Are Americans Really Saying No To Drugs?

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In the recent years, the United States has struggled greatly over illicit drug use. In 2013, an estimated 24.6 million Americans aged 12 or older—9.4 percent of the population—had used an illegal drug in the past month. This number is up from 8.3 percent in 2002 [i].

In comparison with European nations, the U.S. ranks among the top five in almost every measure of drug abuse. It is near the top of the list when it comes to cannabis use. According to the United Nations (U.N.) Office on Drugs and Crime, America ranks second; however, the high outcome reported for Iceland is still debatable. The U.S. is tied for first place with Spain when it comes to the use of cocaine. America’s rate of adult opioid use on the other hand, is far ahead of any European country. Moreover, the U.S. has a much greater rate of use of amphetamine-type stimulants – a category including methamphetamine and ecstasy – than any European nation as well [ii].

Surveys conclude that the majority of people use drugs for the first time when they are teenagers. In 2013 alone, there were just over 2.8 million new users of illicit drugs, which estimates to about 7,800 new users per day. Over half (54.1 percent) of which were reported to be under 18 years of age [iii]. In a report by CNN in 2011, the use of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drugs in college students was highlighted. Researchers found that up to 30 percent of students had illegally used ADHD drugs including Adderall and Ritalin.

“I’m more driven. I don’t focus on anything else,” said the Auburn University student. “It’s easy ― not sketchy or perceived in a bad way,” he added. This, surprisingly, is a common occurrence in colleges all across America. Students claim that they see Adderall as slightly more dangerous than the soft drink Mountain Dew. Adderall, in fact, is an amphetamine and can be habit forming [iv].

Illegal drugs and increased drug use among teenagers continues to threaten the safety, health and future of the children in the United States. For a college student in the U.S., taking drugs to concentrate and perform better is a norm. This shows greatly how much work load and pressure they are under to resort to illegal means. It is also to be noted, that most teenagers and young adults use illicit drugs purely for leisure purposes. The drug culture in the States is at a rise. “Partying,” a term commonly used, refers to getting high. This is also adding greatly to increased crimes and more arrests. Drug overdose deaths are also not uncommon.

Furthermore, the cost of these drugs is expensive, especially for a student on a budget. This leads to them resorting to even more unlawful ways of getting money to obtain drugs. Rehabs cost even more. So once an individual does realize that he/she may need help, unfortunately, not always can he/she afford to acquire it. Where many in the country advocate to legalizing certain drugs, one thing is for sure: by the rate the U.S. is going, the future generation’s health is of great concern.


[i] National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

[ii] How does drug use differ from the US to Europe? [Internet]. 2016. Available from:

[iii] Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

[iv] College students take ADHD drugs for better grades - [Internet]. CNN. 2016. Available from: