The War on Drugs began back in 1971 under the presidency of Richard Nixon. The idea behind this initiative was to institute harsher punishments for those who distribute and use drugs. While drugs are definitely a major problem in the United States, the War on Drugs has been highly ineffective. One of the main reasons why it hasn’t worked is because it comes from a lack of understanding about addiction.
The War on Drugs and Cancer
The government launched The National Cancer Act during the same year as the War on Drugs, but there are some clear differences. The National Cancer Act helped put stronger efforts into cancer research to help more people. While everyone views cancer as a fatal disease that nobody chooses, many view addiction as a moral failing. Thanks to modern science, we now know that addiction is a legitimate disease as well.
The Surgeon General of the United States stated in late 2016 that addiction is as big of a problem as cancer. He also discussed how addiction is a disease, with scientific evidence to back it up. A disease is an illness that alters a specific organ and has diagnosable symptoms. When it comes to addiction, the disease affects the brain and there are a variety of symptoms for diagnosis.
Why the War on Drugs Isn’t Working
It’s important to understand the potential risk factors that lead a person to substance abuse and addiction. When you understand some of the leading risk factors, you’ll see how incarcerating people can have negative effects. Some of the leading causes of addiction can include:
- Mental illness
- A way to escape reality
A common scenario is when individuals go to prison for a non-violent drug crime, which ends up on their record. Now, with this type of issue popping up on a background check, it can be difficult to find a job. Without being able to find a job, the person can become depressed and begin using drugs again. There are also those who can’t find legitimate work, so they begin selling drugs again to make money. This type of cycle is what the War on Drugs has failed to break.
Another issue with the War on Drugs is that it can be inconsistent in its enforcement and sentencing, especially when drug crimes are predominantly committed by people of color. Research shows that African Americans are more likely to receive longer sentences than white offenders for similar offenses. This is an example of how the War on Drugs is failing to be an effective tool when it comes to potential solutions.
Something that some cities and counties have done to help this issue is creating drug courts. Drug courts give transgressors the option of going to jail or receiving addiction treatment. In areas that offer drug courts, the crime rate is lower, while the recovery rate is higher. This goes to show that many people would stop using drugs if someone provided them with the tools to do so.
Drug courts also provide access to social services, vocational and educational resources, and mental health care for those who qualify. This is a much cheaper alternative than long-term incarceration, which can become extremely expensive for taxpayers due to the need for extra security measures. By providing people with the necessary resources and support systems, drug courts are an effective way of reducing drug-related crime and helping those struggling with addiction move forward in a positive direction.
Addiction Treatment Help From Crestview Recovery
Here at Crestview Recovery, we understand addiction and use the latest in addiction medicine to help our clients. No matter what your history of substance abuse is, we’re here to offer you hope for a better life. We offer a variety of substance abuse treatment programs, including:
- Alcohol addiction treatment
- Fentanyl addiction treatment
- Cocaine addiction treatment
- Opioid addiction treatment
- Meth addiction treatment
It’s not too late to get help fighting your own war on drugs. Give our facility in Portland, Oregon a call today at 866.262.0531 for more information.
Since 2016, Dr. Merle Williamson, a graduate of Oregon Health Sciences University, has been the Medical Director at Crestview Recovery, bringing a rich background in addiction medicine from his time at Hazelden Treatment Center. He oversees outpatient drug and alcohol treatments, providing medical care, setting policies, detox protocols, and quality assurance measures. Before specializing in addiction medicine, he spent 25 years in anesthesiology, serving as Chair of Hospital Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee and Chief of Anesthesia at Kaiser Permanente. This experience gives him a unique perspective on treating prescription drug addiction.