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May 16, 2009

The War On Drugs

The word came today that the War has ended.  A war that the United States has been engaged in longer than World War I or II.  Longer than the Korean or Vietnam wars and yes longer than the latest quagmire that Iraq has become.  The end of the war was greeted with scant fanfare, no ticker tape parades, no joyous throngs crowding city centers and no banner headlines trumpeting the end of a long and dark national nightmare.   

The War on Drugs was declared in 1969 by President Richard Nixon and for the past 40 years this conflict has affected millions of people across the globe and cost tens of thousands of lives.  Even though hostilities ended this past week hundreds of thousands are still prisoners of this war in jails and correctional institutions all over the world.  The financial cost of prosecuting the war to date has been in the trillions of dollars…..but of course the human toll is incalculable.

This campaign was undertaken by the Government of the United States with assistance of participating countries to reduce the illegal drug trade and curb the supply of substances that were deemed “immoral, harmful or undesirable.”  Other than the inference that those who used or abused illegal substances were they themselves immoral, harmful and undesirable little or no attempt was made to approach addiction as a disease or enhance treatment opportunities for those who suffer from it.  The philosophy that cutting off the supply would reduce the demand was hopelessly flawed from the beginning; consequently the war was doomed from the beginning.   And as we witnessed in Vietnam and Iraq flawed philosophies and policies lead to ineffectual efforts, tragic results and failure.  And the War on Drugs was indeed a colossal failure of money, and the more important, precious human capital it squandered.

So when the new White House Drug Czar announced the end of the War on Drugs this week it was noteworthy that he ushered in a new era of focusing on the treatment of addiction and the sustaining of recovery for those who suffer from the disease.  

Perhaps now we can get on the important work of treating the disease like the public health crisis it is and at the same time begin to address the depressing state of adolescent and adult treatment in America.

May 16, 2009 at 03:16 PM in The Odyssey | Permalink

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Comments

It is better if no war on drugs the best thing to do is fight the illegal drugs. The law enforcers should do things on how to keep our society to become an illegal drug free. Thanks for the post.

-mj-

Posted by: teen drug treatment | May 19, 2009 11:23:20 PM

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