Pulse Check: Mid-Year 2000 (Posted 04-11-01)
A News Analysis By Terence T. Gorski
The following is a mid-Year progress report on the effectiveness of the War On Drugs. The report was developed by Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). The information in this reports speaks for itself as to the effectiveness of our War On Drugs Policy and the need to look to a Public Health Addiction Policy as a more effective strategy for dealing with our national epidemic of drug addiction.
Between mid-year 1999 and mid-year 2000 the illicit drug problem within the United States remained stable and unchanged with two exceptions: an emerging and growing club drug scene, and an increase in heroin availability and purity levels in some cities.
The drugs perceived as creating the most serious problems are: (1) crack cocaine, (2) powder cocaine, and (3) heroine.
The new drug problems that have emerged or significantly intensified involve: (Club Drugs, Methamphetamine, and Prescription Drugs (Mostly OxyContin and Viagra in combination with methamphetamine).
How has the illicit drug problem changed between 1999 and 2000. Here are the perceptions of the respondents in 74 national locations who were surveyed for this pulse check:
Perceive The Drug Problem As ...
- Getting Better ----------------------- 3%
- Unchanged ------------------------ 45%
- Somewhat Worse --------------- 36%
- Much Worse ----------------------- 16%
Here is a drug-by-drug summary of the state of illicit drug problems:
1. Heroine: There is an increase in heroine supply, purity, aggressive marketing strategies, and indoor selling. there is an increase in the numbers of younger people starting to use heroin, usually by snorting. There is a continuing shift in heroin use from the inner cities to the suburbs. There are growing indicators that young people who began snorting heroin more than a year ago are now beginning to shift to injecting as their primary route of administration.
2. Crack & Powder Cocaine: The availability and use of cocaine is stable and unchanged in most cities. Some young people are beginning to abuse powder cocaine usually as a club drug. Treatment centers are reporting an increase in novice crack users entering treatment. Law enforcement officials report that crack and powder cocaine sellers are usually addicted and use their own drug and are often involved in violence associated with the drug trade.
3. Marijuana: The availability and use of marijuana use is stable and unchanged in most cities. Purity has increased in most cities due do improved cultivation techniques. This means drugs abusers are ingesting more of the drug even though they are ingesting the same amount. Marijuana users are equally spread across the socio economic, racial, and ethnic spectrum with one exception. The number of adolescents marijuana users is growing and beginning to out number young adult users in most cities. The majority of marijuana dealers are adolescents and young adults. marijuana sellers are usual heavy users selling to support their own use and are seldom involved in violence.
4. Methamphetamine: The availability and use of Methamphetamine has increased in the Western united States with mixed findings of increase in Midwest and Eastern pars of the country. This increase has occurred in spite of a significant increase in lab seizures due to increased targeted law enforcement efforts. Previously a rural phenomena, the methamphetamine is spreading to suburban and some urban areas. There is growing methamphetamine use by women, adolescents, and within the Gay Community.
5. Club Drugs: The availability and use of Club Drugs, especially Ecstasy, has increased dramatically across the country. The availability and use of Ketamine is increasing most cities and the use of GHP and Rohypnol are increasing in some locations in the South and West. Club drug users tend to be young, white, middle class, polydrug abusing males and females. They use and sell the drug in combination with other drugs including hallucinogens, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine, and prescription drugs. Club activity is primarily a suburban phenomena, although it is beginning to move into the urban areas. Club drug sales and use is expanding into the Hispanic and black community and expanding exclusively nightclubs and raves to high schools. As the supply and use of ecstasy increases, the use of adulterants, especially amphetamines, is also increasing.
6. Prescription Drugs: OxyContin is a long-acting form of the opiate oxycodone which is usually prescribed for people in severe pain. There is evidence of increasing abuse of the drug as evidenced by an increase in overdoses and prescription altering schemes. This appears to be a mostly rural phenomena. Viagra is being used with methamphetamine as a sexual stimulant in the gay community and as a club drug in a growing number of cities.