This research describes drug use by youths in Maryland. Drugs, for the purpose of this research, are defined as the illegal use of controlled substances. Youths, as the term is used in this research refers to persons under the age of 18 years old and over the age of 11 years old regardless of gender. Within the context of these definitions, tobacco is a drug for purposes of this research. Where possible and appropriate, the geographic emphasis in this research is placed on the Baltimore region.
The Character of Drug Use in American Society
In contemporary American society, the "use of certain substances to modify mood or behavior under certain circumstances is generally regarded as normal and appropriate. Such use includes recreational drinking of alcohol, in which a majority of adult Americans participate . . ." (American Psychiatric Association 165). Problems for most people develop when "maladaptive behavioral changes associated with the more or less regular use of psychoactive substances that affect the central nervous system" appear (165).
Most "adults in the United States are light drinkers. About 35% abstain, 55% drink fewer that three alcoholic drinks a week, and only 11% consume an average of one ounce or more of alcohol a day" (American Psychiatric Association 173). The prevalence of drinking is highest and abstention lowest for both females and males in the 21-34 age range. Males are two-to-five times more likely than are females to be heavy drinkers, regardless of age group. The prevalence of heavy drinking among adults decreases with age; "only 7% of males and 2% of females are considered heavy drinkers" among persons aged 65 years or older (173). For all adults, "10% of drinkers consume 50% of the total alcohol consumed" (173). Considering that 35 percent of adults in the United States abstain from alcohol consumption, thus, 6.5 percent of American adults consume 50 percent of all alcohol consumed, a...