How Staten Island Is Fighting a Raging Drug Epidemic — Where does marijuana figure?

Marijuana-pathway-to-opiates….This article in the New Yorker, Sept 8, 2014, paints a poignant picture of the opiate crisis in one geography — Statan Island. It tells the pharmaceutical history of the chemical sources of the epidemic — and how Pharma companies engage in “tobacco-like” litigation to protect their sales. And how parents and churches take the lead in caring for addicts and work to prevent more addiction.

One topic missing this in this article is marijuana. Radio silence, again. Youth alcohol use is mentioned, pills, opiates, heroin.

Yet, in Massachusetts, each time we’ve spoken with groups of Learn to Cope parents of addicts in support groups, on average 28 of 30 say teen marijuana use preceded opiate addiction in their loved one.

Illicit drug use rose by over 60% between 1992 and 2013. (From 5.8% to 9.4% of the population.) Marijuana use among young people is at a 30-year high. And we know adolescent exposures nearly double the chances for addiction.

Hopefully we can bring those trend lines of escalating drug use back down over the next 20 years. Opening up the markets to currently illicit drugs does not appear to be an effective answer. Even the discussions of this radical notion has emboldened pot profiteers and driven use up — both “legal” and illicit.

We need a smarter approach.