Tuesday, January 31, 2006

State of the Union

President Bush just said:
"Drug use among youth is down 19 percent since 2001...

These gains are evidence of a quiet transformation - a revolution of conscience, in which a rising generation is finding that a life of personal responsibility is a life of fulfillment. Government has played a role. Wise policies such as welfare reform, drug education, and support for abstinence and adoption have made a difference in the character of our country. And everyone here tonight, Democrat and Republican, has a right to be proud of this record."


Anonymous said...

ok....so what's wrong with that?

Jesse Stout said...

I either don't understand or don't believe the 19%/2001 statistic. Our President also just said, "For all Americans, we must confront the rising cost of care … strengthen the doctor-patient relationship." Marijuana is an inexpensive (naturally-occuring) medicine which doctors should (do?) have the right to discuss with their patients.

Anonymous said...

Here's the actual stats:

* Trends in 30-Day Prevalence of Use of Various Drugs for Eighth, Tenth, and Twelfth Graders

Essentially, it says a two-percent overall reduction for each in 8th, 10th, and 12th grades for past-month use from 2001 to 2005.

On the other hand, if you compare to 1991, past-month use has increased 5% (if you average the grade levels).

As for where the 19% comes, I'm not sure. If you add up each percentage point change in every grade level between 2001 and 2005, you get a total of 11.2%, which is disingenuous to begin with.

* Trends in Lifetime Prevalence of Use of Various Drugs for Eighth, Tenth, and Twelfth Graders

I'll leave someone else to pickle out lifetime use. But it's increased in every catagory since 1991.

Kris said...

I suppose Bush is "connecting the dots" in mentioning welfare reform, drug education, and support for abstinence and adoption. I will avoid preaching to the choir here regarding drug education, but I will say I am stumped as to how these "wise policies" constitute any consolidated difference in national character. It would be creepy in its facist overtones if it only had a thread of logic. Sometimes I think his simian persona is really the ultimate velvet hammer.

And way to keep the fire burnin', SSDP'ers.

800 pound gorilla said...

Is that why use of antidepressants, ritalin, adderall, and all sorts of other more inherently dangerous drugs is skyrocketing among those older than 10? Once again, the dangerous drugs mythology at work. We don't even keep statistics on drug dependencies. Blood pressure meds, heart meds, and OTC painkillers aren't real drugs. You can spend over 600 bucks a month on prescription meds and tell someone with a straight face that you don't have a drug problem.

Even 20 years ago when I thought that marijuana was a "soft" drug - along with alcohol - and that cocaine and heroin were really badass drugs I recognized that coffee and meds were drugs. I also recognized peer pressure when I overheard people telling coworkers about the drugs they used to deal with pain and discomfort. We are a drug obsessed culture but [or is it because?] we focus on a select segment of arbitrarily banned and restricted drugs - instead of educating people about how drugs are supposed to work.

Jason said...

No, when they truly want to be disingenuous they'll cite drug use trends since '79.

From Trends in Lifetime Prevalence of Use of Various Drugs for Eighth, Tenth, and Twelfth Graders:


8th Grade: 26.8
10th Grade: 45.6
12th Grade: 53.9


8th Grade: 21.4
10th Grade: 38.2
12th Grade: 50.4

Without actually breaking out a calculator, this is roughly a 19% drop from one to the other.

But these numbers don't really mean much anyway. It seems to me that more lifetime users has, at best, a shaky correlation to trends in more drug abusers. The core issues should be how kids are educated about drugs, knowing the lines between use and abuse, and keeping a responsible focus through the situations they encounter.

If you connect the dots between Bush's comments about abstinence and renewing "the defining moral commitments of this land," then I think that cuts a bit closer to the culture war we're engaged in.

Anonymous said...

That's 16.3, which is a big swing away from 19. And, again, it's only if you count each grade drop, rather than the average.