Drug trends

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Introduction

Drug usage has been increasing in the United States with an estimated 24.6 million Americans aged above 12 years or older having used some form of illicit drugs. The use of other drugs other than marijuana has stabilized over the decades or in some cases, it has declined. For example, in 2013, 6.5 million Americans above 12 years reported having used prescription drugs for other purposes than medical. Two key demographics represent a shift in the usage of drugs. For example, drug use is highest among individuals in their late teens and twenties, and this also represents the first time that drug users are introduced to it; and it is also increasing among people in their fifties who drug use has historically been higher than for those of other generations.

This particular problem is growing in Smithtown, New York with an estimated population of almost 38,000 people of which 3,236 are said to use illicit drugs. The five most abused forms of illegal drugs in the town include alcohol, marijuana, heroin, cocaine and the use of stimulants. What is disturbing is the growth of heroin abuse in the city with an increasing number of individuals admitted to hospital because of the drugs and the related drugs. The following paper looks at the health issue that threatens the fabric of society.

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Drugs used and by whom

On the surface, New York is America’s most citing city with more than 18 million people calling this metropolitan area home. However, below this surface, an intricate web of drug traffic, usage and addictions bedevil the city. A city of 18 million people makes it a significant market for drugs that is too hard to pass up. Therefore, there is a convergence of different drugs and drug traffickers seeking to profit from this market. The area sees immense trafficking in heroin, marijuana and cocaine among others. The scourge of drug trafficking has particularly decimated upstate town such as Smithtown in long Island. However, there is a need to create a full profile of the drugs used particularly in Smithtown and the users of such drugs. This is as follows:

Heroin

Heroin is gaining notoriety as the drug of choice for the young population with more of the areas young individuals getting involved with the drug. It is gaining notoriety because of the ease at which it is distributed from the city. Due to the city’s complex infrastructure, the drug easily finds itself from one area to the next, and it is mostly distributed at parties that are frequented by teenagers and those in their twenties (Lyman, 2013). It has become easier to acquire the drug with Mexican and Colombian drug cartels flooding the New York State. The scourge of heroin is decimating this key demographic with the residents of the town coming to understand that it is not an urban problem anymore. The number of people dying from heroin overdose is also increasing with an estimated 500 people dying from annually (Hedegaard, Chen, & Warner, 2015). The unfortunate scenario is that more and more teenagers are being lost to such heroin overdoses. It mostly affects the ages of 12 years because that is the age that most addicts start using the drug. However, the drug is still widely consumed by people from other demographics. Heroin has 70 annual cases of Hospital E.R drug related admission.

Cocaine is the second drug of choice amongst Smithtown residents with 31 annual cases of E.R admissions. The National Forensic Laboratory Information System reports that cocaine ranks second as the drug of choice behind marijuana and it was detected in 33 percent of drug reports. However, the drug has been in decline in its use among male arrestee. Cocaine hit its lowest level in two decades, but problems were reported in clients with prior cocaine use in primary, secondary or tertiary issues (Lyman, 2013). It has the second highest dependency rate after marijuana. It also has twice the number of dependence on prescription painkillers. The availability of cocaine in Smithtown is seen in that it can be turned into crack cocaine and it has inflicted a heavy toll on the young adults with children as young as 12 years being victims.

Marijuana

Marijuana indicators are at a high level in the New York and its upstate boroughs. Its use is increasing in Long Island and the United States because it is becoming easy to acquire. It represents a quarter of all primary treatments and admissions with more than half of drug abuse arrestees testing positive for the drug. Marijuana use is the only drug together with heroin that shows incremental use while other drugs remain stable or indicate a decrease in usage (West & Brown, 2013). All the demographic groups use marijuana above 12 years even the baby boomer generation uses the drug. However, the drug is also used for medicinal purposes with legalization for such a purpose in various states.

Communities, government, and schools addressing Drug Abuse and Addiction

The State, local authorities, communities, and schools have implemented different strategies that are aimed at reducing the issue. Some plans are geared towards addressing the causality of the problems while some of the strategies are designed to address the effects, which are seen from drug overdoses. Such efforts include:

Early childhood intervention strategies have been implemented in communities because they can alter the life course of a person in a positive direction. This is because the behaviors that manifest in adolescence have their roots in the developmental phases that occur early. Developmental changes manifest themselves in drug abuses, and the early prevention strategies are effective at the first stage of a person’s life (Farrington, Ohlin, & Wilson, 2012). The intervention strategies involve the reduction of risk factors in an environment that places children at an enhanced risk of behavioral problems such as drug abuse. Early intervention can also increase protective factors through increasing coping and adaptation skills, which leads to a reduction of risks. Therefore, communities strive to reduce environmental factors that promote drug use and increase protective factors.

Secondly, the government has policies that provide for the reduction of overdoses through the provision of Naloxone. Naloxone is now available as a nasal spray that immediately blocks any dangerous respiratory blockage caused by heroin and other prescription drugs such as OxyContin and Vicodin (Stolberg, 2016). The drug has been made readily available to emergency responders, families and those who are dependent on the drug. This is a secondary effort by the government and healthcare providers meant to reduce drug-related overdoses.

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Third, efforts by health department’s community mental hygiene services coordinating efforts with the educational services in establishing a recovery school in Long Island which goes beyond bring treatment to the schools on first hand. A recovery school would communicate the values of not engaging in drugs on a daily basis (West & Brown, 2013). Such a school would have a drug treatment program that offers recovery to those who are most vulnerable to the disease on an ongoing basis. Furthermore, such an effort should be complemented with educational initiatives that are delivered directly to the school and the community settings on the need to avoid drugs. It is argued that primary prevention is an effective prevention strategy.

Fourth, Education is an effective strategy to any effort to the curb of drug usage, and it must target every demographic in society. The education efforts can be implemented within communities and schools to increase addiction awareness, prevention, and treatment in care practice (Keeton, Soleimanpour, & Brindis, 2012). Such an effort should be made through television, radio and social media to educate families on drug prevention strategies. Such efforts are shown to reduce the non-medical usage of drugs. Moreover, the Department of Education’s Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Program allocates money to schools to aid drug prevention programs and in the maintenance of safe learning environments. The program requires all schools to have adequately trained drug prevention coordinators. The supervisors are identifies drug prevention programs and strategies, and they are responsible for implementing successful drug prevention strategies. The coordinators also ensure coordination between parents, the school, and communities in combating the scourge. Such a program has identified the vulnerable position that school going children are to drugs and make an effort to providing solutions (Keeton, Soleimanpour, & Brindis, 2012).

Effects of addiction on individuals and families

Substance addition has a severe impact not only on an individual, but it also has an impact on those around and the society as a whole. It is estimated that on average five people will be affected when one individual becomes an addict. There is also the wider implication to the society, and it can negatively affect the lives of everyone in society. Addiction, therefore, is a concern not only to an individual but also to the society.

The most noticeable impact of dependency occurs to a person that is directly caught up in the abuse that leads to a dependence that negatively affects an individual. For example, an individual becomes dependent on the drugs neglecting other parts of their life. Aspects that were previously important to a person lose meaning no longer matters because the only thing that is of importance is maintaining and sustaining the addiction (Van Wormer & Davis, 2016). Thus, it leads to wasted lives. Secondly, addiction has a negative impact on an individual’s physical and mental health. Majorities of addicts feel ill regularly, and the addiction to the drugs will lead to body organ damage and if the abuse continues, the individual can develop severe body conditions such as wet brain syndrome (Van Wormer & Davis, 2016). Thirdly, it also has a destructive impact on the mental health of a person because many of the addicts end up feeling depressed or other forms of mental illness. Furthermore, it can lead to psychosis, which occurs when the person loses touch with reality, and it can lead to these individuals committing suicide.

Addiction has a greater impact on society. For example, drug addiction will result in the deterioration of a person’s physical and mental health, which may result in the individual losing their job and depending on their family. This can lead to the society providing the needed sustenance. It is estimated that the government spends 67 billion dollars annually on supporting individuals suffering from addiction (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2012). The 67 billion dollars is money that could have been used on other social programs instead of battling addictions. Secondly, drug addiction is closely related to criminal activity, and majorities of incarcerated prisoners are because of the war on drugs (West & Brown, 2013). Therefore, it influences society negatively when it has created a criminal industry in society. Thirdly, due to drug addiction perpetuating a criminal world, addicts steal and engage in criminal activity to obtain the funds that will sustain their addiction. Thus, crime is always high in areas with high addiction rates. Finally, individuals becoming addicted to drugs waste their lives because they could have become productive members of society. The waste of potential is a loss to society.

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Conclusion

Smithtown, Long Island has endured one of the harshest illicit drug barrages in New York. New York City is a drug haven with cartels targeting it because of its big market and because of Smithtown proximity to the city; the drugs have found their way to the town of 37,000. Drugs had an adverse impact on Smithtown’s population with those above the ages of 12 years bearing the biggest brunt. The town has seen an increase in the use of heroin among its teenage people and the baby boomer generation; marijuana also saw an increase in usage to the entire demographic group above 12 years; cocaine ends the list of three of the top drugs of choice in the Suffolk County town. The community, schools and the government have implemented through creating a national awareness campaign, creating recovery schools, provision of Naloxone – to combat overdoses and funding strategies to combat drug abuse in schools to protect the most vulnerable population. Finally, this research has looked at the effects of addiction on an individual and the society. For example, it leads physical and mental health issues, wastage of life and drug addiction becomes a negative element to the body. To the society, it leads to an increase in criminal activity, incarcerations, becomes a drain on the economy and destroying communities.

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  1. Farrington, D. P., Ohlin, L. E., & Wilson, J. Q. (2012). Understanding and controlling crime: Toward a new research strategy. Berlin: Springer Science & Business Media.
  2. Hedegaard, H., Chen, L. H., & Warner, M. (2015). Drug-poisoning deaths involving heroin: United States, 2000-2013. Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  3. Keeton, V., Soleimanpour, S., & Brindis, C. D. (2012). School-based health centers in an era of health care reform: Building on history. Current problems in pediatric and adolescent health care, 42(6), 132-156.
  4. Lyman, M. D. (2013). Drugs in society: Causes, concepts, and control. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide. Washington, DC: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
  6. Stolberg, V. B. (2016). Painkillers: History, Science, and Issues. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.
  7. Van Wormer, K., & Davis, D. R. (2016). Addiction treatment. Boston: Cengage Learning.
  8. West, R., & Brown, J. (2013). Theory of addiction. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
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