Along with addiction recovery resources, some of the most important information in a “Smart On Drugs Policy” is knowing what you are up against when fighting drug addiction and substance abuse.
The main aspect of any “Smart On Drugs Policy” , besides drug addiction recovery, is one geared toward harm reduction and evaluating drug addiction for what it really is. Harm reduction as it pertains to substance abuse is a vastly different issue than the harm reduction of toy manufacturers who put safety information on their products to make sure children do not get hurt. Granted, nobody wishes to see a child become hurt or injured, but the harm reduction to combat drug addiction goes across many depths and several levels of Smart On Drugs Policy to help individuals reach addiction recovery. When it comes to drug addiction, harm reduction, and substance abuse recovery, it is not only children lives or our lives that are at stake, but the lives, spirituality, and chance for a future of a Smart On Drugs Policy approach.
Important Information About Drug Addiction
1. Basics About Drug Addiction & General Information
In America, often called the land of the free, there are an almost unbelievable number of people suffering from drug addiction and substance abuse. As of 2013, during a survey performed by DrugAbuse.gov, 64.9% of high school students admit to using alcohol within the past 30 days, 25.4% smoked cigarettes, and an astounding 44.9% confessed to have used illicit drugs during the past 30 days. Within the past year, 28.2% of high school seniors say they have abused a pharmaceutical medication and 54.3% to having used other illicit drugs. Keep in mind, this survey does not include all drugs or alcohol. These initial numbers are to put into perspective of how serious drug addiction and substance abuse really is, and how we quickly need a harm reduction approach to drugs. In the United States, it is estimated that ONE IN EVERY TEN Americans that are 12 years and older have some kind of drug addiction or substance abuse dependency. With a population of people going through drug addiction that could rival Texas and its population as a state, harm reduction for drug addiction is the best approach.
What Is The Cause Of Drug Addiction?
Anyone going through drug addiction or that knows someone having issues with substance abuse will be sure to ask themselves this question. Why did I have to lose my son, husband, wife, daughter, etc. to drugs and drug addiction? It is a normal question to ask and is a normal part of the journey to understanding drug addiction and substance abuse. There is no easy or 100% conclusive answer. Seeking such a definitive answer concerning drug addiction and substance abuse will stop any attempt at harm reduction or recovery for people going through substance abuse.
How can seeking a complete answer stop the idea of harm reduction or recovery?
It is simple. The science behind the cause of addiction is still in its infancy. While people hope for an answer that extends to each individual experiencing drug addiction and substance abuse, they are not likely to get one. In the United States about 80% of adolescent youth will try some kind of drug, but only 10% are likely to become addicted to them. While sociological factors such as poverty and psychological disorders/ mental illness contribute for an individual to be susceptible to drug addiction, it is the biological aspect when mixed with the other two that perhaps has the greatest impact.
A combination of biological, sociological, and psychological factors mix and create the perfect storm for the one in ten Americans that become dependent on drugs and regular substance abusers. Even so, this is not the case for every person that ends up going through drug addiction. What about the people who have no genetic, sociological, or psychological basis to experience substance abuse?
Once again, addiction is an incomplete science. With the current world stance on drugs we need to stop wasting time asking why people become addicted to drugs, and start asking the right question of what can we do to reduce the harm that drugs create in situations of substance abuse for the individual, society, and truly for the children of our generation and those to come.
Why Has The Current Approach To Drug Addiction Failed?
The current approach to drug addiction, the War On Drugs, has been nothing short of a worldwide failure. Over 40 years since drugs were first declared “public enemy number one”, the number one enemy of the United States still remains at large. However, the War On Drugs policy goes back further than 40 years, it can actually be traced almost 100 years back with the Harrison Narcotics Act. During this time, America, nor the rest of the world, have learned anything about the outcome of prohibitive drug addiction polices. For example, when alcohol was banned in 1920, it only created a dark, shady underworld in what was originally a controlled market.
However, despite witnessing the rise of gangsters Al Capone and numerous other mobsters the United States tried nothing new. Instead, much like a person just coming into recovery, they denied that prohibition was the problem. When people within the grips of drug addiction experience something they do not like nor understand, they will often create an alternate reality or delusion in which their world remains intact. This is exactly what the United States Federal Government did with the creation of new agencies, new laws, and new propaganda, they were in denial that alcohol prohibition (or drug prohibition for that matter) had created so many of the problems that were to be found in society then and still are found in our society today.
In the United States, there exists an estimated 14,500 drug rehabilitation centers providing counseling services, behavioral management therapy, medication, case management, and other services that are commonly used to treat substance abuse. Now check out this stat: Compared to all other countries, America has the highest incarceration rates of its own population and currently has more prisoners than high school teachers. Most of these prisoners, 86% in federal prison, committed what is known as a “victim-less crime”. What this means is that nobody was directly harmed or injured due to their crime. Out of the 86%, 50.7% were victim-less crimes related to drugs.
If you are locking away the largest portion of a problem and virtually denying its existence, what do you think is going to happen? The attitude toward drug addiction from a War On Drugs framework was doomed to fail.
- It denies the existence of the drug addiction and substance abuse problem.
- The War On Drugs is counter-intuitive towards crime because it places non-violent individuals around violent hardened criminals.
- Did not learn from the experiment of alcohol prohibition to create a smart on drugs policy before the chaos of the War On Drugs escalated.
- Counter-productive at decreasing amount or purity of drugs.
- It is a war that cannot be won. The War On Drugs was doomed to fail because it is based in the same attitudes of someone going through substance abuse: Denial, urgency to control due to a loss of power, and unthinkable consequences as a result of their decision.
NIDA. (January 2014) “Monitoring The Future 2013 Survey Results”, Retrieved from: http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/monitoring-future-2013-survey-results
David Sheff, New York Times. ( April 19,2013) “A Disease Not A Crime: Clean”, Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/21/books/review/clean-by-david-sheff.html?_r=0
NIDA. (December 2013) ” Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research Based Guide 3rd Edition”, Retrieved from: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/drug-addiction-treatment-in-united-states