“Addiction doesn’t discriminate.” You may have heard something along these lines before, and it is so true. Drug use and drug addiction happen among groups of all ages, ethnicities, socio-economic status, etc. Although some drugs are more prevalent in certain areas than others, most drugs are found pretty much everywhere. Across the United States, there are two substances used and abuse at a significantly higher rate than others.
It is no secret that the prevalence of opioid addiction has climbed to alarming rates across the United States of America. Although most will stand firm that opioid-based medication has its place in our society, it has also caused serious issues. In fact, opioids accounted for almost 70% of all 2018 drug overdoses in the US. That is 10’s of thousands of deaths caused by a group of drugs used as prescription medication. Although the rate dropped almost 8% compared to the previous year, there were still 168 million opioid prescriptions dispensed to American patients in 2018. These rates have been slowly decreasing over the past couple of years. However, the 2012 peak of opioid prescriptions left behind an overwhelming crisis that hundreds of thousands of Americans still struggle with today. Hence, making opioids one of the most commonly used illicit drugs in America.
A drug recently legalized in many U.S. states for even recreational use; marijuana is a substance that we pretty recently completely illegal to grow, sell, or possess. It is still classified as a Schedule I substance according to the DEA and was not even legal for medicinal purposes in most parts of the country until the past couple of years. However, that has not stopped marijuana from maintaining its position as one of the most commonly used substances in America. The 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that an estimated 43.5 million Americans aged 12 or older had used marijuana in the past year, more than 15% of the population. Despite the efforts of elementary school drug education programs, even 12.5% of individuals between the ages of 12 and 17 reported using marijuana. These statistics make marijuana one of the most widely used drugs among teens as well as adults.
A Common Thread
Did you notice something interesting that these two substances have in common? Well, we did. Both of these have also been made legal for medical use across the country. Although this may be a pure coincidence, it also may not be. The reality is that just about anything can be addictive, but maintaining control and moderation is the key to life and drugs. When marijuana and opioids are used carefully, they do have potential benefits. However, they also carry very clear risks. If you eat too much chocolate, you get a stomach ache. If you take too much morphine, you overdose. It is a risk that warrants prudent consideration.