Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Meth Myth II

According to the DEA, meth seizures peaked in 1989 with 174 million “doses” seized. In 2002 118 million “doses” were seized.

University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future Survey found, in questioning high school teens about drug use, peak amphetamine use in 1981 at 26%. Methamphetamine use was less than 3% in 2005.

As has happened repeatedly throughout the past, people have become obsessed with a single drug to the point of near hysteria, meth this time around. Hazards have been exaggerated. This focusing on one drug as the main cause of increasing societal problems rather than accepting it as one of many causes is problematic. This inappropriate narrowing of focus (and funding) allows for inattention to the other societal problems, and forces cuts elsewhere. More general programs to address drug use and abuse get trimmed or damaged. Funding has been taken from education and healthcare, the inappropriately reshuffling of funding will compound negative social effects. Ultimately those effects are reflected in the Coroner’s business.

Anti-drug programs must be more general, addressing the root causes for use and/or abuse as well as heading off the use and abuse. Meth use is a problem, but only one among many. The use and abuse of cocaine and hallucinogens are bigger problems, and the non-prescriptive use of prescription painkillers is bigger still. Keeping kids in school, life-skills training to resist use and abuse, supporting families as the “anti-drug” (rather cliché, but true), and providing access to mental health caring and substance abuse early in its course are all things that can have real impact in decreasing drug use and abuse. They must be funded and supported.

Targeting and vilifying a single drug will lose more people than it will help. Drug use and abuse is a real problem that deserves more than a bandaid and more than a drug-of-the-month approach.

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