There’s Hope In Renewing Efforts Against Drug Abuse

When was the last time you read or heard anything positive about how our country and state are dealing with drug and alcohol abuse?

For those of us involved in the field of drug prevention and education, we cringe every time we hear the phrase “war on drugs” because we know the vast majority of Americans think it’s a losing battle.

Well, the conversation about eliminating substance abuse is changing before our eyes and finally, we may be making some real inroads.

Of course, it starts with our kids.

According to the latest figures from the Office of National Drug Control Policy, drug use among youth has declined by 25% since 2001 and that 860,000 fewer young people are using drugs than they were six years ago.

The use of drugs such as ecstasy and meth among young people have plummeted by more than half.  The lethal meth labs in Oregon that used to be featured on the evening news have all but disappeared because of  state  legislation making pseudoephedrine products prescription-only.

Oregon teens who just a few years ago may have been intrigued by meth have learned enough about its ugliness and more are staying away from it.

None of this is by accident. Intense media coverage, prevention, education, increased awareness, and action by lawmakers and law enforcement alike, have helped keep more of our kids off drugs.

We are seeing a renewed effort among business leaders, educators, and community organizations to intensify prevention efforts.

Last week, the Portland City Council took a major step by approving a city-wide drug strategy that recognizes the need “to build and mobilize a comprehensive, community-wide social movement to address this issue.”

Medical science is making dramatic inroads in understanding the effects of the brain – especially the teenage brain – on drug and alcohol abuse.  Researchers are learning more – practically monthly – on the neurological effects of substance abuse and how to translate that into improved treatment of addiction.

And the researchers tell us the verdict is in: The longer we can keep our teens from using alcohol and other drugs, the much better chance they’ll have of not having problems in adulthood.

But let’s not fool ourselves. According to the Oregon Healthy Teens Survey, more high school kids now smoke marijuana than cigarettes.  And make no mistake – today’s pot is a lot more potent than it used to be in the last generation.

Oregon Partnership’s crisis lines are getting more calls from young people who are becoming addicted to prescription drugs, which is probably the most frightening new trend in the country’s drug abuse landscape.

About a third of our teens abuse alcohol, and binge drinking on college campuses is practically an epidemic. A recent U.S. Surgeon General’s report found that underage drinking is viewed as a rite of passage and facilitated by adults.

But parents need to understand that they are the biggest influence in children’s lives, and the more they talk to their children about the dangers of drugs and underage drinking (and the conversation should start in grade school!), the less likely their kids will give in to peer pressure.

There’s a hopeful precedent in this battle, and it came to the forefront in 1982 when the U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop issued his no-nonsense warning about the health dangers of tobacco.

The percentage of Americans who smoke has declined steadily since – it’s now at 17% according to the new Harris Poll –  with the culture and acceptance of cigarette smoking in this country continuing to dismantle.  This would have seemed unfathomable less than just a generation ago.

The same phenomenon can be applied to drugs and underage drinking with a renewed dedication by all of us. 

Judy Cushing, President/CEO

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5 Responses to There’s Hope In Renewing Efforts Against Drug Abuse

  1. Phil says:

    Hopefully there will be new methods to treat addictions in the near future. I’m hoping to see big things from vaccines to fight addiction a few years down the road. Parents can set a good example for their kids and not smoke, drink, or use illegal drugs.

  2. Trevor says:

    Are you actually saying that you believe the figures put out by the Office Of National Drug Control Policy? I mean, you can’t be serious!

    And are you so incredibly naive that you think that anyone can accurately measure the use of drugs like meth by teens?

    And “medical science is making dramatic inroads in understanding the effects of the brain – especially the teenage brain – on drug and alcohol abuse.”?? Gee, I didn’t know that a brain could have an effect on drug and alcohol abuse, I thought it was the other way around.

    The “war on drugs” propaganda machine relies on people like you. Totally naive. If you’re going to try and say something mildly intelligent about the issue, try talking to some actual people in recovery, or better yet, some active users. Then you’ll get the truth instead of the ridiculous statements flowing out of the government, and parroted by people like you.

  3. Pete says:

    We talk with people in recovery almost every day. And yes the brain DOES have an effect on drug and alcohol abuse. Maybe we’re just arguing over semantics.

    And yes, teen surveys are done all the time on drug and alcohol abuse – on local, state and national levels. Trends are also relatively easy to trace when it comes to illegal drugs – any police agency can tell you that.

  4. Joanna says:

    Trevor:
    Good for you for standing up against the drug-free federal machine, these radicals are funded by a federal agency that thinks spending billions of tax dollars to invade other countries and spray toxic chemicals to eliminate coca and opium plants is a good use of our tax dollars. Then the have the audacity to fund quasi-scientist to take pictures of the brain to reveal the obvious–drug abuse causes brain damage. Why invest so much money in this propaganda and pseudo-science?

    If you can read (trust me it is harder than in sounds) their entire strategic you’ll see it is nothing but a 1980’s pipe dream. I love the fact that they never mention any demographic information about who is in jail for drug crimes, nor do they ever link the fact that the main factor in reducing tobacco smoking was government regulation—hmmm, perhaps we should adapt a regulatory policy to reduce drug use. So long as the Office of National Drug Control Policy continues to leach precious federal dollars for their failed policies and stupid commercials, mindless drones likes these will infest all level of our government with twisted, naive, and alarmist drivel.

  5. George Fineman says:

    Trevor:
    You’re my hero and a proof reading god!– “Medical Science is making dramatic inroads in understanding the effects of the brain–especially the teenage brain—on alcohol and drug abuse.” This post has inspired me to become a “medical scientist” and learn how young brains effect alcohol and drug abuse–

    Joanna you need to complete your thoughts–I should read the entire strategic…what??

    We need a GRAMMAR CZAR to stop the Drug CZAR…

    George

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