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Mainstream societal views on drug addicts and addiction. 
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Post Mainstream societal views on drug addicts and addiction.
Does anyone else ever wonder why the "Drug Czar," or the head of the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) is always a cop, and never a former addict in recovery? Does anyone else think that's wrong, or am I the only one?

Call me crazy, but in my mind, drug abuse should be a public health issue, not a criminal one. It should be confronted by trained medical personnel, not cops and jail time.

Unfortunately, years of despicable propaganda have stereotyped drug addicts into these worthless petty criminals who only cause harm to our greater society. It's a fallacy perpetuated all forms of media.

No one seems to ever consider the fact that before their criminalization, most drugs were a commodity, and viewed as such. Like many potentially dangerous commodities, some people can hurt themselves if they don't use said commodity correctly. This logic seems perfectly reasonable for potentially life-ending objects; guns, automobiles, bicycles, skateboards, propane tanks, chain saws, table saws, baseball bats and any other handful of things that could be very dangerous, if used incorrectly. However, because of how warped the general public's attitudes towards drugs has become, it seems this reasonable line of thinking doesn't include them.

They never teach people who are curious to experiment how to be safe about it. They only teach abstinence, not responsible use. It seems the concept of damage control is lost on these people, despite 70 years of proof that there is literally a 0% possibility of drug use being completely eradicated, or even discouraged.

It also boggles my mind that when some drug addicted celebrity like Whitney Houston kicks the bucket, it's a tragedy. But if you hear about a homeless crack addict who's body was discovered in a subway station, people snicker and say "good riddance."

One of the most egregious and sad things I find about this whole thing is how problems prohibition itself has created get blamed on drug addiction. Pro-prohibitionists want you to buy into hyperbole that drug addicts are menaces to society; they take drugs and then wreak havoc in a high craze. In actuality, 90% of the time when a drug addict commits a crime, it is because they are sober and have no money to buy their fix. Thus, they break into your car and jack your radio (ok, maybe a little 80's/90's, but you get the idea). Inflation is a side effect of prohibition, along with increased drug use, thousands of detrimental and unnecessary set backs for young adults (mostly hispanic and african american males below the age of 25, for what that shows...), and even more thousands upon thousands of deaths in cartel-related violence.

I really think these issues won't reach any kind of actual solution until society begins to view addicts as they are; people who need medical treatment, not criminals who need jail time.

I think most people know about the ridiculous increase in the amount of incarcerations in the United States beginning sometime in the 80's. A very, VERY significant number of those incarcerated are NON-VIOLENT drug offenders. So our tax dollars and police resources are being used to lock up people who should be getting treatment, instead of using those resources to track down serial killers and rapists. Heaven forbid we use those resources to give the addicts TREATMENT so they can become contributing members of society again...

One need only look at a side by side comparison of drug use between the Netherlands and the U.S.... Per capita, they have a fraction of the amount of "hardcore drug" (i.e. things beyond marijuana and alcohol. think cocaine, heroin) that we do in this country, despite it being legal to buy cannabis in designated locations and programs in place that give heroin addicts a free heroin until they are waned off.

Other countries that have had success with decriminalization include Spain and Portugal.

Is there any hope, or is the sensationalized view on drugs still too embedded in the general public's psyche?


Thu Feb 16, 2012 11:24 am
Post Re: Mainstream societal views on drug addicts and addiction.
I think you make some decent points. But I do take issue with this:

Timmy Shoes wrote:
some people can hurt themselves if they don't use said commodity correctly. This logic seems perfectly reasonable for potentially life-ending objects; guns, automobiles, bicycles, skateboards, propane tanks, chain saws, table saws, baseball bats and any other handful of things that could be very dangerous, if used incorrectly


The problem with that comparasin is that everything that you mentioned except drugs have a useful purpose when used correctly. Yes, they're all dangerous when used improperly, as are many items you didn't mention. But when used correctly, they're useful, and everything you mentioned is used correctly the vast majority of the time. They tend to add usefulness or ease or healthy enhancement to the lives of those using them.

With drugs, it's quite different. I fail to see the usefulness. That's not me condemning them, and I realize that some do find some drugs useful as a creativity enhancer (which I find to be a bit weak as an argument, but it can be made). But the usefulness stops there, and the percentage who misuse them in unhealthy ways is far greater than those who intentionally misuse care or bikes or propane tanks or chainsaws. So I don't find it logical to make the point you make there, although again I do agree with some of your overall points.


Thu Feb 16, 2012 4:11 pm
Post Re: Mainstream societal views on drug addicts and addiction.
Will create more robust response later, but I'll start with this:

The usefulness of drugs doesn't have to be justified. "We made it illegal because it wasn't useful" shouldn't be part of the American vocabulary.


Thu Feb 16, 2012 5:21 pm
Post Re: Mainstream societal views on drug addicts and addiction.
Ken wrote:
The usefulness of drugs doesn't have to be justified. "We made it illegal because it wasn't useful" shouldn't be part of the American vocabulary.


I never said it should be. I don't think it has to be justified to make a good argument for legalization. But to compare it to things that are inherently useful is the wrong approach to make that argument and requires that justification to be made, which was my point in response to Timmy's as to why it's a poor way to argue for drug legalization.

Again, I think the American judicial system's approach to drugs is off-base in every way, whatever the intentions. If we're just talking weed, I think few would disagree about how that should be handled. But legalizing (for example) meth doesn't solve any real problems either.


Thu Feb 16, 2012 6:19 pm
Post Re: Mainstream societal views on drug addicts and addiction.
Now that I've had a little more time to digest...

I have read recently that the U.S. has (proportionally) the highest prison population in the world. A disproportionately high percentage of that population is non-violent, drug-related, and black. It goes to show that the law isn't the same thing as right and wrong, and criminality is determined by how you define it.

As for Whitney Houston, the mass media narrative has settled on "tragedy", but there are plenty of e-cranks claiming that she deserved what she got for being an addict, which might be every bit as telling as people's reactions to the plight of homeless drug addicts.

I think a lot of that stems from ignorance of the nature of physical addiction. The rationality is that drug use is optional, therefore people who don't stop simply haven't tried hard enough to stop and therefore deserve what they get. Whenever I run into this mentality, I point people toward this Layne Stayley quote, from the last interview before he died:

Quote:
This fucking drug use is like the insulin a diabetic needs to survive... I'm not using drugs to get high like many people think. I know I made a big mistake when I started using this shit. It's a very difficult thing to explain. My liver is not functioning and I'm throwing up all the time and shitting my pants. The pain is more than you can handle. It's the worst pain in the world. Dope sick hurts the entire body...

I know I'm near death... I did crack and heroin for years. I never wanted to end my life this way. I know I have no chance. It's too late. I never wanted their thumbs' up about this fucking drug use. Don't try to contact any AIC members. They are not my friends.


Thu Feb 16, 2012 9:54 pm
Post Re: Mainstream societal views on drug addicts and addiction.
You know what bugs me about the term 'substance abuse'? The substance is fine - YOU'RE the one whose arm degenerates into a purple stick of goo that gets lopped off and thrown in the Biohazard dumpster . The drugs and alcohol will be ok - so leave them be. Thank you, world.


Sat Feb 18, 2012 2:37 pm
Post Re: Mainstream societal views on drug addicts and addiction.
Shade wrote:
Ken wrote:
The usefulness of drugs doesn't have to be justified. "We made it illegal because it wasn't useful" shouldn't be part of the American vocabulary.


I never said it should be. I don't think it has to be justified to make a good argument for legalization. But to compare it to things that are inherently useful is the wrong approach to make that argument and requires that justification to be made, which was my point in response to Timmy's as to why it's a poor way to argue for drug legalization.

Again, I think the American judicial system's approach to drugs is off-base in every way, whatever the intentions. If we're just talking weed, I think few would disagree about how that should be handled. But legalizing (for example) meth doesn't solve any real problems either.


There's no right or wrong answer in terms of "justifying" recreational drug use. I'd argue that their usefulness has been undermined as a whole due to the shift in attitudes towards them. As far as the "creativity enhancer," I'd say one need only look at the revelation of jazz music, but I think it goes beyond that. You have to consider drugs from all aspects: social, creative, medical, spiritual (and I believe that last one to be the most important). If your still not sold, just go listen to some Bill Hicks recordings. However, my stance is just as legitimate as someone who believes we as a species don't need to use drugs recreationally at all (from a medical standpoint, saying we don't need drugs at all would be just silly). In my opinion, drugs are tools that when used correctly can offer great experiences. I also believe that like many other tools, if they are used incorrectly can be extremely dangerous. But like Ken said, justifying their usefulness shouldn't be part of the equation.

I agree that making it so you could buy meth in a pharmacy or liquor store wouldn't solve anything. But imagine a system in place where addicts could receive a pure, untainted product, in controlled doses, in a medical setting where the individual would be surrounded by people who are trying to help them overcome their addiction.

My friend told me that in his book, Keith Richards said something along the lines of "you can't do drugs nowadays the way I used too back then. Too much tampering."

Yet another side effect of prohibition. If you buy an 8 ball of coke on the street, you'd be lucky if it's 30% cocaine, and even luckier if the other 70% isn't some sort of toxic powder that the dealer cut it with to increase their profits. If it was decriminalized and regulated, these things could be controlled.

Ken wrote:
It goes to show that the law isn't the same thing as right and wrong, and criminality is determined by how you define it.


This is an unfortunate reality that most people don't seem to realize.

Evenflow8112 wrote:
You know what bugs me about the term 'substance abuse'? The substance is fine - YOU'RE the one whose arm degenerates into a purple stick of goo that gets lopped off and thrown in the Biohazard dumpster . The drugs and alcohol will be ok - so leave them be. Thank you, world.


I also dislike the term. They seem to throw it out at ANYONE who uses drugs. There is a distinct difference between abusing drugs and using them responsibly. Unfortunately, it seems our government thinks we are incapable of the latter.


Tue Feb 21, 2012 5:22 pm
Post Re: Mainstream societal views on drug addicts and addiction.
I find your argument quite compelling.
I have been watching Penn and Teller. They have a great episode on the war on drugs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_aEcA71yg8

They make good arguments that drugs should be legalized.
For example, if you legalize the drugs then you remove the criminal element that surrounds them.
Also by legalizing them they can be regulated and made safer.
And I haven't even mentioned the medical benefits that have been lost because drugs like cannabis are not developed.


Tue Feb 21, 2012 6:04 pm
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