Saturday, July 05, 2008

As reported by Wine & Spirits Daily

Wine & Spirits Daily

U.S. Ranks Higher in Drug and Alcohol Abuse

July 3, 2008

Despite strict drug and alcohol laws, the United States leads the world in rates of experimenting with drugs, researchers at the World Health Organization have found.

"The United States, which has been driving much of the world's drug research and drug policy agenda, stands out with higher levels of use of alcohol, cocaine, and cannabis, despite punitive illegal drug policies, as well as (in many U.S. states), a higher minimum legal alcohol drinking age than many comparable developed countries," said the research team, lead by Dr. Louisa Degenhardt of the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

After surveying 54,000 people in 17 countries, researchers determined that alcohol was by far the most common substance used worldwide, with higher levels found in the U.S. along with marijuana and cocaine. Sixteen percent of people in the United States had used cocaine in their lifetimes. The next highest rate comes from New Zealand where only 4.3% reported using cocaine. More than 42% of Americans admitted to having tried cannabis, closely followed by 41% in New Zealand, reports Reuters.

By the age of 21, up to 99% of Europeans, 92% of Japanese, 94% of New Zealanders and 93% of people in the Americas had tasted alcohol.

Interestingly, researchers found that countries with looser drug and alcohol laws have lower rates of abuse.

So what does the U.S. plan on doing? The U.S. National Institutes of Health director Dr. Elias Zerhouni said the following in a statement:

"These findings add to our understanding of substance abuse world-wide, and suggest that drug use is still a major problem in this country, pointing to the need for more effective prevention interventions."

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