If drugs are such a bad thing, how come they’re so readily available and easy to attain? And why do we see so many people doing them? The government continue to invest a lot of money into making drug policies and enforcing them, yet drug use has only increased over the last few years.
What are they doing wrong?
Before I continue with this, I must encourage you to watch this short YouTube video I made about this exact issue. I also really recommend you check out Chasing The Scream: The First And Last Days Of The War On Drugs by Johann Hari, as this is where a lot of my information is coming from.
Also, for some more information and some interesting facts and statistics on drug and substance abuse with teens, check out https://www.drugrehab.com/teens/
This will be a two-part story, so check my blog again tomorrow at 7PM BST for my thoughts on addiction!
The government have a “no drugs, no problem” mentality, but this doesn’t work so easily with drugs. Supply and demand is strong evidence to support this theory, as fewer drugs to supply the people will lead to higher prices to match the high demand, but people that buy drugs don’t really care about price, hence the term ‘addiction’. Furthermore, reducing the supply of drugs just makes us want them more, and it many cases, doesn’t actually aid to reduce the demand at all.
Additionally, reducing the supply of drugs will force us to make more drugs illegally in large or small operations, as well as increasing our need to import drugs from other places where laws aren’t so strict, where the drug may even be legal. Over time these drugs become much more potent and they are produced professionally, making it cheaper and easier than ever to get ahold of illegal substances.
On the other hand, drug use has declined a little over the years so the process has worked a little bit. Current methods include banning the chemicals required to manufacture drugs, as well as imprisoning those who are caught with drugs with harsher consequences for those who have drugs with the intention to sell. They have also tightened security at airports or airmail centres in order to prevent drug smuggling before the drugs can even reach the people.
However, there have been some serious consequences as result of enforcing such policies. The immediate impact has seen a sharp rise in drug-related crime, mass incarceration, especially in the US and homicide, which all leads to broken families, depression and a divided nation. In the US for example, it is evident that black people are ten times more likely to get arrested for having drugs than a white person is, fun fact about the US is that despite only having 5% of the global population, they have 25% of all imprisoned beings, whereby 40% of such are considered ethnic minorities.
As drug dealers and cartels don’t follow a democratic judiciary system, it’s obvious as to why most of their disputes are settled by violence and torture. This is clear in Mexico where around 164,000 people died from drug-related incidents between 2007 and 2014, to add a scale to this figure, only about 94,000 people were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined in the same time period.
An alternative policy is harm reduction (from the Four Pillar Drug Strategy – including Prevention, Treatment and Enforcement), which seems to be working wonders in Switzerland. For harm reduction to work effectively, heroine centres have been set up which offer free, good quality heroin and injection rooms with safe, sterile needles for injections. They also have showers, beds and offer supervision and councillors in order to guide those being treated. This is great because now victims can focus on rehabilitation while they invest time and money into getting a job and getting their life together, instead of trying to fund their addiction – over 70% of those treated so far have found jobs and recovered from their addiction.
Harm reduction has worked exceptionally well in Switzerland, where drug-related crime dropped substantially after this policy was implemented in the 1980s. During the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Switzerland, the government had to find a new way of dealing with the huge drug problem, which saw up to 1,000 drug dealers all gather around and meet up in “Needle Park”. In the last 4 decades, the problem is almost completely resolved, while the war on drugs in the US, for example, has seemingly gotten worse. Harm reduction isn’t just about drug policy, however, as sexually transmitted illnesses are also high on the agenda, where we’ve seen various countries like Germany (2002) and New Zealand (2003) legalising prostitution, while many other countries have put a large focus on sex education in schools.
Our current approach to drug addiction is clearly not working and in many cases making the problem worse. Is it time to switch to harm reduction and fix things? Decriminalisation seems to work very well with sex and drug abuse across the world, so why haven’t we caught up yet in the UK?