A recent government report revealed that underage drinking and binge drinking rates have largely dropped between 2002 and 2013. The percent of underage drinkers decreased from 28.8 percent to 22.7 percent in that 11-year period according to the Washington Post. Reportedly, the number of binge drinkers of all ages decreased from 19.3 percent to 14.2 percent, based on the survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The study also revealed that alcohol abuse is not as alluring to youth as it once was. However, alcohol abuse is still reported as the most common form of substance abuse for under aged kids. but another study found that another substance is just as popular, and for an even younger demographic than expected.
Recently, Clinical Pediatrics published a study which showed that there was a 147.5 percent rise in exposure to Marijuana in children under the age of 5. The exposure level reportedly rose by 610 percent between the short time span between 2006 and 2013. The study also found that these numbers were higher in states that had recently legalized Marijuana for recreational use. As a whole, states where Marijuana is legal, saw a 63 percent increase in exposure in children under 6. Nation-wide, 75 percent of the under aged children exposed were ages 3 and under. Though exposure through indirect contact is common, many of the children’s tests proved that the drug had been directly ingested. Henry Spiller, co-author of the study explains what could be causing this rise.
“The high percentage of ingestions may be related to the popularity of marijuana brownies, cookies and other foods. Very young children explore their environments by putting items in their mouths, and foods such as brownies and cookies are attractive.”
When Marijuana legalization began, many recreational users claimed that the drug was harmless because of it’s natural origin. Science has since proven that Marijuana does cause some health problems and psychiatrists have dubbed the plant derived mellower a “gateway drug.” making it much more psychologically harmful than alcohol. However, alcohol is still considered 114 times less deadly than alcohol.
The Center For Disease Control and Prevention sees underage drinking and binge drinking are serious health concerns, often linked to violence, automobile crashes, and drowning. However, it has been proven that Marijuana can cause the same things to occur, especially in teens and other underage children. Alcohol is reportedly responsible for 4,300 child deaths each year. Marijuana has already begun to raise crime rates in states like New York and Florida, and the drug is being called “the next Tobacco,” which was an epidemic that the United States is finally starting to recover from. The Center For Substance Abuse Prevention has made statements on how they aim to help continue to decrease under aged and binge drinking.
“Our target is to change social norms. Have norms been changed? Absolutely.”
The issue preventing the change of social norms from being effective in preventing substance abuse seems to be the substance control laws, according to the authors of the Clinical Pediatrics study.
“Any state considering marijuana legalization needs to include child protections in its laws from the very beginning. Child safety must be part of the discussion when a state is considering legalization of marijuana.”
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