Generational Trends In Drug Use

Generational Trends In Drug Use

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While today’s headlines feature the dangers of abuse of popular drugs like heroin and meth, the temptation to abuse drugs has existed for as long as the drugs themselves have. And while treatment options may have evolved, one fact remains: treatment is imperative to break the chains addiction hold over so many drug addicts.

Trends In Drug Use During The 60s

The 60s ushered in the era of peace, love and rock ‘n’ roll, and it seemed like certain demographic groups drifted toward certain drugs. Marijuana seemed to be the drug of choice for most who considered themselves ‘hippies,’ while lower-income and urban city drug addictions were often founded in heroin abuse. The 60s were also when the LSD era began, fueled by a Harvard professor named Timothy Leary[1].

The hype from the 60s era (think Haight-Ashbury days) would lend many to believe that that decade was the decade for illegal drug abuse and addiction, but that’s not exactly the case. A 1969 Gallup poll[2] showed that only about 4% of adults had even tried marijuana and 43% of adults felt it was a drug that high school kids experimented with.

But a movement was coming…the Rolling Stones had a hit in 1966 talking about valium being Mother’s Little Helper, and the Beatles helped usher in a shift in drug use and addiction that the world watched with mouths agape.

Trends In Drug Use During The 70s

The 70s brought about more hallucinogenics and barbiturates, with possibly the most popular poster child for heroin addiction being John Lennon. Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono began their addiction with marijuana, but by 1969, heroin ruled their life. Bandmate Paul McCartney said in an interview[3] that the rest of the band was shocked by the couple’s heroin use because the rest of the band considered it too far out.

And while Lennon spent the next several years showing the world the travesties of drug addiction and failed attempts to get clean, drug use and addiction increased significantly. Whereas just ten years before only 4% of adults said they’d used marijuana, by 1978, 66% of Americans recognized marijuana as a serious problem[4] and 35% showed significant concern about harder drugs—barbiturates, hallucinogenics, psychotherapeutic, and pain killers.

With good reason. The 70s allowed recreational drug use to grow and by the late 70s, cocaine began its course of being a problem of epidemic proportion. While drug dealers may have started the enticing marketing of cocaine initially in urban youth cultures, by the 80s Cocaine use was just as much a sign of ‘success’ as it was a blight on urban populations.

Trends In Drug Use During the 80s

One of the iconic remembrances of the 1980s may be former First Lady Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No!” campaign. Her husband, President Ronald Reagan, initiated the first ‘war on drugs’ as ‘crack cocaine’ was a national problem. It wasn’t just an issue for youth, though the growing numbers of youth turning to drugs like crack were scary. A Gallup Poll in 1986[5] found that 42% of Americans believed that ‘crack’ and other forms of cocaine were the most serious problems of society at that time.

It’s easy to see why—popular movies like Better Off Dead and Airplane glamorized the use of ‘snow’ and cocaine easily was the drug of choice for the 80s financial boom Wall Street-ers who equated the ability to buy the drugs with power. Unfortunately, those who bought into that glamorization realized only when it was too late how addictive the drug was, and to what lengths people would go to in order to obtain it. So strong the pull of drugs during the 80s was, President Reagan signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act in 1986. In 1988, the Act was amended, giving stiffer penalties to those who peddled the drugs, and finally putting into place more resources for treating those who’d fallen to addiction.

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Trends In Drug Use During The 90s and 2000

The end of the 20th century still had marijuana use as a popular gateway drug, but efforts to wage a war against cocaine use seemed to be somewhat fruitful. In fact, a Gallup Youth survey[6] showed that marijuana use dropped from 1981 to 1999 and in 2016, the National Institute on Drug Abuse[7] claimed that the ‘trial’ uses of marijuana, inhalants, LSD, methamphetamines and even cocaine have dropped.

That decline, however, made way for the growth of heroin and ‘club’ drugs like ecstasy and crystal meth. Despite the paranoia, delusions, and overdose dangers these drugs brought their addictive properties made abuse rates grow, and deaths due to overdose increase as well. The United States also began to see the dangers of opioid abuses, particularly prescription opioids, and this led to the current opioid crisis the country continues to face.

Trends In Drug Use From 2000 to Present Day

While a 2017 Gallup poll found that Americans are more likely to support the legalization of marijuana (64% approve of it being legal) and are using marijuana both medicinally and recreationally, a 2018 Gallup report[6] claims government statistics show that there is progress in tackling the epidemic of illegal drugs.

That said, the Health Resources & Services Administration[8] suggests that this country is in the middle of an unprecedented opioid epidemic, with 166 people a day dying from opioid-related drug overdoses. The CDC[9] estimates that almost 70% of the drug overdose deaths in 2017 involved an opioid, and the number of overdose deaths that involved opioids was six times higher than it was in 1999.

What Do These Trends in Drug Use Tell Us?

What all these generational trends in drug use tell us is that while the drugs of choice may evolve through the decades, the temptation to use, and consequentially the vulnerability to abuse and become addicted consistently exist no matter the year.

As long as there are drugs to be abused, sadly, people will fall into addiction and need help getting their lives back together. That’s where the compassionate care and treatment options that Ocean Hills Recovery offers make a life-changing impact.

The Time To Change Your Life Is Now

If you’re struggling with addiction and want to break the bondage that addiction has held you in, the time is now. Ocean Hills Recovery is staffed with professional, certified, and caring people who want to walk this road with you to put you back on the path you were meant to be in this life. They want you to spend the next decades of your life free from addiction and all the damage and danger that brings, and all you need to do is reach out to them so they can begin helping.

Don’t let any more time pass by. Call them now and grab hold of your freedom from addiction!












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