It’s unlikely that there is anyone in the US who has not heard of the “War on Drugs.” You hear about it on TV, in the news, and online. There are many different opinions regarding the way this war is being fought and varied views on where we should go from here. However, not everyone who has heard of the war on drugs has a real understanding of what it means. A lot of articles on the subject are misinformed or are simply current events pieces which don’t go into the history of the drug war – a history from which we can learn.
What is the “War on Drugs”?
Reagans in the 80s
President Ronald Reagan made his stamp on the war on drugs in the 80s by increasing the arrests of those possessing, using, and selling drugs. Public concern about drugs had risen quite a bit in the 80s because of crack cocaine’s spread in society. Crack is very addictive, and in the 80s it was becoming more and more popular in the US. Crack also became notorious for its association with gang violence.
Awareness of drug abuse and addiction was raised in the 80s. A poll that asked Americans if they saw drug abuse as the nation’s number one problem changed from 6% in 1985 to 64% in 1989.
Back-and-Forth Bill Clinton
The parts of the drug war
There is a lot of negative press about the War on Drugs. The majority of this news focuses on imprisoning non-violent drug offenders. Many news outlets say that these offenders need rehab – not jail, and sending them to jail is just entering them into a system which they will never leave because they exit the prison system as addicts and will go back to buying and using drugs after they have served their time.
While this is an issue, there are many groups which are actively working to solve this. For example, the National Association of Drug Court Professionals works to help non-violent offenders get onto a strictly monitored rehab program.
Beyond the issue of arresting non-violent drug offenders, there are two other parts of the war on drugs which are not always focused on by the news media. The first is the work done by federal agencies to cut supply in the US.
Drug suppliers come from all over the world: inside the US, Mexico, South America, Eastern Europe, Afghanistan, China – to name a few. Federal agencies work to help stop the drug supply so that there is less of the drug available to drug dealers. The hope of this campaign is to put the drug dealers and suppliers out of business.
Cartels & Smuggling
Cartels and gangs use high-tech tools and equipment to get their drugs past the border. They also use human “mules.” Typically, these are unfortunate people who are struggling economically. The cartel takes advantage of them by paying them to go across the border with about two pounds of drugs on their person – usually in their stomach or in body cavities. Not only do these people (often poor and uneducated) get arrested and imprisoned, they can wind up dead by toxic overdose if the container holding the drugs ruptures while in their bodies.
Catching and shutting down international cartels is part of the war on drugs. Drug laws have also helped police capture gang members and drug dealers within our borders.
Fighting Drug Abuse with Education
The next side of the war on drugs is educating young people, adults, parents, and teachers by giving them the truth about drugs. When people know what drugs to do them, understand why it’s better to seek help than self-medicate with prescription meds or illegal drugs, they can make an informed decision about their future.
Effective drug rehab programs are a part of this modern drug war. By helping addicts through the detox process and aiding them in discovering how to a live a drug-free life, a drug rehabilitation program helps put drug dealers out of business on the home front.
With drug education and effective rehab coming into play in the war on drugs, every American can help fight against abuse, addiction, and drug overdose.