The Current War On Drugs

It’s too late to waste time blaming the victim. Rest assured. Not one single addict ever thought it was going to happen to her. It just did. One drink led to two then three then thousands. Those chemical hooks are waiting in the darkness and when the right offending substance is ingested, they start to close.

By the time noticeable signs of addiction appear, those hooks are fully embedded in the user. Only other chemicals or treatment will release them. It is a fairy tale to ‘Just Say No’ during active abuse.

The 2012 drug economy was over 100 billion dollars. Clearly chemicals are trumping all the ‘Just Say No,’ campaigns that have been shown to U.S. citizens. Addiction and overdose rates are skyrocketing.

Recently, a movement called, ‘Not Even Once,’ kicked off, which is a plan to curb initial heroin use. Some street drugs create instant addiction or kill the naive user.

Maybe the medical community has seen enough death by overdose, organ failure or any of the myriad ways that chemical abuse ends life. It will shift its collective focus to the disease concept of addiction. A list of 12-Step meetings should not be the only option for treatment.

Alcoholics Anonymous is a wonderful success story for 5-10% of the members. For them, it works like a charm and adds meaning to lives. For the other 90-95%, with no other treatment options, the results are typically jails, institutions and death.

Portugal is the only country to show strong success with addiction treatment. The country decriminalized and automatically offered the user treatment if the person was caught with an amount considered ‘for personal use.’ Drug dealers and traffickers are still dealt with as criminals.

In just over a decade, this new program cut usage, illness and drug overdoses by half! All of those new ‘clean’ people are again living and working in society. It took a helping hand, not a legal slap, to enable the addict to stand up. Being locked in a cage and changed mentally and emotionally forever encourages substance abuse.

If we empty the prisons of non-violent drug offenders, HALF of the population would be moved out of facilities and into treatment. Those numbers are staggering-all those citizens and potential locked in cages.

A neurosurgeon can get tripped up by addiction as easily as an indigent person. Chemical hooks don’t care. They arrived at birth with one in ten of us and they are fierce. Passed down through the generations, this disorder was poorly served by keeping it a secret.

Pull up a breast cancer website. It is all pink and pretty with hopeful messages on t-shirts during fun runs. Then, check out some of the drug rehab sites: handcuffs, an empty whiskey bottle and a skull and crossbones. A very different tone. No one was running for their cure. Some of those rehabilitation facilities are just filling beds through fear not hope.

In 2007, a discovery was made by doctors in a study on stroke patients. They found out that an injury to the insula (a section of the brain) would instantly and permanently break a smoking habit.They are now referring to that area as the “Hidden Island of Addiction.” The word ‘Insula’ translates to island.

If the brain holds the addiction, how can chemical or alcohol dependency be a moral issue? “They brought it on themselves.” “Why don’t they just stop?” “Let them reach rock bottom.” These phrases have been repeated ad nauseam.

One in four of Americans is currently suffering from some form of ‘chemical use disorder,’ ‘alcohol abuse disorder,’ or opioid, heroin or methamphetamine misuse. That speaks volumes of the peace in our society. We are a medicated people.

My advice: Focus on the condition of the person prior to use. Address and heal that state of being and the need for self-medication will diminish. We can’t afford to fight this war unsuccessfully.