We thought the dark years of the syringes were left behind. We also thought drugs that kill in the most devastating ways, leaving young people bent on street corners, were history. Of course, new drugs – from smart drugs to amphetamine, not to mention cocaine – were equally devastating. Our concern and alert was still high, but also that way of taking drugs, which is so different from that of the past, was a sign of changing times and overall statistics seemed to be declining.
Yet, there is a significant resurgence of drugs among young people. There is also a return to consumption methods used years ago. That should give us food for thought. According to data provided by the Institute of Clinical Physiology of Pisa CNR ESPAD@Italy, heroin use among 15-year-old males has redoubled. The study estimated that over 650 thousand high-school students have used at least one illegal substance (cannabis, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, or stimulants) last year. For these teenagers, the most noteworthy data concern the redoubling of heroin users over the last 12 months compared to 2014, bucking both sex and other age categories trends.”
Also a modest, but steady increase in cannabis use was registered over the last twelve months (from 22% to 27%), whereas use of stimulants grew from 2.3% to 2.7%. The consumption of all other substances (corresponding to about 0.6% -0.7%) has remain unchanged, according to the study, which showed also a slight decrease in the statistics concerning occasional use of cocaine (from 3 % to 2.6%), heroin (from 1.3% to 1%) and hallucinogens (from 2.7% to 2.3%).
Statistics concerning heroin use are alarming. Compared to 2014, it has redoubled among adolescents, over the last year: in the same age group was registered also the highest number of current use of this substance, the most drug popular after cannabis. 2% of males aged 15, about 5,000 people, said they had used heroin at least once in the month prior to the survey. Raises further alarm the fact that about 3,000 15-year-old teens tried substances used through injection in 2015.
The question we should ask ourselves is ‘‘why?’’ The answer is that we are poorer. Not so much and not only economically speaking, but in terms of values and prospects. The former being engulfed by a relativism which does not give, especially to young people, points of reference on which to base their development. The concept of good and evil is not absolute, it changes depending on who offers it and the circumstances around. Having the freedom to do everything is absolutely not an answer, on the contrary, it feeds existential anguish that is not filled and poses questions of which one cannot give a synthesis. And escaping becomes a way out, an ephemeral and terrible one, but real at the same time.
For those who are maybe older, who manage to find values in family teachings, the risk is lack of prospects – at least in Italy -, compared to a country that is unable to propose a credible future, strangled in a present made of bureaucracy and taxes, obstacles, muggings, and unemployment.
Misery before, in, and around man. Pope Francis, however, urges us not to give up: “Right now, the devil comes disguised as an angel and often and insidiously tells us his word – he said off the cuff to the crowd during an Angelus – do not listen to him, let us follow Jesus… please do not let anyone steal your hope!”
When hope dies, that void is filled by evil. More and more often it takes the shape of drugs, which drug addicts call “the beast”. Not by chance.