Why Substance Abuse Treatment is More Effective Than The War on Drugs

substance abuse treatment

The War on Drugs was first initiated by President Richard Nixon during the 1970s, and while his intentions were good, the last forty years have shown that this war is being lost. It began with the creation of the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) and a buy/bust system where police would go undercover to purchase drugs from dealers, after which they would arrest them. The drug dealers responded by recruiting minors too young to go to jail to sell the drugs on their behalf, and for the last few decades the two sides have played a complicated chess match which law enforcement can never seem to decisively win.

Why The War On Drugs Is Being Lost

Police officers and detectives during the 1980s and 1990s quickly realized that the buy/bust system only dealt with low hanging fruit; to get to the real source of the problem they had to discover the financial paper trail. While this gave them closer proximity to the supply chain, it also led to the discovery of enablers both within the government, business and even law enforcement. Detectives that got closer to these enablers found their careers jeopardized, and some were even exiled by their own departments.

In other words, the War on Drugs is not succeeding partly because there are powerful enablers within business, law enforcement and the government that have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. They have no intention of actually bringing down the drug trade entirely, and law enforcement officials that attempt it may quickly find themselves ostracized. If the War on Drugs emerged victorious what would happen to agencies such as the DEA and their billion dollar budgets? Trying to control the supply of drugs has proven ineffective, as well as any attempt by law enforcement to discover the real financial source of the problem.

The Key To Victory Is Drug Abuse Prevention And Treatment

The best way to deal with drugs is not through arrests and convictions, but through treatment. The National Institute of Drug Addiction has stated that each dollar used for addiction treatment provides a return on investment which ranges from $4 to $6. It leads to a reduction in crime that is drug related, as well as theft and legal costs. When healthcare is factored into the equation the savings are even more significant.

Drug abuse causes tremendous human suffering. It leads to unemployment, social problems, disability, unwanted pregnancy, violence, generational poverty and death. Responding to it with police, swat teams and drug sniffing dogs only makes the problem worse. Research from the National Institute on Drug Addiction also shows that too many people are not receiving the treatment they need. Estimates from 2011 indicate that only about every 1 in 10 drug addicts are receiving adequate treatment.

First, younger generations must be made aware of the dangers of abusing drugs. They must be taught that not using drugs is a true form of rebellion, against the forces that want to destroy their lives. They must be taught that drugs are not trendy nor are they cool. And many of those that do become addicted would be better off in rehab as opposed to being sent to jail.

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