- Mental Health»
Are Our Kids Addicted to Drugs and Alcohol?
Role Model and Support Healthy Activity Addictions, Not Bad Ones.
Dependency of Any Substance is Unhealthy
Why do I think our kids have an addiction problem? Oh I don’t know, could it be when looking through our nation’s addiction related statistics it doesn’t bode well in understanding that many children, like adults have a drug problem. Let’s take a look at the most recognized illegal/legal drug use data and then decide how many of us will escape an addictive habit that could ultimately cause each one of us more pain and suffering than necessary. And just because a depressant or stimulant (liquor, tobacco, prescriptions, illegal drugs, etc.) can be purchased legally/illegally does not mean it can’t become an addictive harmful habit. Or that the product/substance is not causing harm to you or those you care about.
I noted there was a ton of information on legal and illegal drug use and addiction. So I just dove into it and came up with some impressive drug use data. Looking at the DEA Drug Seizure statistics for 2010, the following drug confiscation data seized and measured in kilograms was recorded: Cocaine (29,179 kgs), Heroin (690kgs), Marijuana (722,476kgs), and Methamphetamine (2,067 kgs), Hallucinogens (2,578,935 dosage units). These numbers are indeed alarming statistics. But, it is also acknowledged by all drug enforcement agencies that these numbers only represent a fraction of what’s being used. So really, how do you quantify actual production and use of drugs distributed under the radar?
In 2010, national and state statistics information pertaining to drug use, addiction and drug abuse shows: 22.6 million Americans over the age of 12 have or have used illicit drugs within the last month of the survey being completed. The drug most used by 17.4 million individuals other than alcohol is marijuana; and then followed by painkillers, then hallucinogens and cocaine. Drug overdoses has risen 540% since 1980. Prescription drug abuse is up 500% since 1990. The cost to employer’s employee productivity from drug abuse is 122 billion dollars per year.
Now looking at alcohol as America’s number one legal drug problem, it appears almost none of us can escape being exposed to a legal substance that for many will destroy lives. After all none of us knows who has an addictive predisposition to abuse alcohol or for that matter any other legal or illegal drug.
For many children an alcohol experience begins at a very early stage in life. This proof is easily obtained by simply reviewing a bit of data. For example, at the beginning of the year 2000, an estimated 7 million of our youth from 12 to 20 years old admitted to being drinkers. Another 6.4 million were admitted binge drinkers. Over 6 million children claimed to live with parents that have a drug addiction problem. 56% of students in grades 5 to 12 mention that advertising alcoholic beverages encourages them to drink.
In 2001, surveys showed 25 million Americans admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol and that 23% of our 18-25 year olds self admitted to this fact. Local law enforcement statistics shows us that ~2 million arrests nationwide are made each year due to driving under the influence. Although these statistical numbers are alarming, it would be more alarming because these numbers do not represent the entire alcohol abuse picture. The same is also true of national surveys; many do not self-proclaim their alcohol use, or do not get caught. But one statistic is pretty accurate: the latest National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows 17,488 people were killed in vehicular traffic related accidents. Now compare that number to the population of a mid-size town, that’s alarming.
What is the impact to our economy regarding alcohol abuse? Approximately 100 million in health care costs, employment productivity losses, penal system costs, personal injury, property damage and intervention treatment, etc. Unemployed adults are found to be the highest percentage (12.2%) of drinkers between the ages of 26 through 34. Industrial injuries (47%) and fatalities (40%) are directly related to alcohol abuse.
You’ll find much information on the Internet to support the contention that cultural shock, drug use and addiction are inter-related and are greatly affecting behavior. For which many genetically predisposed to addiction will become statistical addicts and mortalities of harmful legal and illegal drugs.
What should you take away from this information? Watch your kids behavioral and consumption habits. Strive to teach balance in consumption, nutrition and fitness activity; as well as calling them on bad behavior. However, you must instill these lessons at an early age. If not, addiction and abuse of legal, including illegal habits may cause ill-health, or lead to acting out with bad behavior. Addiction may not only complicate your child’s life but the dynamics of your family.
It is obvious there is a plethora of addictive legal and illegal products in the market that are easily obtainable for our consumption. Unfortunately when you become addicted to any substance; the potential to abuse other drugs also tend to increase.
And harmful drug dependency not only harms the user, but also harms those with whom they interact, and cost to society when health is impacted, or others are harmed as a result of bad behavior. Be sure to talk to your children and teach them the pitfalls and lessons learned with regard to abuse and potential addiction and detrimental results as a result of such use.