Are we now a totally drug-infected nation?

On drug abuse

There is no doubt that we are a drug using society. Both licit and illicit drugs are increasing at an exponentially rapid pace in our nation.

The pharmaceuticals have done wonders in healing, curing, controlling diseases and infirmities; and have extended the life span of our citizens. But they have also been widely abused and caused many deaths.

Prescription medications aside, the major culprits in our need to affect the brain are the illicit drugs…the drugs that are taken to satisfy the seemingly unquenchable thirst to alter the thought processes and emotions of our brain.

In the past year I have written many articles on the Opioid Epidemic plaguing our nation, which has claimed hundreds of thousands of individuals in our nation, and has added to the nearly 20 million individuals addicted to drugs. The use of Cannabis is now also at epidemic proportions, largely as a result of legalizing cannabis for recreational use in 9 states and our nation’s capital.

The use of synthetic drug substances is at an all time high, as are caffeinated energy drinks. Caffeinated coffee consumption is at an all time high as well. Ethyl Alcohol beverage consumption is also at an all time high.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has cited recent data collected from U.S. emergency departments (EDs), and in their article “U.S. Opioid Overdose Epidemic Getting Worse,” reports that visits for opioid overdoses, and suspected overdoses, are on the rise across our nation.

Acting director of the CDC, Anne Schuchat, M.D., stated in media interview, “This fast moving epidemic does not distinguish age, sex, or state or county lines, and is still increasing in every region of the United States.”

She went on to say, “Up until now, we’ve been reporting on the tragic loss of life from opioid overdoses, but for every fatal case, there are many more nonfatal cases, each one with its own emotional and economic toll.”

I have previously written last week about the increase in cannabis use in the U.S., most remarkably among our adolescents; particularly note worthy is the increase of those experiencing Cannabis Induced Psychosis.

Also of note is the changing attitudes and values that adolescents place on the use of Cannabis; the majority not favoring their individual use, but, quite contradictory, not seeing anything wrong in its use.

Cannabis continues to be problematic in our nation, both with the individuals whom consume it, their families, and with the general populous.

Humans desire for altering the thought processes and mood has always been with us, from time in memorial.

The need to feel the relaxation and improvement of social interaction with the chemical substance ethyl alcohol; the exhilaration provided by stimulant drugs such as caffeine, methamphetamines, cocaine, etc.; the relaxant/euphoric and hallucinogenic affects of Cannabis; to feel the narcotic affects of opioids…all designed to take a person outside of their own “comfort zone,” to affect the areas of the brain having to do with thought processes and mood.

The majority of people in our society are not satisfied with the way that they think or feel, and the need to alter their thinking and mood with mind-altering drugs providing the necessary vehicle and means of change.

What can be done? As I have so very, very often stated; the key lies in the area of interdiction and education. We cannot solve the problem of illicit drug use if we do not stop the production and flow of illicit drugs into our nation, and provide sanctions on those states that are defying federal laws in legalizing illicit drugs such as cannabis…perhaps their federal funds should be withheld.

Values and attitudes relative to drugs and their use need to change, and this can only occur with education. We cannot just have one month a year dedicated to drug abuse prevention; it must be ever present all year around. Yes, my friends, the major area of concentration needs to be on continuing education.

In our schools we need to teach about the truths concerning drugs in all classes, at all grade levels, all the time. In our churches and synagogues we need to teach (or re-teach) people about the values and attitudes relative to drugs, most specifically the affect on families. Our civic leaders; county and other judges, mayors, council persons, congress people; need to become more involved through their efforts in attempts to curb the problems relative to drugs in their communities, counties, the state, and our nation.

Law enforcement personnel, at all levels, have a most meaningful voice in providing education concerning drugs and drug use. Media; newspapers, radio, and TV need to have an increase in public information concerning drugs and their abuse; not just the one or two ads per day.

And, perhaps most importantly, we need to tell our elected officials about the need to increase funding for interdiction, prevention, and treatment efforts. All of these efforts really need a “step up.”

I hope that the reader does not see this article as all “doom and gloom.” I am well aware that the majority of our populous, although using ethyl alcohol beverage, do not use illicit drug substances and take prescription medications responsibly. You are the ones who should be a beacon for those that do use illicit substances or abuse their medications.

With Spring Break upon us here in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, many of our youth will be consuming alcohol, and many for the first time. There will be problematic situations arising; driving and drinking, inappropriate behaviors, illicit drug possession and use etc.

It is my hope that this will be a time of responsibility and awareness for those of adult age who consume alcohol and the use of illicit substances; and most importantly for our communities. Until Next Time, Stay Healthy My Friends!