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2015 Drug Trends

Unfortunately, the culture of drug abuse and addiction is constantly in motion – here in Boise, Idaho, elsewhere in the United States, and everywhere in the world. The way and the frequency that people use their drug of choice evolve and new and ever-more-dangerous substances are introduced into society.

Substance abuse is a very real and present threat here in Boise. Idaho, taken as a whole, has long had a maligned, yet unfortunately-well-deserved, reputation as a state where the rate of drug use is often higher than other places across the country.

Trends with Commonly-Abused Substances

Addiction is a disease that is at once both highly personal and deleterious to the rest of society. To the individual, addiction manifests itself uniquely – the drug of choice, the amount abused, the frequency, and the toll it takes upon their own personal life. To the rest of society, addiction is a disease that has real costs upon EVERYONE, including non-addicts. These costs can be financial and measurable – crime, health care costs, the need for more law enforcement and prisons – or societal and harder to quantify – broken families, generational drug abuse, the need for more frequent interventions by Child Protective Services. In either case, having an accurate snapshot of the illicit drug activity in Boise, Idaho, the rest of the state, and the entire country can give everyone a realistic idea of the magnitude of the problem, which may in turn help inspire new avenues of thought to combat the scourge. Usage Trends Nationwide – According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) latest statistics (2013), 24.6% of Americans age 12 or older used some sort of illegal drug within the last 30 days. This figure represents 9.4 % of the entire population, up from 8.3% the year before.

  • Marijuana –8%
  • Prescription Drugs –5%
  • Cocaine – 5%
  • Hallucinogens –3%
  • Inhalants –.5%
  • Heroin–.3%

Usage Trends in Idaho – According to the State of Idaho Substance Abuse Needs Assessment, published in December 2013 by the Idaho Office of Drug Policy:

  • Use rates for methamphetamines in Idaho have been reduced by approximately 50% over the past decade.
  • Only 3% of Idaho students take their first drink before the age of 13, down from 27.6% in 2001.
  • Since 2009, marijuana trafficking charges have approximately tripled.
  • As the rate of seizures or prescription drugs increases, Idaho’s drug mortality rate is trending to surpass the national rate.
  • Also, according to a 2013 SAMHSA report, Idaho had the 4th-highest rate of opioid abuse in the US – 73%, compared to a national average of 4.6%.

Newly-Emerging or Resurgent Drugs

As illicit drug manufacturing becomes more sophisticated, the marketplace nationwide is continually flooded with new “designer” drugs. Some of the most recent include:

  • 2C-P – The “2C” class of designer drugs are synthetic psychedelics/hallucinogens typically found as white powder or crystals.
  • Bath Salts – Resembling actual bath salts such as Epsom salts, these recreational drugs can be injected, ingested, snorted, or smoked, and are usually sold in the open as other products with such innocuous, yet suggestive names as “Zoom” or “Purple Wave”.
  • Butane Hash Oil – Also known as “honey oil”, BHO is a powerful distillation of the essential ingredients found in marijuana. The concentrate can be mixed into drinks or “smoked” in vaporizers. It is extremely potent – regular marijuana is usually no more than 18% THC, while the concentrate can be as high as 90%. Abusing BHO is known as “dabbing”.
  • Fentanyl – Up to 100 times more potent than morphine, this analgesic synthetic opioid is typically prescribed for pain management in cancer patients. It is becoming increasingly popular for dealers to cut their heroin with fentanyl, and that in turn can lead to skyrocketing overdose fatalities.
  • Flakka –Also known as Alpha-PVP, this designer drug smells like household ammonia and looks like common rock salt. When vaporized, the drug is particularly powerful and can cause a hyper-stimulated euphoria that can trigger violent hallucinations, paranoia, and aggression. Many law enforcement agents are saying it is the worst drug they have ever seen.
  • Krokodil – Called by Time Magazine “the World’s Deadliest Drug”, this is a derivative of morphine, yet it is up to 10 times more powerful. It is made from red phosphorus from matches, iodine from over-the-counter medications, and codeine. Because of its effect on the addict’s skin, it is also known as the “flesh-eating” drug.
  • Molly – Known popularly as “ecstasy”, this drug is very popular within the club/party culture. It has a psychedelic amphetamine quality that creates euphoria, along with heightened sociability and sexuality.
  • Opana – Oxymorphone is a powerful semi-synthetic prescription opioid painkiller that is four times as powerful as morphine and up to eight times as powerful as OxyContin. When used as an injectable recreational drug, it can heighten the risk of contracting HIV.
  • Suboxone – Although it is usually prescribed to help and opioid addict during withdrawal, the US FDA has reported that Suboxone contains buprenorphine hydrochloride, which can be abused just like opioids. Because it is relatively easy to obtain a prescription of Suboxone, it is increasingly being used recreationally.
  • Synthetic Cannabinoids – These are designer drugs that can be sprayed onto a different non-cannabis herbal substance and then smoked to mimic the effects of marijuana. They are typically sold/marketed as all-natural “herbal” products and/or popular because they do not produce a positive drug test, as would cannabis.

A Few Words about Designer Drugs

As can be seen from the above list, so-called “designer drugs” are exploding onto the market. Besides the already-serious problem of addiction and all that it entails, of major concern is the fact that these drugs can be incredibly hazardous – even to just try. The entire reason that designer drugs exist is to circumvent existing legislation. When lawmakers outlaw a certain type of substance, the manufacturers – almost always overseas in places like China – create a new formula that is chemically different from what is banned. When the new creation attracts enough attention to also be specifically banned, they “tweak” the formula just enough to technically stay within the rules. This is why so many are marketed as “legal” highs. However, the chemical formulations are often extremely potent, with horrific side effects, and when chemical alterations are made, they are done without regard to safety. National news was bombarded with indelible images depicting the insane behavior of people on bath salts, Krokodil is called “the flesh-eating drug”, and police call Flakka abusers “zombies”. And these are just a few examples.

The Bottom Line

The dangers of drug abuse are worse now than ever before, and it is no exaggeration to say that “these aren’t your parents’ drugs” from a generation ago. Designer drugs are more prevalent and unpredictable than at any point in history. Even the more familiar abuse substances – marijuana, heroin, etc. – are far more potent, and therefore unpredictable, than they were even a generation ago. BHO is a prime example. Even parents who lightly experimented with drugs themselves when they were young can’t afford to rationalize their own children’s behavior with, “It’s just pot“. Obviously, it’s not. For these reasons, if you or someone you care about is abusing and/or addicted to drugs, it is absolutely imperative that they get help. There are many well-established and reputable drug detox and drug treatment centers in Boise, Idaho, that are just a phone call away. Make that phone call and speak to an addiction specialist today.