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An epidemic of drugs…

The war on drugs…

Emotive phrases like these, echoed in the media and by our politicians, capture the deep rooted concerns and fears about drug or substance abuse in our society. It is almost as if we consider addiction to drugs to be an evil, uncontrollable force stalking the land, looking for prey, especially amongst our youth. A force which must be met with force, with extreme measures of desperation.

Organizations which manufacture and distribute illegal drugs certainly are a force, at least in the economic sense, and often in a localized military context as well (as in Colombia and Mexico in recent history.) But it has been pointed out by many that these organizations will continue to exist only so long as there is a demand for drugs. The controversial topic of how the profit making of drug dealing leads to other criminal activity will be discussed later in the book. For now, here, let’s talk about drugs as drugs.

Drugs in themselves are neither good nor evil. Really, we do not have a drug problem. We have a people problem. On their own, drugs do nothing. They sit innocently in little packets or bottles. They are dangerous the same way drain cleaner and rat poison and a thousand other chemical substances in our society are dangerous. The main risk and harm of these substance stems solely from the way people use drugs, the way these chemicals affect the mind and perceptions, the way people can come to need them desperately.

The truth is that we are a society hooked on drugs. Illegal drugs are only one part of the broader picture. If substance abuse in our society is going to dramatically decline, if the devastation caused by drug abuse is going to be arrested, we need to rethink our whole view of drugs — all drugs. We must have a much clearer appreciation of how widespread substance abuse and addiction comes about.

We must better understand why we are a society on drugs.

By Clark Carr

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