commonly Used Drug
When you think of drug abuse and drug addiction, you will probably think of amphetamines, crystal meth or opiates such as heroine. The abuse of these drugs is very real, but it may surprise you to learn that the most commonly used drug was marijuana.
Drugabuse.gov reports a variety of statistics involving Americans and drug abuse:
- 22.5 million Americans used illicit drugs at least once in their lives;
- 18.1 million Americans had used marijuana at least once;
- 6.1 million Americans had, at one point in their lives, abused psychotherapeutics (pain relievers, stimulants etc.);
- 1.4 million Americans had taken cocaine;
- 1.0 million Americans had used some form of hallucinogen;
- 0.6 million Americans had used some form of inhalant;
- 0.3 million Americans had used heroine at some point.
Not all recreational drugs are illegal. In fact, marijuana at the moment stands in a sort of grey area. It is completely legal in states such as Washington and Colorado. In states like Michigan and New Jersey, it is legal on a state level for medicinal reasons. On an overall federal level, however, marijuana remains an illegal drug.
Other drugs include alcohol and tobacco (or, strictly speaking, nicotine). Smoking in particular is seen as a major health hazard. Reuters reports there has been a steady decline in the numbers of teenagers who are taking up smoking. Also, fewer adult Americans are smoking in general, according to ABC News.
It is interesting to note that drugs like marijuana seem to be on the rise whereas tobacco smoking in particular is on the decline. The decline of tobacco smoking, however, could be attributed to both health campaigns and the rise of the tar and chemical-free electronic cigarette.