February 7, 2023

Dear Legislator,

Addiction is an equitable, diverse, and inclusive disease. Mostly likely every family in the US has been impacted by substance abuse either directly or indirectly.  Of great concern is the increase in people 12-30 who are engaging in drug use and the alarming number of overdoses deaths.  Understating the root cause is essential to providing solutions for state especially families who are struggling and feel hopeless. To help find answers it is necessary to better understand this crisis.

Past year Illicit drug user among people aged 12 or older (Click for SAMSHA Data and Slides), 78.1% (218.6 M) did not use illicit drugs (includes misuse of pain relievers/opioids) in the United States! However, 21.9% (61.2M) did use illicit drugs. It is this population that must be provided with reasons and alternative strategies to prevent abusing drugs.
Illicit Drug Use:

  1. There are 6 times more marijuana users 52.5 M than the second most common drug (opioids) 8.7M
  2. Broken down by age group illicit drugs: 12-17 3.7 M; 18-25 12.7M; of those using illicit drugs 10.5% and 35.4% used marijuana, respectively.
  3. Opioid misuse in the past year among people aged 12 or older in 2021 did not differ among racial or ethnic groups.

In 2020, suicide was the 12th leading cause of death among people of all ages in the United States. Suicide was the second leading cause of death among people aged 10 to 34.

 Marijuana Use and suicide: Conclusion: Between 2015 and 2019, suicide ideation/behaviors increased for adolescents that used marijuana. As marijuana is legalized in more states, public health efforts are needed to curb increases in marijuana use among adolescents.

Although alcohol remains the #1 drug of choice for initiating the use of drugs by people over the age of 12, marijuana is quickly catching up
(2.6 M in 2021)
mainly due to the ease of access and lack of education on the short and long-term negative health impacts of using marijuana.  THC is available in a variety of products that are sold and marketed to youth in Florida in retail stores and the internet.  Calls to poison control centers for kids 5 and under consuming edibles containing THC rose from 207 in 2017 to 3,054 in 2021 This is a 1,375% increase, according to the study. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.  Nearly all of the children (about 97%) found the edibles at home.

Among the 40.7 million people aged 12 or older in 2021 with an illicit drug or alcohol use disorder in the past year who did not receive treatment at a specialty facility, 96.8 percent (or 39.5 million people) felt they did not need treatment, 2.1 percent (or 837,000 people) felt that they needed treatment but did not make an effort to get treatment, and 1.1 percent (or 447,000 people) felt that they needed treatment and made an effort to get treatment.

In Hillsborough County, 30% of toxicology reports analyzed by the medical examiner (crash fatality, homicide, suicide or other cases) were positive for marijuana.


Due to the strength of heroin and stronger opioids, it is rare that these drugs are a person’s first choice on their path to addiction. To reduce opioid overdoses, we must educate everyone on the harmful consequences of using any of the three primary drugs of initiation-alcohol, marijuana, and nicotine. This can be accomplished by utilizing research-based primary prevention programs to educate students (and parents) to help everyone understand why choosing to use drugs of ANY kind is not a good choice. In addition, seeking the help of a mental health professional and healthy alternatives such as exercise, sports, dance, and music should be encouraged.

For links to this information and references…. stoprxdrugabuse.org/dr/2023-legislation

Ellen Snelling  er.snelling@verizon.net   
Teresa Miller  tmiller@stoprxdrugabuse.org  




Link to resources: 

Suicide:  http://www.rethinkpot.org/tags/suicide
SAMSHA  Survey: https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/2021-nsduh-annual-national-report
SAMSHA Slides: https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/reports/rpt39443/2021_NNR_figure_slides.pdf




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