Good news and drugs. It’s not a typical pairing in most people’s minds. Right now, for example, the United States is trying to come to grips with what many are calling an epidemic of deaths due to heroin overdoses tied to opioid addiction. The attorney general of the United States recently cited this serious reality in asking Congress for permission to prosecute states which have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes. This kind of political exploitation tends to confuse issues and make the bad news sound even worse. So I went looking for some good news.
It didn’t take long to find and it came, if you will, from the horse’s mouth, which is to say, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, which are part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The government.
Since 1975, the NIDA has been conducting the Monitoring the Future Survey, which tracks drug use and attitudes among eighth, 10th and 12th graders in the United States. Its most recent report was released in December 2016. It contained quite a bit of good news.
According to the NIDA, “Use of many substances is at its lowest level since the survey’s inception (1975), including alcohol, cigarettes, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, inhalants, and sedatives (reported only by 12th graders). Other illicit drugs showed 5-year declines, including marijuana (among eighth and 10th graders), synthetic cannabinoids (K2/herbal incense, sometimes called “synthetic marijuana”), prescription opioids (reported in the survey as “narcotics other than heroin”), hallucinogens, amphetamines, and over-the-counter cough and cold medications.”
And on that national epidemic, here’s NIDA again: “Despite the continued rise in opioid misuse and overdose deaths among adults, past-year misuse of prescription opioids has continued to decline among high school seniors. Over the past 5 years, misuse has dropped 45…