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Drug and substance abuse is an epidemic that plagues American society. The United States of America has one of the highest drug usages in the world. Drug addiction impacts millions of American people, killing thousands each year. Since the 1990s, deaths due to drug overdose have almost tripled.
In America, 21 million people suffer from at least one addiction; however, a mere 10% receive treatment. Substance abuse has severe impacts on the quality of life as well as the economy. According to research, alcohol, and drug addiction cost the American economy a whopping $600 billion every year.
The most commonly used illegal drugs in America are marijuana, opioids, and cocaine. While marijuana usage has been legalized in most states, cocaine is still illegal, and opioids are strictly regulated. The punitive drug regulations which were established in the 1970s have proven to be ineffective in controlling drug and substance abuse. The Drug Enforcement Administration’s “war on drugs” rhetoric had failed to prevent or reduce drug use.
The United States government has introduced multilayer prevention programs to address drug issues. There are three different types of programs that operate at individual and community levels. These programs are family-based prevention programs, school-based prevention programs, and community prevention programs.
Family-based prevention programs aim to prevent and reduce drug usage by enhancing family bonding. Research has shown that parental supervision is fundamental in controlling drug abuse. It also highlights the importance of family-focused interventions in reducing teen and adolescent drug abuse.
School-based programs are directed toward school children, and these programs can start as early as elementary school. Many schools have a specific curriculum to educate children about the harmful effects of drugs. Such prevention programs aim to improve students’ overall academics and teach them how to say no to drugs.
Community-based prevention programs work in conjunction with civic, law, and other government bodies to raise awareness of drug abuse. There are numerous youth programs across the nation that work with high-risk families and children. These programs have proven to be immensely effective in reducing drug use and enhancing anti-drug norms.
While the ongoing work of drug prevention programs is commendable, the overall trend is that drug use is on the rise. The widespread availability of drugs has made it impossible to control the distribution and consumption of illicit drugs. Practices like improving access to Naloxone (an opioid reversal medication) can help reduce death due to drug overdose. The government and other organizations have to actively work with local communities to bring drugs and substances under control in America.
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