Demand for Drug Rehab on the Rise
Very few human beings can use illicit drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine or opioids, for a prolonged period of time without becoming addicted to the substance. Once addiction occurs, the individual typically needs to enter drug rehab in order to safely withdraw from using the drug. Unless the patient is independently wealthy or is covered by a comprehensive health insurance policy, there never seems to be enough slots in affordable and effective residential drug rehab programs to keep up with the demand. Sadly, as the number of Americans addicted to illicit drugs continues to rise, the need for affordable drug rehab rises as well.
A recent study by the US federal government shows that the use of illegal drugs is increasing, especially among teens and young adults. In a recent year, it was estimated that almost ten percent of residents over the age of twelve (or about twenty million people) were active users of illicit drugs. This number was a full two-tenths of a percent higher than the previous year. The largest number of illicit drug users were between the ages of 18 and 25 (“young adults”). The increase in marijuana usage is particularly worrying, with a full two percent increase in abuse among young adults.
Unfortunately, teens seem to be using illegal drugs more than other age groups. For those under the age of 18, the percentage of users has risen to ten percent, with pot being the drug of choice for more than half of the adolescent users. This is especially troubling given that, up until recently, the use of marijuana among young people had been on the decline. Now, those in 8th through 12th grades are using pot more frequently than before. Study participants report that the increase in usage has been accompanied by a reduction in the perception of the dangers of marijuana experimentation or prolonged usage.
While knowing the rate of continued illicit usage can be helpful when evaluating the scope of the US drug problem, the number of new users during a particular period can also provide valuable insight to researchers and public health professionals. In 2009, there were more new users of pot (two and one-half million) than any other psychotropic substance; second place went to pain killers. Of the new pot users, a significant number were teens. Further, the age at which teens start abusing substances has continued to decrease. For instance, in 2008, the average age of a new marijuana user was 18; the next year, the average age had dropped to 17.
The rising need for effective drug rehab for young people is quickly becoming a public health issue, as adolescents and young adults require specialized addiction treatment that is not necessarily available in drug rehabs that primarily serve adult populations. Teens require enhanced supervision, unique counseling and education or occupational guidance. Teens that cannot be placed in specialized drug rehab programs often receive inferior treatment that can delay or prevent effective recovery from drug addiction.