There is often a noticeable dichotomy between public perception and reality, and this ethos is particularly relevant to drug use and drug users. The general understanding of drug use is that it is currently more widespread than ever, and that it is particularly prevalent amongst teenagers and young adults. This theory is developed due to over exposure to sensational media reports and generic journalism, where indistinct statements contrive an unconsidered presentation of actual events.
In fact, the level of drug use between the 18 to 25 year old demographic has fallen between 2000 and 2008, with a total decrease of 0.5 percent. This may seem insignificant, but not when you consider the sum of the US population and also the fact the percentage drop for the same period of citizens who have ever used drugs was registered at 2.4 percent. This secondary statistic is far more indicative of a continual and gradual decline in the number of drug users since the turn of the century.
A Public Perception
So, where does the perception of a worsening drug culture emerge from? Surprisingly, the only increase in the number of drug users is actually in the 26 to 34 year age demographic, where the level of current users has risen from 10.5 to 11 percent between 2000 and 2008. Although this statistic, when considered on its individual merits, may suggest an increase in adult drug use, it not supported by other figures that feature in the same target age range.
In fact, the level of all time users has with regards to this demographic has fallen in the same period from 58.3 to 56.6 percent. When compared, these statistics actually suggest that drug use has fallen considerably since the turn of the century, and that the slight increase in current drug users is actually an anomaly rather than the beginning of a worrying trend. These statistics can only give a true depiction of the reality when they are analyzed simultaneously, and conclusions are drawn from a vast information resource.
The numbers for young children are even more encouraging. The level of current drug users amongst 12-17 year olds dropped to just 9 percent in 2008 from 11.6 percent in 2000. The drop in this age range for individuals who have sampled illegal drugs was nearly 5 percent for the same period, which stands as a significant decrease considering the large size of the US population. These figures certainly indicate that the US government and representative teaching bodies are certainly doing something right in their quest to eradicate illegal drug use.
Continued Awareness and Teaching
Although there is obvious reason for encouragement given the decreasing levels of drug use, there is still room for improvement. Where the levels of alcohol consumption, and cigarette or recreational drugs have dropped considerably across all age ranges, there have been instances of the increased use of hallucinogens and psychotherapeutic amongst particular demographics. These slight modifications in trends and behaviour need to be monitored and incorporated in drug education to help continue the fight against drug use.
Of citizens aged 26 to 34, 1 percent used hallucinogens as opposed to just 0.5 percent in the year of 2000. The increase in psychotherapeutic drugs is even more significant within this period, and prominent between people aged 18 to 34 years, with a combined increase of over 0.5 percent. What is apparent is that drug use and the application of particular drugs is trend driven, and as governments react to quash the use of a specific drug then others emerge as popular in their wake. It is then the responsibility of the government and individual parents to adapt and maintain their awareness accordingly.
Teaching Methods and Reactive Education
These issues best reflect the nature of teaching. Behavioural trends and patterns change over time, often in line with social demands and environment. Drugs, whether recreational or otherwise, are subject to such trends in terms of their popularity and usage. This requires a reactive method of teaching rather than a proactive one, as it impossible to teach youngsters about every single drug individually without compromising the quality of education. Therefore teaching methods and subject matter are required to react according to social trends, and educate in detail about prominent illegal drugs.
So though the public perception of the levels of drug use and its suggested progression is out of proportion, there is still room for improvement when it comes to fully addressing the narcotics issue. When dealing with drug usage in a social context, it is important for governments to set realistic targets in terms of reducing their use and impact. By tackling the most prominent social drugs and focusing on specific problem areas, then governing bodies can best regulate the safety and well being of society.