Vice Squad
Friday, September 10, 2004
Substitution Effects Anyone?

How the Department of Health and Human Services is able to put a positive spin on their latest drug use survey is beyond me, yet they've done it.

Here's their big victory: A 5 percent decline in lifetime use of marijuana among American youth between the ages of 12 and 17.

What is buried at the end of the press release is that young adults (age 18-25) experienced a 15 percent increase in non-medical lifetime use of prescription drugs. So the government has succeeded in getting a few young people to quit using a mild, non-addictive psychoactive substance, and encouraged larger numbers to switch to much harsher, highly addictive substances including OxyContin, Vicodin, Lorcet, and Percocet. Further, inhalant use has increased for kids aged 16 and 17, while use of other drugs like LSD, heroin, and cocaine remained stable for the population as a whole.

Another statistic of note: about 77 percent of all Americans classified as being dependent on or abusing drugs and alcohol are employed. The report finds this fact horrifying. Rather than question some of their definitions of dependence and abuse, the HHS recommends more random drug testing in the work place, and more employer-sponsored treatment programs. No statistics are available for whether or not workers' "dependence" on a particular substance affects absenteeism.

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