Treatment & Education is the Greatest Fight on War Against Drugs
Since the early 1970s, the War on Drugs has officially cost American taxpayers more than a trillion dollars! It is estimated that as many as two percent of the entire United States population is in prison and many of them are service sentences for drug related offenses. Still thousands more have died as a result of their addiction, their drug use, the trafficking of drugs or as a result of their will to fight the War Against Drugs. Today, the street value of a gram of cocaine is nearly 75% less than it was in 1980 which means that users are able to get this drug far easier and for much less than they once could.
It appears that the War on Drugs hasn’t been much of a war at all—it’s been a total defeat! Law enforcement, the DEA and other agencies have worked so hard to fight this War and yet the problem has simply grown ten-fold. Marijuana legalization continues to appear on ballots across the country, and political change on various issues pertaining to drug policy is slow as usual. Slowly but surely, the focus is shifting more in the direction of making treatment for addiction readily available and providing greater education on the dangers of drug abuse.
President Obama and his Administration has developed policy that includes federal funding for things like needle exchange programs that will reduce the number of dirty needles being used for drug abuse and more funding on programs that promote work in the prison systems to help prevent those who have been sentenced from being or feeling like they must sell drugs to survive when they get out of prison. There is even the Fair Sentencing Act which will reduces disparities in sentencing for crack related offenses. There are even plans to begin placing drug offenders who are charged with nonviolent offenses into rehab programs rather than sentence them to prison.
What are We Learning Here?
We are beginning to learn that we must take steps to prevent drug abuse and we must take steps to provide treatment for drug addiction rather than focus so much on the War on Drugs itself. American’s have been pursuing a policy of fighting drug abuse in all the wrong ways but that doesn’t have to be the case anymore. Through other countries such as Europe, which have used very different approaches to fighting their War on Drugs, we have learned that the best way to fight drug abuse and drug addiction is to promote education and rehabilitation and make treatment available to those who need it.
For too long, treatment for addiction has been overpriced and not so readily available. Millions of people who need treatment are turned down as a result of an inability to pay or because there is no space available in the treatment facility. These same people tend to go right back to using drugs, trafficking drugs and committing crimes related to their drug abuse.
Though we are still a very long way from great political change, focus is shifting toward treatment and toward education and that’s a start. Fortunately, the treatment industry has become a very effective tool, providing treatment for millions of Americans and not just providing treatment, but providing education to our society. Addiction is a dangerous disease, it affects the entire society as a whole and breaks apart families and relationships but there is help! With changes and healthcare reform that will take place in 2014, treatment will become more readily available for those who are suffering from this terrible disease. It’s just one step in the right direction in fighting the War Against Drugs!