After working in the substance abuse field for over two decades, I was fortunate to keep a log of people being treated for illicit and prescribed drug abuse. The prevalence of drug-related infectious diseases, high risk use, number of drug related deaths, drug related crime; in the form of drug bust, various related crimes, price, purity and the use in prison. I think it so important that we understand the drug situation in New York and elsewhere.
I was able to somewhat determine why psychoactive substances were being used. Most of the interviewees I talked to were between the ages of 18 and 80 poly-drug users and admitted or interviewed for admission at a program or clinic. Discussed was recent frequency and intensity of the use of heroin, alcohol, cannabis, amphetamines, ecstasy, LSD, cocaine, prescribed opiates (prescribed and illicit), benzodiazepine’s (prescribed and illicit), Buprenorphine (prescribed and Illicit) and Methadone (prescribed and Illicit). A majority of people interviewed had used at least one of these drugs as a drug of choice. Many of the people interview were using these drugs , to relax , for pain, to become intoxicated , keep awake at night while socializing , enhance an activity, alleviate depressed mood and recreationally. Substance use was different by age and gender. Many interviewed were using one substance that gave them the same high feeling, and many interviewed used poly drugs to fulfil similar feelings of an added effect.
The use of illicit drugs use in New York was known by all that were interviewed, and they clearly were cognizant of the consequences of being arrested with illicit drugs or prescribed medication ( without authorization). There are many Crime Survey’s kept by several New York Agencies that will show the number of people between the ages of 18 and 80 years that have used an illicit drug on at least one occasion in their lives.
Although I’ve only worked with the 18–80 year olds the most prevalent drug I found used is cannabis used by a high percentage of those interviewed. But used in conjuction with other drugs.
This report is reported by SAMHSA (NSDUH)
- An estimated 24.6 million individuals aged 12 or older were current illicit drug users in 2013, including 2.2 million adolescents aged 12 to 17. In 2013, 60.1 million individuals aged 12 or older were past month binge drinkers, including 1.6 million adolescents.
- Of the estimated 22.7 million individuals aged 12 or older in 2013 who needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem, 2.5 million received treatment at a specialty facility.
- In 2013, about 1 in 10 adolescents (10.7 percent) had a major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year. Among adolescents with MDE, 38.1 percent received treatment or counseling for depression in the past year.
- In 2013, nearly 1 in 5 adults aged 18 or older (18.5 percent) had a mental illness (i.e., “any mental illness,” or AMI) in the past year; 4.2 percent had a serious mental illness (SMI); and 3.9 percent had serious thoughts of suicide in the past year.
- In 2013, 1.4 percent of adolescents had co-occurring MDE and substance use disorder (SUD); 3.2 percent of adults had co-occurring AMI and SUD; and 1.0 percent of adults had co-occurring SMI and SUD.
- (SAMHSA NSDUH) visit for more stats
I found that the use of these illicit drugs presented problems in health, education, mental health, and employment. Many of the drug users used several different psychoactive substances (poly-drugs) I found many poly-drug users also indicated the use of two or more psychoactive substances at once, so that the drug effects are experienced together and/or to improve the effects of another drug or to help manage its negative effects. Many of the people interviewed also included alcohol as one of the poly substances used.
The different effects that different drugs have on the user, is a reason many of those interviewed gave for using multiple drugs. We know stimulant drugs such as amphetamines, ecstasy and cocaine are used to increased nervous system arousal and drugs with sedative effects like alcohol or cannabis, with nervous system depression.
Many drugs are used to improve concentration, relieve tiredness, lose weight, treat pain, and treat depression/Anxiety.