Changes in the Drug Scene: Drug Use Trends and Behavioral Patterns

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The “drug scene” in the United States has evolved very dramatically in the period from prior to 1965 to the present. The sociology of drug use patterns was rather constant prior to 1965. In the mid 1960s “fashionable trends” in drug use took shape, starting with use of psychedelics for consciousness expansion. This led to poly-drug use, where the quality of the drugs taken deteriorated leading to present availability of “look alikes” which are manufactured to resemble original drug products but are counterfeit controlled substances. Several special current drug problems currently exist including freebasing cocaine, phencyclidine use and methaqualone use. The potential behavioral meanings of drug use are discussed, which may be multiple and multi-determined in nature. The interface of adolescent development issues and family dynamics are important to consider in regard to potential underlying reasons for adolescent drug abuse.

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A questionnaire examining drug attitudes and use was completed by 414 Barbadian secondary school students. Self-reports indicated approximately 70% had tried alcohol, 30% had smoked tobacco, and 9% had tried marijuana. Only one had used heroin and none had tried cocaine. The great majority of students thought it important to be well informed about drugs, and that their government was not doing enough to provide the necessary education or to halt the cultivation and importation of illegal substances. Findings are discussed with reference to public and media concern about drug abuse in the Caribbean.
By utilizing the Gutman Scaling technique and by plotting acquisition curves, a number of different patterns of involvement with different psychoactive drugs were discerned. A stable, sequential, and cumulative hierarchy of experience with drugs was found to be established at age 15, but different peak years exist for trying different drugs. It was also found that drug use may be cumulative for some drugs and not for others. Special emphasis has been given to discussing the research implications that have arisen from the present study.
Psychiatric diagnostic profiles, drug and personal histories, and social support measures were obtained for a clinic sample of abusers of pentazocine when the drug was withdrawn and re-released by the manufacturer compounded with the opiate antagonist naloxone. Nearly 50% of the sample (N = 99) reported using the new drug during the following 6 to 9 months, despite its reduced abuse potential. Reinterviews revealed that claimed use of pentazocine dropped to half. © 1988 Informa UK Ltd All rights reserved: reproduction in whole or part not permitted.
This report focuses on several aspects of the "drug" cannabis in our society: the historical notion of a chemical as a moral issue (i.e., good and evil) rather than a pharmacological one; the scientist as a human being as well as a witting or unwitting influencer of social policy; the statistical design and manipulation of research consciously or unconsciously for fame and fortune (grants); the research treatment "connection" as part of our drug abuse industrial complex, a billion dollar a year industry; and the covert governmental manipulation and distortion of cannabis (and other drug) data.