Updated 22 January 2019, Marc Woodard
Why do I say most American’s have a drug use problem?
Drug chemical addictions aren’t all connected to illicit activity with potential to incarcerate someone.
To educate our children fully on unhealthy addiction habits, it is important for parents to also learn and share how the marketplace supplies hyper-palatable addictive food and drinks with chemical stimulants that appear harmless… but have the potential to lead to an illicit gateway drug and cause increased health risk.
To begin understanding this connection, let’s review the obvious first – illicit drug use and harm to society. Then look at how legal chemicals are hidden in food products that begin an addictive lifestyle habit starting at a young age. You may than deduce the legal – plus the illicit substance use in total is causing far more harm to society than what the latest data shows us. And that most Americans are addicted to some form of chemical stimulant or drug.
Looking at the DEA Drug Seizure statistics for 2010/2014, It shows the following drug confiscation data seized and measured in kilograms: Cocaine (30,061/33,770 kgs), Heroin (713/1,020kgs), Marijuana (725,862/74,225kgs), and Methamphetamine (2,224/2946 kgs), Hallucinogens (2,605,997/48,970 dosage units).
Illicit drug use is on the rise with the exception of Marijuana [likely to do with states legalization] and Hallucinogens [May be significantly declining – partly to do with States Marijuana legalization, easier access to pharmaceuticals and other drugs; and/or the table is pending DEA table update]. NOTE: CY 2014 statistics are preliminary and subject to updating.
These numbers are indeed impressive drug seizure statistics. But, it is also acknowledged by all drug enforcement agencies that they only represent a fraction of what’s being used on the streets. So really, how do you quantify actual production and use of drugs under the radar? The answer is you can’t. For every person incarcerated and kilogram seized, many don’t get caught. The data only represents a fraction of what’s out there within the illicit drug market.
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 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.
“In 2014, 27.0 million people aged 12 or older used an illicit drug in the past 30 days [an increase of ~4.5 million users from the 2010 data], ‘which corresponds to about 1 in 10 Americans (10.2 percent). This percentage in 2014 was higher than those in every year from 2002 through 2013. The illicit drug use estimate for 2014 continues to be driven primarily by marijuana use and the nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers, with 22.2 million current marijuana users aged 12 or older … and 4.3 million people aged 12 or older who reported current nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers.” (Hedden et al., 2015)
Addictive drug use data is used as a predictive indicator to determine future sales and potential earnings for other addictive consumables. For example, in knowing Americans spend an average of $90 billion dollars every year on alcoholic beverages has a percentage based relationship to alcohol and other mind altering substances related to automobile crashes and spousal abuse for example. These statistics are also very good predictors of other social and penal services needed for policing, intervention and incarceration services, programs, equipment and facilities resources.
For many children an alcohol experience begins at a very early stage in life. At the beginning of 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, a survey 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 only a portion of alcohol abuse is recorded… many driving under the influence are not caught. The same is also true of national surveys; many alcoholics do not self-proclaim their alcohol use. But one statistic is pretty clear: the latest National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA 2017) shows 10,874 people were killed in vehicular alcohol related deaths. Now compare that number to a mid-size populated town and that statistic is alarming.
What is the impact to our economy regarding alcohol abuse? Approximately 100 million in health care costs. That does not include 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.
Those predisposed to be addicts are not helped by the consumer marketplace. It doesn’t help when manufacturers knowingly spike our foods and drink with unnecessary food chemical stimulants for the sake of generating a profit. For example, adding more caffeine, nicotine, artificial sweeteners, etc., in concentrated doses is addictive. The only reason to do this is to cause a consumer habit beginning at a young age to crave a chemical dependency.
Let’s take a look at a relevant addiction example that places an unfair financial burden on the health care system and nonsmokers. Every year smoking kills ~440,000 people through tobacco related illnesses and disease. That’s more Americans than the Vietnam and WWII casualties combined. In total, tobacco causes more than 5 million disease related deaths per year (lung, kidney, breast, pancreas, lymph, ovaries, larynx, mouth and neck cancer, etc.). Simply consider the medical costs to treat addiction, including long term illness and disease.
For every 1 person that dies from smoking tobacco, 20 more will suffer with a long-term illness (respiratory, immune, intestinal, organ failure etc.). The tobacco industry spends approximately $34 million dollars a day in advertising (2006 data). It’s no wonder roughly 1 in 5 high school students are addicted to tobacco and other chemical stimulants.
Another way to look at this data – legal product or not, we the parents pay the $34 million a day tobacco advertising bill that gets kids hooked to continue the habit. Then pay more in health care premiums and productivity losses when they get sick.
Here’s a good question to ask our legislative policy makers within the health care industry. Why can a tobacco business deduct an advertising expense that influences youth to smoke at earlier ages, costing everyone to pay higher health insurance premiums? We the non-smoking population should receive an incentive for not smoking and not contributing to the rise in health insurance premiums – but this is not the way it works. How’s that fair? Shouldn’t these manufactures pay the cost of those insurance premium hikes as a result of related illness, disease, death and loss of national productivity.
Moving on, let’s look at another harmful consumer habit. The food industry creates more caffeine and artificial sweetened food and drink addicts than all other legal and illicit drugs combined. By first targeting youth to “seemingly” harmless “pick me” up in the morning and energy boost products throughout the day – a new generation of stimulant craving addicts is born. One only has to think of the plethora of energy drinks and processed fast foods. These drinks and foods are loaded with caffeine, sugar, salt and other hyper-palatable chemicals that make you want more.
For example a Monster Energy XXL drink contains 4 times the average content of caffeine found within a can of soda (22-46 mg of caffeine). This energy drink contains 240 mg of caffeine. The 81 grams on average sugar content in these products also contribute to weight gain and obesity. And when the metabolism slows down and weight increases to unhealthy levels – often leads to anxiety and increased blood pressure, etc. It is also noted that once a consumer stops this habit withdraw symptoms occur: depression, lethargy, nausea, headaches and vomiting. Although daily doses up to 400mg of caffeine/day for most adults is OK (University of California), it is not healthy for nursing mothers, children and teens. Another noteworthy caffeine statistic: 50% of the population, or 150 million Americans drink coffee. Also, independent coffee shops alone equate to 12 billion in annual sales.
Some would argue these unseeingly harmless consumables are gateway addictions to illegal drug use. Whereas the legal stimulants no longer provide the feel good rush… the young consumer looks for something stronger to alleviate a depressed mind, body or spirit to normalize daily living experiences.
It appears most American’s young and old have very addictive consumer habits in general with regard to tobacco, alcohol, sugar and caffeine products including prescription and illegal drug use. Behavioral therapists know any hyper-palatable and mind altering product product can lead to addictive habits capable of changing behavior. And to change an unhealthy addiction habit may require medical treatment with counselling.
Many lives are lost and families destroyed when addictive habits take complete and utter control over a persons ability to change a destructive lifestyle course.
The consumer industries, market makers and government policy wonks understand how legal consumer habits connect to illicit drug use and unhealthy behavioral habits – that increase health risks and costs taxpayers more. Unfortunately it is those addicted within the legal marketplace that have the greatest potential to cost the rest of us – and themselves their liberties, freedoms, health and potentially life
– And the number of people addicted to chemical substances is staggering beyond any statistics listed to date… And should be considered a near health epidemic that needs greater educational resources to reverse it’s course.
Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET. 2019 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Inc., www.mirrorathlete.com, Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.
Drug-Rehabs.org. Alcohol Statistics. http://www.drug-rehabs.org/alcohol-statistics.php
Hedden et al. SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). Behavioral Health Trends in the United States: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. 2015. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FRR1-2014/NSDUH-FRR1-2014.pdf
Michael’s House. Drug Addiction Facts and Statistics http://www.michaelshouse.com/drug-addiction/drug-addiction-statistics/
MyAddiction.com. Tobacco, Smoking, and Nicotine Addiction Statistics and Facts. January 14, 2012 http://www.myaddiction.com/education/articles/tobacco_statistics.html
US Drug Enforement Administration. Statistics and Facts. https://www.dea.gov/domestic-drug-data
Wilkinson, J. Monster Energy Drink Addiction. Mar 7, 2011 http://www.livestrong.com/article/398579-monster-energy-drink-addiction/