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A Look at The Global War on Drugs

A Never Ending War

As the “Around the World” news report indicates, the “War on Drugs” has not achieved its anticipated outcome. Drugs, while illegal, continue to be abused by millions, with profound consequences. Violent drug cartels control the drug trade in Latin America, destabilizing communities and destroying lives. A growing movement both in the United States and abroad is pushing for the decriminalization of drugs. However, simply decriminalizing drugs is not necessarily the best solution. A comprehensive, thoughtful approach to drug decriminalization must also address the realities of drug abuse and addiction.

A System Designed to Fail?

The Global War on DrugsFor millions, drug addiction is a disease with profound mental, physical and societal implications. Unfortunately, the current War on Drugs has led to mandatory life sentencing for many repeat drug offenders. Rather than receiving much-needed rehabilitation assistance, these offenders are now serving long sentences in prison – some with no hope of parole.

The threat of jail or other legal consequence is not enough to force an individual to stop abusing drugs. Individuals who are addicted to drugs may want to quit, but sheer willpower is not sufficient. Drug abuse creates physical and psychological dependency. Detoxing from drugs requires medical supervision. As Sam Branson points out in the interview, many individuals who abuse drugs also suffer from co-occurring mental disorders. Psychological counseling and behavioral therapy is essential to helping these individuals overcome their pattern of self-destructive behavior.

A New Approach is in Line

A new approach to the “War on Drugs” is clearly needed both in the United States and around the world. Drug-related criminal violence destroys communities and drug abuse destroys lives. Clearly the current approach must change, but how?

Does legalizing drugs truly address the realities of drug abuse – including the profound damage caused by drug addiction – or does it simply create more opportunities for addiction? How can we most effectively reach those in need of rehabilitation while also reducing overall drug use?