As Heroin Use And Teenage Pot Smoking Fall, Alarm About Them Rises

If you pay
attention to drug warriors and their collaborators in the press,
you may be under the impression that heroin use and teenage pot
smoking are on the rise. In my latest Forbes column,
I explain that the government’s own survey data contradict those
claims. Here is how the piece starts:

Survey data released last week by the federal government cast
doubt on a couple of widely accepted beliefs about drug use trends:
1) that the nation is in the midst of an escalating “heroin
epidemic” and 2) that loosening marijuana prohibition encourages
teenagers to smoke pot.

In the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH),
the number of respondents who reported using heroin in the previous
month fell by 14 percent last year, despite ever-rising concern
about a new “heroin epidemic.” While NSDUH
probably misses a substantial number of heavy users
(exactly how many is unclear), the trends identified by the survey
still should indicate whether heroin consumption is on the rise or
on the wane (as both government officials and journalists tend
to assume). Hence it is instructive to compare past-month
heroin use measured by NSDUH (in thousands of users) with
mentions of a “heroin epidemic” in the newspaper and wire service
articles collected by Nexis. On the face of it, there is no clear
relationship between the level of heroin use and the level of press
attention to it.

Read the whole thing.

from Hit & Run

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