Drugs – What is the cost to society? Part 2

Drugs – What is the cost to society? Part 2

drug use in schoolBy Jessica Westfall

Last week Johann Hari’s views on drug legalization and human connections were explored, let’s look at an opposing side.

Addiction psychiatrist from Arizona, Dr. Ed Gogek, has written a book titled, Marijuana Debunked. While Gogek focuses on marijuana he asserts this is the start to decriminalization of all drugs and wants to stop the avalanche now. Dr. Gogek is also concerned about where the decriminalization of marijuana (and all drugs) leads, especially in the realm of teen use. Dr. Gogek makes the case that alcohol is currently the most harmful to teens because it is legal and widely used, and therefore more available. He explains that research shows that the more legal the drug the easier it is to get.

Marijuana use has already been linked to college students skipping classes, studying less, lower grades, dropping out, and unemployment after college. Teen users turn into adults that earn less, are more likely to use unemployment or welfare, and are less happy with lives and relationships. Dr. Gogek is alarmed by the harm that legalizing marijuana, making it more available, is having on teens already.

Drugabuse.gov backs Dr. Gogeks findings about the increase, and harms, of marijuana use. Marijuana has the second highest rate of dependence (after alcohol) in America. In 2013, 2.4 million people in the United States met the clinical criteria for dependence, nearly twice that of pain killers and almost 5 times that for the abuse of cocaine. Half of the 7,800 new drug users per day, in 2013, were under the age of 18. More than half of these new users are beginning with marihuana. That data can be viewed here:(http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/nationwide-trends)

Colorado has legalized marijuana and gives us the first glimpse to what legalization brings. A recent study has shown increases in “marijuana-related traffic deaths, hospital visits and school suspensions.” One issue parents are concerned with is the way marijuana is freely advertised, the higher rate of use is believed to be linked to commercialism. Teen and child use of marijuana in Colorado has been labeled an epidemic as emergency room visits increased by 29% and hospitalizations rose 38% during the first year of marijuana’s legal sale.

That article can be found here: http://denver.cbslocal.com/2015/09/20/smart-colorado-hearing-from-hundreds-hundreds-of-parents-about-pot-use/

Dr. Gogek commented on Johann Hari’s TED talk. He called Hari’s remarks “inhumane”. He sees Johann Hari as pushing pro-legalization, as ignoring the science of addiction, promoting denial and downplaying the importance of addiction treatment. Dr. Gogek reminds that the 12-step program is the most effective cure, that there are biological and genetic factors that increase likelihood of addiction, and that people with addictions do need to seek help to be cured. Dr. Gogek does agree that a connected life will help in preventing drug use, but once addiction has formed real treatment is needed.

Dr. Gogek sites Sweden’s example for his solution. Sweden has some of the strictest marijuana laws in the world, with a zero tolerance policy. Sweden focuses on probation and treatment for drug users. Their laws are focused on prevention. In Sweden, 5% of teens under sixteen use marijuana compared to the 22% in the US. The US has mass incarceration, Sweden has closed 4 prisons in the past 10 years. Dr. Gogek surmises that tough drug laws prevent teen use, and as a added bonus, crime.

To read the entire article go here (http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/marijuana-debunked-the-case-against-legalization).

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