For years and years we hear the poor arguments that marijuana is the gateway drug. While that is a myth that has been proven wrong a million times over, especially in favor of alcohol abuse (after all, how many people do you know had their first joint before their first beer!?), for what is perhaps the first time, we have statistics showing that as of 2010, prescription pills have been the number one gateway drug.
"For as long as the Department of Justice has tracked drug abuse, marijuana was the first-time users' drug of choice," Marshall County Alabama County District Attorney and district judge-elect Mitch Floyd stated. "But in 2010, prescription pills overtook marijuana."
According to Floyd's calculations, almost 4 billion prescriptions were written in 2010 in the United States. That is an almost 200% increase since 1989, due in no small part to the aggressive tactics employed by pharmaceutical companies in the 2000s, that included wooing doctors and medical professionals through kickbacks and wining and dining.
"The mentality is that these prescription pills don't carry the stigma of illegal drugs because doctors prescribe them," Floyd stated. "But the truth is, pills are more deadly than heroin, cocaine, and meth combined."
Some additional statistics that Floyd provided included a 400% jump in admissions to addiction treatment centers from 1997 to 2007, and controlled pills contributed to the deaths of 37,485 people in 2009, almost triple the number from just a year before. That's also more than the number of car accident fatalities that same year.
Floyd's statistics were obtained from the 2011 National Drug Threat Assessment, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, surveys conducted by Court Appointed Special Advocates, as well as other sources.