Sobering statistics stagger in from 40-year high

Published 4:22 pm Monday, January 23, 2006

By Staff
You know the old saying: If you can remember the Sixties, you weren't really there.
In that sense, I wasn't.
Despite more than 40 years listening to the Beatles and the Stones, etc., they never convinced me to sample the drug scene.
Others of the 75 million baby boomers who dabbled in drugs weren't so lucky, like Gwen, 55, profiled in the Jan. 23 Time magazine.
Ironically, the Virginia educator smoked pot in college, taught drug abuse classes, yet is a cocaine addict today.
An estimated 1.7 million Americans over age 50 are addicted to drugs, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
SAMHSA, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, expects the toll to reach 4.4 million by 2020.
An ongoing federal study found that the number of older Americans seeking help for heroin or cocaine abuse quadrupled from 1992 to 2002.
Odyssey House, the New York City facility where Gwen spends her retirement attending regular sobriety meetings, now has a separate ElderCare division with inpatient and outpatient facilities to deal specifically with older users.
As Ozzy Osbourne amply demonstrates, the wages are cumulative for the first generation with a high incidence of recreational drug use, from marijuana and hallucinogens (although the guy who invented LSD recently turned 100) to cocaine and heroin.
I never succumbed to even a toke of the demon weed, but I sure associated with a lot of stereotypically goofy, forgetful slacker smokers going to high school during the time that inspired “Dazed and Confused,” attending concerts in college (where I saw “Reefer Madness” along with Kiss, Frank Zappa, David Crosby and Graham Nash and Blue Oyster Cult ) and barpretending on Mackinac Island.
A 2003 study in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society found that even among regular dopers, there is no proof that pot causes irreversible cognitive damage. Ironically for the Summer of Love crowd, it may diminish fertility.
Like any addictive intoxicating chemical, marijuana use can become chronic and compulsive until it crowds out other aspects of your life.
Pete Townsend must be glad he didn't die before he got old since The Who plan their first summer world tour in four years with Ringo's son Zak Starkey on drums.
Someday, maybe Paul and Ringo will tour with Pete and Roger Daltrey as The Whotles, since the instrumentation is a perfect fit.
Younger folks might recognize The Who as the “CSI” house band.
What Roy Johnson didn't say: Southwest Michigan's FBI agent addressed Dowagiac Rotary Club Jan. 12 and touched on public corruption, among many topics. For a little broader context, the FBI has produced a more than 40-percent increase in public-corruption indictments, with 2,233 cases pending nationwide versus 1,575 four years ago. Oddly, that jump can be credited to 9/11's reordering of priorities. As the FBI turned attention to countering terrorism, the bureau shed narcotics cases to the Drug Enforcement Administration, freeing 200 agents to fight graft.
Quips, quotes and qulunkers: “We don't know Jack.”