Study Finds Different Drugs of Choice! 

Study Finds Different Drugs of Choice! 
Posted by FoM on March 14, 1999 at 05:40:36 PT
in New and Old Worlds
UNITED NATIONS An international antidrug agency reports that people in North and South America consume large amounts of performance-enhancing drugs and stimulants, commonly called "uppers," while Europeans are the world's top users of so-called downers, or stress-reducing drugs.
Those were among the trends discussed in the annual report of the International Narcotics Control Board, an independent panel that oversees U.N. drug-control treaties. The board is responsible for monitoring and promoting the compliance of signatory countries in controlling 116 drugs and 111 psychotropic substances, a category that includes hallucinogens, stimulants and depressants.The report, issued last month, noted that there was no clear-cut explanation for the differences in usage between Europe and the Americas. But it speculated they could be linked to such factors as culture, the effects of advertising and differences in doctor-patient relationships. Noting the tendency of Americans, particularly in the United States, to make heavy use of a wide range of performance-enhancing drugs -- from muscle-building steroids to Ritalin, used to treat attention-deficit disorder and hyperactivity in children, to Viagra, the anti-impotence drug -- the report said: "Such high use . . . could be at least partly explained by a prevalent sense of competition. Use of these drugs seems linked to culture and lifestyle."In the Americas, particularly in the United States, performance-enhancing drugs are given to children to boost school performance or help them conform with the demands of school life," the report said. "They are also taken by adults to achieve the desired body image, boost athletic prowess and social skills or enhance sexual performance."Americans' use of stimulants, particularly amphetamine-type substances for dieting and methylphenidate substances, such as Ritalin, amounts to an annual total of 330 million daily doses, compared with a total of about 65 million daily doses in all other parts of the world, the report says.The report found no evidence that life in Europe is more stressful than in the Americas. Nevertheless, it said, stress-reducing drugs, called benzodiazepines, were used by as much as 10 percent of the population in some European countries, with people older than 65 the heaviest users.It said: "Many Europeans in this age group have retired and no longer suffer professional stress, but may use the drugs to cope with isolation or threatening changes in life routine."The report also noted the board's opinion that the debate about medicinal use of marijuana had been characterized "by ignorance, emotion and propaganda on all sides," and it recommended increased scientific research to better determine whether cannabis is beneficial in alleviating the unpleasant effects of various illnesses.
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