There are different views around here about some illegal drugs and whether or not they should be, I realize, but these are alarming numbers (from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, via Bill Bennett, Alex Dattig, and Seth Leibsohn):
Illicit drug abuse is seriously affecting our children, our schools, our workplaces and our society. And it is on the rise. In 2009, nearly 22 million Americans were regularly abusing illicit drugs: a rise of 1.5 million abusers of marijuana from 2008 and a rise of 2.3 million users from 2007, a rise of 205,000 abusers of Ecstasy from 2008, a rise of 188,000 abusers of methamphetamine from 2008 and a rise of 800,000 abusers of prescription drugs from 2008.
Then there’s the death toll. Nearly 40,000 Americans are killed each year by drug overdoses — not drug-related car accidents, not drug-related gang violence or homicide; those are an entirely different and eye-popping set of numbers. By overdose alone, we lose the equivalent of more than one 9/11 a month and almost eight times as many Americans as have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001 (deaths the national media reports on weekly, if not daily).
There are more people dying from drug overdose in America than people dying from gun violence. In several states, drug overdose deaths outnumber deaths caused by car crashes. But these drug-death statistics receive almost no media attention.