Adjusting from the Mistakes Regarding the War on Drugs

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opiumSlowly but surely, the opinions on drug abuse supply and demand are starting to change in the United States. Decades ago, the country waged war against both the users and the sellers of illegal drugs, but the results of this war have been arguably negligible, at best, and many even feel that it made the drug problem worse.

There are many statistics to back up the idea that the drug war was a failure, such as the increased production of opium poppies in places like Afghanistan, the escalating cartel activity in Mexico, and many other problems. It has been clear that the issue must really be dealt with much more on the demand side of things, by implementing much more effective treatment and prevention strategies. Yes, there should still be some law enforcement activity, but when people stop using drugs, it will not be as lucrative for the cartels and so the supply will also diminish naturally as well as the associated threats.

Understanding where the country went wrong may help to change the growing trends of drug abuse and addiction that now encompasses many prescriptions as well as synthetic substances. Targeting drug users as criminals is likely the first, and possibly biggest, mistake that was made. Many healthcare providers and substance abuse experts agree that drug addiction is an illness that needs to be treated as such, and that treatment can reverse the behavioral and social devastation caused by the drugs and alcohol.

You can’t punish substance abuse out of most people. Incarcerating users typically only makes them better criminals, as our system isn’t set up for rehabilitation. Putting nonviolent drug users behind bars for a long period of time pretty much guarantees that they’ll be using again shortly after their release, if not immediately. Yes, people do need to be held accountable for the crimes they commit while under the influence, but going beyond that or not offering workable treatments only creates more problems.

Mike Loverde

With firsthand experience with addiction, Mike Loverde is now a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP), as accredited by the Association of Intervention Specialists and the Pennsylvania Certification Board. He founded Family First Intervention in 2008 and has since helped hundreds of families find intervention and addiction rehabilitation solutions.

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