Thursday, August 30, 2007

Smoke and Coke

In the substance abuse world today, scary story on how tobacco use may turn on genes that enable lung cancer and that don’t look like they turn off even the smoker stops. For you War on Pot folks, this might be an area you want to look into to strengthen your argument more, just as soon as you apply the same logic to tobacco. And here’s an interesting finding on the abuse front:

The decreased use of cocaine in the United States over the last 20 years mostly occurred among the highly educated, while cocaine use among non-high school graduates remained constant, according to a study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The study authors suspect that the inverse relationship between cocaine use and education is related to access to health warnings and resources. They also concluded that the emerging disparity highlights the need for improved interventions that target persistent cocaine users who are lower educated.
During the late 1980s, the proportion of high school and college graduates classified as persistent users dropped dramatically and fell below that of non-high school graduates. During the same time period, first time cocaine use steadily decreased among all adults regardless of their level of educational achievement and remained low.

“It isn’t enough to simply try to stop individuals from using cocaine the first time,” said Harder. “More drug intervention programs that target non-high school graduates are necessary to reduce persistent cocaine use in that population.”

Wait, wait, I thought the decrease in cocaine use in the last two decades was the result of stiffer penalties and more incarceration, not some cultural thing or something that could be affected by investing in more education. But, since the higher educated are the most likely to end up in prison, it’s clear why they’ve been the most deterred. . . . wait.

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