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Reviewing commonly abused substances

September 18, 2011
By CATHY BROWNFIELD - Staff Writer , Salem News

This seems like a good time to talk about the most commonly abused substances. Every adult over age 18 very likely knows someone who is recovering from addiction, according to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) which is sparking public awareness during its annual, month-long National Recovery Month.

Parents like to think they've taught their children about the dangers of substance use and abuse, and they do their best to be there for their children. However, sometimes things happen. "Everyone does it." Or, "It's not going to hurt me," children say. Kids do sometimes experiment.

The most commonly abused substances are alcohol, inhalants, and tobacco products, illicit drugs and prescription drugs. The 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health has been released. Some 67,500 people age 12 and older were interviewed. From the interviews, in 2010, 22.6 million Americans age 12 and older had used illicit drugs in the past month. Illicit drugs are cocaine (including crack), Ecstasy, heroin, hallucinogens, marijuana and methamphetamine.

Marijuana was the most commonly used. A lot of people believe marijuana is harmless. But according to the Harvard Medical School, a report in the school's Mental Health Letter, "Regular use of marijuana can lead to addiction and other mental health problems, especially in people who are genetically vulnerable," said Dr. Michael Miller, editor-in-chief.

The article explains the increased potency of THC may develop into addiction much quicker. "At low doses, THC can be sedating. At higher does, it can induce intense anxietythe most commonly reported side effects are intense anxiety and panic attacks." Regular use may cause depression. In people with mood disorders like bipolar disease, marijuana "can bring on manic episodes and increase rapid cycling between manic and depressive moods." People with psychotic disorders who use marijuana can increase the risk of developing psychosis, particularly in young people.

So much for marijuana being harmless, particularly in young, still-growing brains. Some illicit drugs were used less, like Ecstasy, prescription drugs, cocaine, and methamphetamines. Keep talking, Mom and Dad. The scary thing is that 10.6 million persons reportedly were driving under the influence of illicit drugs. All of those drivers were using the same streets and highways as everyone else, including you and me.

An estimated 131.3 million people reported last year that they drank alcohol. Nearly one-quarter of persons age 12 and older participated in binge drinking, about 58.6 million Americans, reflecting less drinking in 2010 than in 2009. The rate of drinking under the influence was highest in the 21-25-year-old age group.

You can check out the report at samhsa.gov/newsroom.

Recovery Month emphasizes that everyone has the "fundamental and inherent value to be accepted and treated with respect, dignity and worth." SAMHSA's goals are to increase public awareness of substance abuse and mental disorders, health reform, and recovery support. The ultimate goal is to improve the overall health and well-being of Americans.

"Statistics from the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health show that education about the dangers of substance use and mental disorders, along with prevention, treatment and recovery education, is critical to decrease the growing rates of substance use," SAMHSA advises. "Everyone benefits from recovery."

Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs. For more information contact us at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded by the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services (ODADAS).

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