Food For Thought|
The Rise of Drug Use In
America and World
David Lawrence Dewey
"Reading provides knowledge...
knowledge leads to answers."
First, I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season filled with memories of sharing this time with loved ones.
For this column, I asked readers to write me their thoughts about the rise of drug use in the United States and worldwide. There have been countless articles about this subject in various publications over the last few months, but I have yet to find a piece that has not delved into the reasons why drug use has risen. Articles are full of statistics, but few have tackled the possible the reasons or solutions to solve this crisis.
Recently in two states, voters by referendum have legalized the use of marijuana to treat illnesses. However, the federal government intends to block this by taking away doctors licenses to dispense should they do so for patients. My comment on this is, I can fully understand federal officials doing this on the federal level if and only if the people had not given their approval of this for doctors. However, on the other hand, I can also see how this could become abused by the medical community like so many other things have. So, what is a possible solution? It has been proven medically that certain patients with such illnesses as glaucoma, neuromuscular diseases, AIDS and cancer can benefit from marijuana use for medical purposes. It has been shown to halt the progression in some glaucoma patients, while helping others with the horrific pain associated with their illness. A possible solution could be that instead of just one doctor being able to dispense a prescription for marijuana, it would take two different doctors to approve of such use. The drug itself could only be available from pharmacies with special licenses from the government to dispense it. This way the government could monitor the use of it.
Joanne, 45, a nurse from Kansas wrote, "It is about time that we got off the religious right bandwagon about being able to use so called prohibitive illegal drugs to treat patients who can benefit from their use.
I couldn't agree more with Joanne. And what does the above have to do with the rise of drug use. I've given this example of a problem to show that when a society as a consensus of a mass has decided to do something, no government on earth is going to stop them. They will one way or another find a way to use something or do something that they feel they need to do for whatever reason. The problem however is when a government steps in like they did during the prohibition of alcohol in the 1930's. The booze industry actually enjoyed a rise in the production of alcohol, because everyone just had to have that illegal substance that the government said they could not have. Don't tell a human you can't have something or do something. Humans have a god given need for the expression of freedom in its' purest form, that is what our country is based upon. And it is this containment of freedom in this area combined with possible social reasons that I believe have caused the rise of drug use. Let's explore this further.
Recently, researchers have discovered two variations in a gene that affects the way brain cells respond to serotonin. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter targeted by Prozac and other antidepressants. The gene comes in two sizes so to speak. A short version which promotes fewer of the molecules that facilitate serotonin reabsorption. The long version promotes the creation of much more of the molecules. The researchers tested 505 individuals and found that seventy percent had the short gene. They calculated this to represent that across the mass worldwide population, that approximately three to four percent of the population have this defect. I find this interesting because this percentage correlates to what is estimated in worldwide population use of drugs. Also, what I find interesting is this. Researchers who have done extensive questioning of drug users into the reasons why they started using drugs, found that being depression or being bored in their life accounted for the highest reasons. Many said they started to escape from their problems. The second most stated reason was, the wanting to try it out of curiosity and being told by a government that they couldn't.
Mark, 40, from Atlanta wrote, "I have two teenagers, a girl fifthteen, the other a sixteen boy. Both have recently told me after I asked them if they have tried smoking pot, that they have and one still does from time to time, the other didn't like it that much. The boy, who has also been treated for depression with antidepressants says it helps him out of depression. What I'm concerned about is, could this be a medical dependency problem, for my girl said she didn't need to smoke it to make her happy."
How ironic and interesting that I would receive such a letter. Maybe there is something to this these new findings in genetics folks!
Drug use among teenagers has risen tremendously over the last five years. In 1991, approximately 65,000 teenagers between the ages of 14-18 were arrested for smoking pot or marijuana. However, that jumped to over 147,000 arrests in 1996. This is a 147% increase. Eight graders arrests jumped from 6% in 1991 to over 18% in 1996 nationwide. I prefer to look at these statistics, for I believe this gives a truer picture of what is going on out there. And what is going on? This is what I think.
People and teenagers especially are simply bored and have become depressed more. Why? Look around yourself, but this time, look through the eyes of a teenager, what do you see? You see that crimes have increased to such a point that as an eighth grader your scared to death to even walk home from school, afraid of being shot on the street by a drive by. More and more each day, your family becomes poorer so to speak, while you see others enjoying the benefits of technology. And here I believe is the key. While America as a whole has become the richest nation on earth, the majority of its' people have become poorer during the last twenty years. Poorer in the sense twenty years ago, a dollar could buy a heck of allot more of something that it can today. You see teenagers actually beating up other teenagers for $150.00 Micheal Jordan sneakers. And you ask, where are the parents, its' the parents fault. Yes, it is the parents lack of guidance, however, they are not home enough to supervise their children. The average American family of four, two adults, two children, has both parents working full-time, some working two jobs, making less that $30,000.00 a year combined income and that is before taxes of approximately 27%. Parents simply do not have the time or are too tired to watch over their children like they did twenty years ago when usually the mother stayed at home to raise the children. No, I am not anti-woman, meaning that is where a woman should be, home, giving birth and raising the kids. However, I do strongly believe that in the world we live in today, that parents simply should not have children unless one of them are able to stay at home full time until the children are at least ten to twelve years old. Sorry, if this steps on a few women's toes, that is not the intent. If men could give birth, I would say this also. A person, simply cannot give birth to a child, try to work and raise that child in the way that it should, not in today's world.
Kari, 45, from Seattle wrote, "I believe that the biggest problem of teenage drug use is because the kids are bored, their parents are never home to give them the love, attention, values of life of what they need. We had two children, however, even though I had a business career, I became a home mother, not working until our children were twelve. It was only then that I felt along with my husband that I could return to the working world. We may have suffered somewhat financially for a few years, and may not have all the material things we could have, but we have our children as whole productive human beings of society by the values we taught them, and you can only teach children these values if you are around to do it."
Thank you Kari for supporting my thoughts on this subject. Society as a whole needs to really look upon itself of what they have done to cause this problem. If you live a life filled with a material outlook of survival only , and you either teach directly or indirectly children this, what type of values are going to be instilled in children. I think we have all seen the results of that. Over the last ten years, major crimes committed by teenagers such as murder has increased 200%. Where are the values of life in these teenagers?
People who illegally sell drugs know just who to target. The poor and depressed. However, the use of drugs among the affluent has risen also. So, what is the possible solution to this. The first step in the finding the solution will be when society for the first time sits itself down and admits that they have created a world that breeds selfishness, the need for material things, the loss of caring for another human being. This may sound like harsh words, but I hope what I am saying will be heard. Look around, you very seldom hear of someone helping someone, all you see is hate and envy increasing and more of this I, I, I, attitude. For centuries, prophets have predicted the final war that will end all wars. Have we been and are we in that final war already but too blind to see it? And does it actually have to happen where there will be wailing and blood running in the streets? No, I don't believe so. Drug use has risen worldwide because mankind as a whole is searching. They are searching for GOD or what GOD is suppose to be. Is it possible that mankind has lost God ( themselves) by turning to other things in their attempt to find GOD (themselves). God has not turned himself against his children. Mankind has turned against the God (themselves) within themselves. We have polluted our environment. Mother nature is tries to give us warning signs. Increase of tornadoes, hurricanes are natures way, God way of cleansing mother earth of this pollution. There are many other signs, if only mankind would listen. Or is that what mankind has forgotten to do above all else, listen. Have we forgotten to listen to that silence within that will always guide us to what is right, or have we listened to long to a cold world without love?
My comments are questions, not my condemnation of mankind. I nor any other person can be the judge of this, however, I do believe that once we stop asking the questions, once we stop listening, once we stop seeing what we need to see, do we then become blind. And once we have become blind, we have lost the ability to save ourselves. I hope we have not become so blind that we cannot bring the light back into the world to save use from that final war of wars.
My next column will be about the impact of new technologies upon our lives. Are these new technologies beneficial to us or are they creating more problems for us down the road. Will it create for freedom for us, or will we loose more of our freedom? Write me your thoughts.
~ David Lawrence Dewey ~
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Updated January 1st, 2005