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About 21.8 million Americans, or 8.7 percent of the population age 12 and older, reported using illegal drugs in 2009. That’s the highest level since the survey began in 2002. The previous high was just over 20 million in 2006.

Designer Drugs from the 1990s to the 2000s

Designer drugs are simply variations on drugs that already exist in most cases. The dangers of designer drugs come from the illegal combination and administration of the drugs that have not be properly researched or studied for toxicology or pharmacological research. These drugs are specifically designed to avoid and fall outside of the laws of the DEA in the United States. These drugs have similar effects to the originals, although they do have a different chemical makeup. The variation of the chemical structure allows the drug to be temporarily used and created without the fear or expectation of criminal charges since it does not fall under any current regulations.

The Internet: Major Influence on Drug Abuse in the 2000s

Due to the rapid growth of the Internet, designer drug sales grew rapidly in the 90s and 2000s. These drugs were sometimes referred to as “research drugs” or “research chemicals” to avoid the U.S. drug laws, but this did not prevent the DEA from making arrests.

Anabolic steroids also became popular during this time. These drugs were used by many athletes, but they were unable to be monitored due to the lack of information about the drugs and the inability of drug tests to identify the new anabolic agents. A designer drug called tetrahydrogesterinone (THG) was created to avoid new anabolic steroid tests, and it was, at the time, undetectable.

2005 to Present

Due to the Internet and other methods of communication, the 2000s have seen the growth of designer drugs outside of opioids, hallucinogens, and steroids. Some “legal” alternatives to cannabis have been created from sister plants and those of similar construction. It is important to note that none of these research chemicals have been properly tested for their safety.

The Usual Suspects

Treatment data for 2011 from criminal justice reports like the Department of Justice’s Drug Market Analyses, illustrates the face of current drug use and popularity. Below is a list of America’s top five drugs of choice. The big news is that while they may be the usual suspects, they are not at all in the order you might expect.

1.  Weed

There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the fact that marijuana is the number one street drug right now. Treatment admissions for marijuana abuse, especially to outpatient programs, are through the roof.

2. Crystal Meth

Crystal methamphetamine addicts constituted 45,457 cases of addiction treatment in the state of California in 2010—more than the state’s combined number of alcoholics and heroin admissions.

In the 2000’s,the meth epidemic hit hardest in the midwest United States. Meth gained popularity in the Midwest because it is cheap, easy to manufacture at home, and requires no special equipment or expertise. In 2004 alone, nearly 16,000 methamphetamine labs were seized by law enforcement officials across America. Most of these labs were located in the Midwest.

3. Alcohol

Alcohol will not be denied, ranking a strong second in large urban centers both in terms of treatment admissions and, more important, in percentage of drug-related deaths.

4. Pills – painkillers (such as Oxys and Hydrocodone) and benzos (such as Xanax)

Pill abuse has swept the entire nation, as the incidence of treatment for prescription drug addiction has skyrocketed, doubling, tripling and more over the past 20 years. The ongoing rise in social costs associated with pharmaceutical narcotics puts pills ahead of the remaining street drugs of abuse.

One of the most infamous prescription opiates on the market in the last decade is the powerful narcotic OxyContin. In 1995, the Federal Drug Administration approved the manufacture of OxyContin, a time-release version of oxycodone. When the drug was released, concerns and reports of illicit use and abuse began to increase exponentially. Before the release of OxyContin, all formulations of oxycodone contained an NSAID, which limited its potential for abuse. The NSAID component of the drugs also restricted the routes of administration to oral ingestion. When OxyContin was released, abusers realized that they could crush the pill to release pure oxycodone (up to 80mg in one pill), which allowed larger doses and by additional routes of administrations such as intravenous and intranasal. Due to the widespread abuse, especially in rural areas, OxyContin came to be known as “Hillbilly Heroin,” and reports of its abuse flooded the media in the 2000’s.

Newsof rising overdose rates, “pill mills” prescribing opioid painkillers in return for cash, and a flourishing market for prescription painkillers both online and on the streets prompted lawmakers to crack down. Unfortunately, this means that many addicts simply turned to heroin to fuel their habit.

5. Heroin and Cocaine

These two drugs remain a presence in the nation’s inner cities, especially on the East Coast—for example, ranking third and fourth respectively in total treatment admissions in Philadelphia only behind marijuana and alcohol. And both are still very risky ways to get high, ranking first and third in drug-related deaths.

Not only that, but the last decade has seen a surge of heroin use in suburban areas. Most experts attribute this to the prescription pill epidemic. As officials have cracked down, many addicts have turned to heroin as it is not only cheaper, but much easier to get.

The number of teens dying of heroin overdose skyrocketed in the 2000’s. In 1999, 198 people between the ages of 15 and 24 died of a heroin overdose, compared to 510 deaths in 2009. The number of teens seeking treatment for heroin addiction rose 80 percent in the same 10 year time frame.

If your loved one is in need of heroin addiction treatment please give us a call at 800-951-6135.




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