Even if you think that drugs should remain illegal I hope at this point people at least will acknowledge the current methods are not working. In fact they’ve made the problem worse. The rise of drug cartels, which have a stranglehold on good people south of the border and neighborhoods here in the US, is a direct result of the so-called war on drugs. It’s a war we’ve lost. If there is a drug problem in America then we have to understand by now that, as many have said before, we cannot arrest our way out of it. Drug addicts arrested end up back on the street getting the drug again. Putting them in jail doesn’t actually help them. There are some who overcome addiction due to a jail stint but they are the exception, not the rule.
What then? What do we do to help those who are drugs?
That’s the first clue right there: we think of them as people who need help, not as criminals who need arrested. That’s a very difficult transition in thinking for many people to make. Drugs are still seen by many as a weakness. That people who take drugs are in trouble because of their own choices. Even if that’s true (it’s not) why does that mean we can’t help them?
Of course the author of the below article thinks that universal healthcare is the answer. Which means he’s just suggesting another kind of exploitation of the drug problem to gain power. Same end, different means. If any solution is meant to be made it must first start with different thinking. Maybe you read this and ask, “what then?” I don’t know. I don’t think it’s any one solution.
When try the same thing over and over again and see that it doesn’t work then it seems like it’s time for a discussion.
I hate to toss out problems without offering at least a few solutions.
First off we have to stop treating drug use as a horrible crime against humanity. I acknowledge that the first time someone uses a drug it’s their fault. They indeed made that choice. However, we need to fully understand that it doesn’t take long before it’s not their choice anymore. Addiction isn’t something someone can “just stop” anymore than depression is something people can “just be happy” their way out of.
Secondly, alter the legal ramifications of drug use. Arguments can be made for making it legal and arguments can be made for leaving it illegal. If the latter prevails I believe we should at least alter the way people are punished. Right now they are tossed in jail and put on probation. This gives them trouble with their jobs. It takes them away from their family which makes them suffer. If it must remain illegal I think public service is a better means to punish them. Still, punish doesn’t seem like the right word does it? Punish them for being addicted?
Third, we can provide treatment. We are currently spending around $51 Billion annually fighting the war on drugs. It’s estimated that we’ve spent about a trillion dollars total. We haven’t gotten our money’s worth have we? What if we spent that money on treatment instead? Spent it on helping people rather than incarcerating them? That’s all taxpayer money. We should be able to decide where it goes. Why not have it go to help?
Those are just a few ideas.
The issue is complex so I know there are so many more ideas that need to be considered. Please, consider them. Consider that people who use drugs are people. Society likes to label them “druggies” in order to dehumanize them. We call them weak. Say they get what they deserve for doing drugs. At a certain point they can’t help themselves. That’s just how addiction works. Society needs to work differently than it is to help – help. That’s what we need, help.