I ask you to take a minute to give some thought to the problem of drug and alcohol abuse, and its relationship to the “War on Drugs.” It’s pretty important to us all, directly or indirectly. Go with me on this, and suspend, for a minute, your knee-jerk reaction to the subject (whatever that reaction may be) and try to see the issue as if for the first time. Will you do that?
I have been thinking, and talking, about alcoholics and drug addicts who get sober, and the REASONS a person might have for doing so. I am a sober alcoholic; alcohol is a drug. I believe, therefore, that I am a drug-addict, that the two afflictions are really one and the same.
It took me nine years of struggle, knowing all the while that I was dying, before I finally understood what I needed to do to save my life, and began to take those steps. So far, so good, nineteen months into my new life. (If you are interested in what that process looked like for me, I am happy to share my story. Just ask.)
What I want to point out, after all of this processing of thoughts, is that I have NEVER heard a person say that they got sober (“clean”) because the substance they were addicted to was ILLEGAL. Have you? To my knowledge, no one has ever said: “I now realize (for example) that injecting methamphetamine into my arm is illegal. Therefore, I have decided to take the moral high-road, and quit.”
(I have, however, heard silly stuff like: “I may take too many Vicodin, but I have never taken ILLEGAL drugs.” Or the alcoholic who will say: “yeah, I drink too much, but at least I have never taken DRUGS!” What was that about being constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves…? Just remind me how that goes….)
I did not refrain, when experimenting with things in my youth, from trying any intoxicating substance on the ground that it was illegal. That thought never occurred to me. There were, however, many substances, and methods of consuming substances, that I did not try because I was afraid of what would happen to me, physically and mentally, if I did. Do you know anyone who would have LIKED to try a drug, or a drink, but chose NOT TO because it would have been illegal to do so?
No. People take intoxicants in their adolescence, to fit in, to seem cool, to have fun, to rebel, etc. I used alcohol and drugs as a teen for ALL of these reasons. That it was illegal for me to use these things was no more than an incentive to conceal my using from anyone who might have helped me down the right path, for my own good. Prohibition did nothing to deter me from taking the drugs to begin with.
As adults, many, many people take drugs to self-medicate, where proper medical care is not available, or not affordable, or too humiliating to seek out. Methamphetamine, for instance, does wonders for depression. So does cocaine. Alcohol can assist with sleep and nervous disorders. Opiates and benzodiazepines offer a spurious sense of ease, optimism, calm, and freedom from fear and anxiety. And, of course, we are all well aware of the beneficial effects of marijuana, to treat a wide range of illnesses, physical and mental.
The truth is that, all of these substances have been used, at one time or another, for legitimate medical and/or psychiatric treatment. These are no more dangerous than many drugs currently prescribed by physicians, and a good deal less harmful than many. Take chemotherapy, for instance. That is some ugly, dangerous, harmful, toxic stuff. It is a poison. The hope, as I understand it, is that it kills off the cancer, before it kills off the host. This is only one example among millions. You can think of many yourselves, I am sure. Tylenol will damage your liver; ibuprophen exposes the unprotected lining of your stomach to stomach acid, in addition to being dangerous to your kidneys; and too much of the mineral potassium will stop your heart.
The grocery stores are FULL of items that it is legal to consume, even for children, that have no beneficial effect, not even nutrition, and are potentially deadly. If you doubt me, do some quick research on the effects of diet soda, sweetened with aspartame. For that matter, leave out the aspartame, and the stuff will still rot your teeth, raise your blood pressure, increase your risk of stroke, lower your sperm count by 30%, and contribute to acid reflux, freckles, some forms of acne, stomach ulcer, hemorrhoids, constipation and many other diseases related with digestive system and skin.
These and so many others can be purchased in any stop-and-rob market, by anyone, at any time. So, what is the point of making the medicines, that we commonly call “street drugs” illegal? In what way are they more dangerous, more pernicious, or of greater harm to society than those medicines that can be bought over the counter?
A better question is, with that most dangerous, and least beneficial of ALL drugs, ALCOHOL legal, WHAT GOOD DOES IT DO TO BAN OTHER DRUGS? Can you think of anything at all? I cannot.
As I discussed above, banning the drugs does not deter their initial use by curious people. Banning drugs does not make it easier for addicts to quit. The sole effect of banning drugs is to bring otherwise law-abiding citizens into the legal system, charged with crime.
The ban on drugs, and more particularly the “WAR on Drugs,” make “criminals” out of people who are in need of, (if anything,) help and support. I do not subscribe to the notion that the War on Drugs, has much if anything to do with drugs. My view of this is largely irrelevant to the crucial issue of drug prohibition, so I will not dwell on it much. I merely urge you to notice that, while school shootings are used to justify disregarding the Second Amendment, the War on Drugs is used to justify the erosion of the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments. After all, all is fair in love and War, right?
The ban on drugs has created an entire class of sub-citizens, who are disenfranchised because of drug-related convictions. These de facto former-citizens, having been convicted of felonies, cannot vote. They are not entitled to the protection of the Second Amendment to the Constitution. They cannot find employment, even where that employment has no relation whatsoever to their “crimes.” They must disclose their status as convicted felons, even where their last drug use was years and years ago. They are not entitled to several very important social services, or to receive student financial aid, in some cases. These circumstances continue, not until the individuals stop using drugs and alcohol, or until they are “rehabilitated,” but life-long.
You may say, “well, some of those are only a problem if a person is convicted of possession of drugs for sale.” Sure, but the facts often (and I do mean often) have very little bearing on what crimes the prosecution charges, or what plea they ultimately insist upon, in order to resolve the case short of a trial, with all of the risks attendant to that process. One might well accept a possession for sale charge, in order to take advantage of an offer that guaranteed the “offender” would not go to prison. I did.
Speaking of prison, that people, self-medicating for untreated mental illnesses, or chronic pain, or other conditions, should be in jeopardy of imprisonment, solely for doing what they know how to do to keep themselves able to function, is outrageous. Why should any of us presume the right to tell another what they MUST and MUST NOT do?
When the single-mother of six, who is battling depression, anxiety, diabetes pain and chronic loneliness, and who has no time to go to the doctor, even if she had the money to pay for it, or the means to get there, turns to the use of the same drugs her own mother used to get by, she should not be making a choice that might take her from her own children. If she is prosecuted for drugs, and whatever she had to do to pay for those drugs, she may be dropped into prison, to remain there until long after her own children have taken up drugs to dull the pain of losing their mother.
If we set aside the hypnotic rhetoric we have cut our teeth on, and look objectively at what the War on Drugs has caused in our society, we must (I assert) recognize that prohibition of drugs does NOTHING to prevent, minimize, or correct drug abuse. The ONLY THING that can do this, other than the steps taken by the addict him or herself, is education. Educating our kids, teens and adults about the symptoms of treatable conditions that frequently lead to drug abuse, about the potentially disastrous effects that some drugs can have on the body and mind, and finally, about the EFFECTIVE methods of recovery available to the suffering addict/alcoholic: these WILL make a difference, where nothing else will.
So, who IS served by the prohibition on drugs? A wise man once said, “If you want to know, follow the money.”
The money generated by the War on Drugs is in the pockets of the cops employed to enforce the prohibitions; in the hands of those who train and equip those cops for battle; with the attorneys who prosecute, and those who defend the accused; probation, parole, corrections, and one of the worst offenders out there, when it comes to killing off the addicted: REHABILITATION CENTERS. These programs who will wheedle tens of thousands of dollars out of terrified, heart-broken relatives, prepared to part with their life’s savings in the attempt to rescue their loved one, while the rehab centers taking the loot KNOW THAT THEIR PROGRAM WILL NOT WORK. The success rate of standard 30, 45, 60, 90 day rehab programs is next to nil. The programs know it. But the money is not the only thing lost in these facilities. Also lost during these “spin-dry-s” is the will of the addict/alcoholic to continue to try to recover. They often feel that, if RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT couldn’t save them, then they are beyond redemption. So they quit. And many die, loaded.
But, the justice system and the drug and alcohol treatment system are not the only interest groups driving the War on Drugs. Look too, to the pharmaceutical companies. A population free to research and select the medication (a drug that is legal is not a drug anymore, it is a medication…) that works best for them, is less apt to run to the doctor, and less likely to fill the expensive prescriptions the doctor writes for their condition. No, no, no! The medical and pharmaceutical communities do NOT want you to be able to “prescribe” medication for yourself. YOU are not qualified. Only THEY are qualified. And, if you think for one minute you are going to get away with manufacturing, or growing your OWN medication, you’ve got another thing coming, Bub!
Ok, I am tempted to continue to rant about the graft and corruption rampant within our society, and the fact that our government is nothing but the dangerous pawn of the money-people, worldwide. I am soooo tempted, because I really, really hate it. But the point I want to have made, and which I hope you will take the time to consider and discuss, is that the prohibition of drugs, the “War on Drugs,” and the convoluted mechanisms in place to force addict/alcoholics to “recover,” under threat of legal penalties, is as useless as tits on a boar.
Thanks so much for hearing me out. In doing so, you have exercised your First Amendment rights to speech and association. Now, let’s get to some of that peaceful assembling, and petition the government for the redressing of some greivances!
By the way, in case it lends my remarks any credibility in the eyes of you folks who will continue to see efforts to legalize all drugs as the manipulations of a druggie, there are a fair number of cops who agree with me, if not for all the identical reasons. Have a peek at: http://www.leap.cc/about/why-legalize-drugs/
The foregoing is contrary to everything we have been hypnotized to believe. But, if you will set aside for a moment, all the voices that have ever told you about things, even your own, and just be still, and look at what is going on… I think you will begin to see the problem, and then the solution. It is so important that we do, because people we love are at risk.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.
It is not the constitutional prerogative of the Government to determine needs.
Our whole constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men’s minds.