Though drugs have been recorded to have been used for as long as time has existed by both humans and animals, they are misunderstood by everyone from law enforcement to the general public.
Drugs are seen as sources of destruction by governments worldwide; in reality, the only damage that is being caused is by misinformed drug policies.
These policies lead drug users into being mistreated not only by government officials and law enforcement but also by members of the public that have been indoctrinated by anti-drug propaganda and laws over time. People, as well as the law in most regions of the world, consider drug users as criminals only for choosing to ingest what they want and doing as they please with their time.
In this article, I will go over common misconceptions surrounding the war on drugs and solutions on how to better accommodate drug users as well as any issues drug users and communities may be facing.
Myth: Keeping drug offenders off the streets and in jail prevents violence from occurring.
Fact: Less than 5% of individuals that have been charged and arrested for drug possession have committed acts of violence. Over 90% of individuals that have committed violent crimes were not under the influence of drugs and did not meet the DSM-IV criteria for addiction.
Solution: Blaming drug use as a precursor to violence has evidently not been effective in halting violent actions. Acts of violence can only be prevented by initiating public education events, marketing campaigns, and forums focused on controlling one’s emotions and impulses. Education on improving communication skills can also be effective in preventing and stopping violence.
Myth: Imprisoning drug dealers stops the drug trade by taking the main part of drug distribution away from our communities.
Fact: Drug dealers can be and are very easily replaced by the gangs that hire them. They are a very small part of the large gangs that produce and sell drugs. As with any source of employment, there are individuals gangs have lined up and placed in a hold similar to a waitlist to take the place of any dealer that may be unable to deal due to a number of foreseen circumstances such as arrests and death. Very often drug dealers that have been imprisoned are replaced by younger individuals who can pose as a problem because youth are more likely to act aggressively and commit acts of violence to get what they want out of consumers.
Solution: Employment must be offered more openly to the general public. Internal hiring, the process under which individuals from inside the company and individuals that have a direct relation to an employee are given different positions in preference to others outside of the organization, must be stopped because it takes opportunity away from individuals who are need of gainful employment. Employers should also give individuals with no experience a chance even if as a voluntary employee for a few weeks in order to boost their confidence, teach them new skills, and prevent them from associating with gangs. If a prospective employee does not have experience, employers should hire them based on their merit and work ethics they may have demonstrated in aspects of their lives other than work.
Myth: Drug education programs in schools prevent drug use.
Fact: Drug education programs in schools have not been proven to make any difference in the drug use of youth. Youth have reported having felt no effect from viewing videos against drug use and listening to presenters speak about the dangers of drugs. Some youth have also stated that anti-drug demonstrations have given them ideas as to what to use and how to use it. Youth that have been using substances have also admitted to having tried new substances after seeing them in presentations from police and other community members.
Solution: Drug presentations in schools must be tailored to the needs of the students viewing them. Graphic descriptions and videos of individuals using substances are not necessary as they only educate youth on how to use substances as opposed to scaring them away from drugs. Demonstrations must focus on using drugs safely and responsibly.
Myth: The relentless pursuit against drug users, dealers, and producers saves our world money due to all of the damage that drug users and their dealers and producers cause.
Fact: The war on drugs has only cost taxpayers money from since it was first instated. In Canada for example, it costs $117,000 a year to keep a single prisoner and more than half of prisoners are imprisoned due to drug charges. Drug dealers and producers use their own revenue and resources to produce drugs; users also have their own sources of income to provide for their substances and do not ordinarily rely on or use government aid for drugs.
Solution: Drug possession charges, which account for 83 percent of drug-related arrests, must be dropped and repealed from the law. The money used towards capturing drug users can be better used towards employment, education, and health initiatives to help drug users who may be in need of them.
Myth: Banning substances prevents and deters individuals from using them.
Fact: Drug use has never been deterred from making substances illicit; a driving force for many individuals who venture into trying drugs is rebellion which is enforced by the fact that many drugs are illegal. Many people also try drugs due to curiosity which is amplified by the lack of neutral, candid information on what it’s like to consume drugs. Throughout history, only the legalization of substances has been proven to drop down the usage of substances.
Solution: Drugs must be legalized to stop the causes of rebellion and curiosity from ruling an individual’s decision to try and use drugs; legalizing drugs will also stop the drug trade that is currently ruled by violent and ruthless gangs and cartels by having drug companies produce drugs without purposefully addictive and unsafe additives that are healthier for consumers.
Drugs, whether used recreationally or medicinally, need to stop being seen as taboo and unacceptable by society. What we need to do as a community is educate the public on responsible drug use and promote healthy living. No one should be judged on what they decide to do with their bodies during their own time.