How Should Our Society Deal With People Who Use Drugs?

The war on drugs is a cruel joke. The U.S. spends more than $50 billion a year on the “war on drugs” with the goal of creating a “drug-free society” – yet there has never been a “drug-free society” in the history of civilization. Virtually all of us take drugs every single day. Caffeine, sugar, alcohol, marijuana, Prozac, Ritalin, opiates and nicotine are just some of the substances that Americans use on a regular basis.

Drugs are so popular because people use them for both pleasure and for pain. Drugs can be fun. How many of us enjoy having some drinks and going out dancing? How many of us enjoy a little smoke after a nice dinner with friends? Many people bond with others or find inspiration alone while under the influence of drugs. On the flip side, many people self-medicate to try to ease the pain in their lives. How many have us have had too much to drink to drown our sorrows over a breakup or some other painful event? How many of us smoke cigarettes or take prescription drugs to deal with anxiety or stress? Throughout recorded history, people have inevitably altered their consciousness to fall asleep, wake up, deal with stress, and for creative and spiritual purposes.

The vast majority of Americans agree that the drug war is not working. So how should our society deal with people who use drugs? I propose three simple solutions: 1) Offer treatment and compassion to people who want help for their drug problems; 2) leave people alone who don’t want or need treatment; and 3) continue to hold people responsible for crimes that harm others.

– Read the entire article at AlterNet.

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