The Failed “War on Drugs” – Let’s Try Treatment On Demand and Fund It
The New York based Drug Policy Alliance (drugpolicy.org) and other sources have provided some important information about our failed drug and alcohol policies. Here are a few astounding facts. The United Stares has about 5% of the world’s population, but it uses approximately 70% of the worlds illicit drug. In Mexico, our drug-users demand may be responsible for the decay of governmental control – the rise of powerful drug cartels. We incarcerate the highest level of people in the world, nearly 25% of the world’s prison population. With the highest incarceration rate in the world, in 2016 we incarcerated 2,205,300 people. Our population, especially the young, appear to have a “death wish” regarding the consumption of mind-altering substances. Are we Americans so, so emotional empty inside and lacking of all capacities for emotion regulation? Why do we need to self-medicate at such dangerous levels? We just experienced a medically-led nation-wide opioid crisis. Our alcohol industry, worse than the losses due to Opioids, lobbies very hard so very little interference occurs in their Big Profit Game. One might suggest the government does not wish to improve the substance-consumption problem. Now we may legalize various uses of marijuana; there are public health consequences here. At this time 33 states allow medical use of marijuana. And, of course we have, vaping! Who profits?
Our current strong addiction to electronic and digital devices is our new epidemic. Addiction to “I-Smart” phones and tablets fuel texting-while-driving, with recent increase in highway deaths and injury. How utterly stupid! We are addicted to these devices (like the nicotine, alcohol, opioid, and vaping problems); the goal of electronic/digital engineers and behavioral psychologists hired by the industry to make sure we never put the device down and stay on it – even when driving. We empty Americans will do almost anything to “connect” to something. Our emotional emptiness and poor self-regulation skills make us vulnerable to unmet emotional needs. We must “feel” connected – because we are NOT. D. W. Winnicott and S. Freud had something to say about these neurotic tendencies of emptiness. So, how many “likes” did you get today? Time to wake up.
- It is estimated that the U.S. government spends approximately $47,000,000,000 a year on the “war on drug.”
- In 2017 1,632,921 Americans were arrested for drug related violations of law. In 2016 the number was 456,000, with 21% due to substance use problems.
- Nearly 660,000 people were arrested in 2017 for marijuana law violations, with about 90% being for simple possession.
- Even if the Black and Latino population makes up less than 32% off our total population, we arrested nearly 47% of those populations in our total drug-related arrests.
- In 2017 72,000 American died from a drug overdose. We are out-of-control!
- It may be possible to obtain $58,000,000,000 in tax revenue from the taxation and control of currently illegal drugs.
- President Barack Obama, William Buckley, Milton Friedman, and Noam Chomsky have publicly noted that our “war on drug” is a total failure.
Here is an idea. Let’s get serious about stopping the total deterioration of our nation due to drug and alcohol addictions. Let’s try complete treatment on demand – and fund it at realistic levels. Hopefully, such a change would include evidence-based interventions and recovery-oriented cooperation. Let’s see what the next administration does about our self-destructing, nation-wide problem.
Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
From the Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont and the Home of The Monkton Sangha
Author of Mindful Happiness