A new Hazelden survey showed that over 8 out of 10 people sampled said first-time drug offenders should go to treatment and not prison. It also showed that 79% of those polled that the War on Drugs was a failure. However, this survey was a small sampling-- it only reviewed the opinions of 1,000 people. The opinions do represent a step in the right direction. It seems the stigma is getting washed off at least a little bit, that the general public can recognize that addicts need treatment and not jail.
For a history of the War on Drugs, check this out. NPR lays out a brief history, starting, of course, with Nixon declaring war on drugs in the early 70s do to a rising in arrests for both street crime and drug possession. In 1994, there were reports that the War on Drugs was responsible for putting 1 million people behind bars per year. In the 80s, with Reagan's policies around drugs kicking in, arrests for general crime rose 28%, while drug related arrests rose 126%. That's a huge, huge jump. And by not diverting people arrested for drug possession to treatment, we create a toxic prison environment soaked in drugs and more crime, as well as high recidivism rates.
How do we fix it? Support the Wellstone act. Vote for measures that allow tax dollars to be put towards treatment. For those of you who are more worried about what pubic services your tax dollars fund, push for those that support rehabilitation, as that will put more money back in the private secotr in the long run, as people who get adequate rehabilitation instead of a prison term are more likely to become productive citizens.
For folks who do a great job advocating recovery, click here, here, or here.
Here's a breakdown of the economic factors that addiction causes:
And here's Bill Maher's take on the war on drugs:
For something funny, click here.
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