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The War on Drugs: Did We Win or Lose?

In 1971, Richard Nixon declared war on the drug problem in the United States. The goal was to cut the supply of drugs coming into the country by increasing federal policing efforts and thus significantly decrease the rate of drug addiction in the US. Clearly, it hasn’t been a success. Drug usage rates and deaths caused by overdose are on the rise – but not necessarily because of incoming substances. Prescription drug abuse and addiction is one of our biggest problems and most addicts source their pills right here in the United States through pharmacies and diverted sources.

Many believe that the billions that have been poured into law enforcement, federal policing, and other costs related to the “war” on drugs – currently $40 billion each year – have been wasted and that the evidence says that the problem is worse than it was in the 1970s. The better choice for those funds? Drug addiction treatment for those who need it.

Here are the facts surrounding the current state of drug use, addiction, and consequences in the United States, according to the Wall Street Journal:

  • The rate of drop out in American high schools is at 25 percent – not among white middle class kids but among Hispanics and black children who live in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. Profit from the drug trade and drug abuse are believed to be a big part of the cause.
  • The number of inmates serving time for drug-related offenses have tripled in the past 30 years from about 330,000 to 1.6 million. About 50 percent of current federal prisoners and 20 percent of state prisoners are convicted of using or selling drugs.
  • Increased rates of incarceration lead to higher prices for the drugs – which may initially be a deterrent for users but only serves to increase the incentive for those who would take the place of incarcerated dealers and expand the business.
  • Constant changes in who is running the drug trade translates into increased violence – at home and around the world. Deaths in Mexico alone that are related to the drug war have increased exponentially: as many as 50,000 people have died since 2006.
  • Prescription drug addiction is still one of the biggest problems in the US and no amount of foreign intervention or federal policing has managed to stem the rising tide of prescription drug overdose deaths.
  • Some say that the focus of funds on the “war on drugs” and paying for incarceration means that less money, research, and time is invested in treating drug addiction and prevention, which means that addiction is allowed to run rampant. Because of this, some say that the “war on drugs” may actually increase addiction rates in the United States.

If you are struggling with dependence upon drugs and alcohol, the only one who can help you get the treatment you need to heal is you. Contact us today at The Orchid to learn more about how we can help you beat drug and alcohol abuse and addiction.

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