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Drug policy should focus on helping addicts, not jailing them
The Baltimore Sun ^ | June 28, 2006 | Taylor W. Buley

Posted on 07/04/2006 5:20:13 PM PDT by neverdem

Two years ago, my 23-year-old brother became addicted to painkillers after breaking his leg and undergoing several operations to repair it.

Last year, while he was checking into rehab for abusing OxyContin, I was drafting a chapter in my new book calling for drug legalization. It was a difficult moment to believe in individual liberty: I felt firsthand the effects of what it's like when people make bad decisions. I saw how hard my brother struggled to get clean, first moving forward and then backsliding again into substance abuse.

One of the more compelling arguments for the war on drugs is that if we allow people to freely buy and use all sorts of currently illegal drugs, some people will end up becoming addicted when they otherwise would have been deterred by criminal penalties.

This, however, is a false choice: It ignores the fact that many people are - as my brother was before treatment - already addicted to harmful substances. Local, state and federal governments directly spend more than $40 billion a year on what's typically called the war on drugs.

Virtually all of that money is spent on trying to interdict drugs as they enter the country or arresting drug users and drug sellers. Our current aim of preventing people from becoming addicted to harmful substances misses the mark.

A better focus - and one that would eliminate the violence and crime associated with black markets and reduce the social harms of addiction - would be to ask: What's the best way we can encourage people who have drug problems to seek treatment?

Baltimore has been a prime example of how successful we can be when we stop worrying about drug abuse and start worrying about drug abusers.

In 1999, Baltimore and the Maryland General Assembly began a...

(Excerpt) Read more at baltimoresun.com ...


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; News/Current Events; US: District of Columbia; US: Maryland
KEYWORDS: addiction; drugskilledbelushi; leroyknowshisrights; liberty; waronsomedrugs; wod; wodlist; wosd
Happy Fourth of July!
1 posted on 07/04/2006 5:20:16 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: neverdem
I agree. Treat them first but make sure if they don't clean up their lives, they go straight to jail.

(The Palestinian terrorist regime is the crisis and Israel's fist is the answer.)

2 posted on 07/04/2006 5:23:45 PM PDT by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives On In My Heart Forever)
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To: neverdem

Why do we owe this to anyone?

Drug addicts should be helping me, I feel. When I mess up, they should bail me out. That sounds fair.


3 posted on 07/04/2006 5:24:38 PM PDT by SteveMcKing
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To: neverdem

"It ignores the fact that many people are - as my brother was before treatment - already addicted to harmful substances."

This is confusing, was his brother ALREADY a drug addict, before he had the leg problem? Or does he mean the rehab cured him?


4 posted on 07/04/2006 5:26:43 PM PDT by jocon307 (The Silent Majority - silent no longer)
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To: neverdem

The failed war on some drugs is a farce.


5 posted on 07/04/2006 5:28:50 PM PDT by mysterio
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To: SteveMcKing

There is a difference between someone who gets hooked while using illegal drugs recreationally and one who becomes addicted to prescription medicine while recovering from a medical injury, espeically if the firm which produced the drug didn't warn that it could be addictive.


6 posted on 07/04/2006 5:28:52 PM PDT by Clintonfatigued (Illegal aliens commit crimes that Americans won't commit)
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To: goldstategop

I'd go so far as to allow 10,000 addicts to kill themselves with as many drugs as possible rather then seeing 1 more pre-dawn no-knock raid on the wrong house by an out of control para-military civilian police force searching for a bag of weed.


7 posted on 07/04/2006 5:35:11 PM PDT by JoeSixPack1
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To: JoeSixPack1
"What's the best way we can encourage people who have drug problems to seek treatment?"

It's like "encouraging" a bear not to **** in the woods. It's madness, classic victimology to apologize for drug users.

8 posted on 07/04/2006 5:39:11 PM PDT by SteveMcKing
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To: JoeSixPack1

Plus its a program that lines the pockets of organized crime.


9 posted on 07/04/2006 5:45:31 PM PDT by spanalot
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To: jocon307
This is confusing, was his brother ALREADY a drug addict, before he had the leg problem? Or does he mean the rehab cured him?
That's what every drug researcher and addictions treatment person is gonna tell you. In theory, there's a one in ten chance that anyone is addicted to something... just blind luck that most of us never find out what it is. And, a person with one type of addiction is likely to have others. It's why alcoholics also avoid narcotics, and narcotics addicts don't drink.
10 posted on 07/04/2006 5:47:23 PM PDT by rpgdfmx
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To: jocon307
This is confusing, was his brother ALREADY a drug addict, before he had the leg problem? Or does he mean the rehab cured him?

"Two years ago, my 23-year-old brother became addicted to painkillers after breaking his leg and undergoing several operations to repair it."

--snip--

"It may have taken several bad decisions and two rounds of rehab, but today my brother knows more about personal responsibility..."

He became addicted after the injury. He needed two courses of rehab because he relapsed after the first.

11 posted on 07/04/2006 5:58:12 PM PDT by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: neverdem

relapsed

yeh.

He decided to take the stuff again. Using "relapse" or even "slip" attempts to avoid personal responsibility......"relapses" are addicting, too, as is a poor little victim type sponsor or therapist.


12 posted on 07/04/2006 6:10:48 PM PDT by Vn_survivor_67-68
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To: Clintonfatigued
There is a difference between someone who gets hooked while using illegal drugs recreationally and one who becomes addicted to prescription medicine

Both individuals have used a drug illegally to their detriment.

I see no reason to draw lines of demarcation.

Each should be offered treatment before jail time.

13 posted on 07/04/2006 6:15:47 PM PDT by vikzilla
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To: vikzilla

I agree completely.

Treat them both the same. They are actually the same people, just at different places in their addiction.


14 posted on 07/04/2006 6:23:18 PM PDT by i_dont_chat (Southwest Houston, TX)
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To: neverdem
Government tends to get more of whatever it subsidizes.

If you make addicts' landings soft and charge the costs to the taxpayer, you should not be surprised if you see more addicts and more frequent relapses.

15 posted on 07/04/2006 6:27:41 PM PDT by JCEccles
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To: SteveMcKing

I would make a deal with drug addicts....The government will leave you alone to do your drugs.... but they will not chase you down to put you into rehab.


16 posted on 07/04/2006 6:38:51 PM PDT by markoman (The man with the rubber glove was....surprisingly gentle.)
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To: JCEccles
If you make addicts' landings soft and charge the costs to the taxpayer, you should not be surprised if you see more addicts and more frequent relapses.

Yea, well, that would matter, if the cost of being addicted were actually significant, in a legalized regime, such as occured in the US between the Civil War and World War I.

17 posted on 07/04/2006 6:52:07 PM PDT by donh (U)
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To: All
Let's face the fact that as a society, we will be dealing with this problem till Kingdom come.

The best we can do is look for a comfortable middle ground. By comfortable, I mean a balance of:

education of the hazards of drugs for our youth

lowest cost and danger to our citizens as a whole

respect of individual freedom and personal responsibility

We are not going to completely eliminate drug abuse.

Seems to me the magic formula for this problem as with most other social problems is to make the problem more of a pain to the addict than it is to society. (a take on the personal responsibility angle)

18 posted on 07/04/2006 7:17:52 PM PDT by winston2 (In matters of necessity let there be unity, in matters of doubt liberty, and in all things charity:-)
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To: JoeSixPack1
I'd go so far as to allow 10,000 addicts to kill themselves with as many drugs as possible rather then seeing 1 more pre-dawn no-knock raid on the wrong house by an out of control para-military civilian police force searching for a bag of weed.

Amen!

The War On Drugs has become a cancer on America.

19 posted on 07/04/2006 7:28:40 PM PDT by LPM1888 ("If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy")
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To: LPM1888

I think child molesters should be rehabilitated, too, rather than thrown in jail or constantly tracked down like a North Korea missile.

The war on perverts has become a cancer on America.

/sarcasm


20 posted on 07/04/2006 8:52:11 PM PDT by abercrombie_guy_38
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To: neverdem

Pot absolutely should be legal. It is ridiculous to criminalize it - it would be a lot more effective for pain that prescription drug addictions. We're spending too much money on this war on drugs - we should get rid of it.


21 posted on 07/04/2006 9:16:06 PM PDT by greccogirl
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To: neverdem

Drug policy should focus on helping addicts, not jailing them (unless they're Republicans).


22 posted on 07/04/2006 9:18:53 PM PDT by perfect stranger (I need new glasses.)
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To: neverdem

No way. To treat an addict rather than jail would be the humanitarian thing to do. Humanitarian responses are reserved for palestinian terrorists and parts of africa.

go figure


23 posted on 07/04/2006 9:23:18 PM PDT by takenoprisoner (Sorry Mr. Jefferson, we forfeited the God given rights you all put to pen. We have no excuse.)
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To: neverdem

Leave it to the Baltimore Sun to come up with meaningless tripe about how to deal with crimes related to addiction.

Answer is simple. Deal with both issues at the same time. Jail the offender and require (force) them to attend recovery meetings/programs while they're incarcerated. Happens all the time. It'll either be "a take" or it won't. Just like what happens in "real life."

There's a very old adage that contains more wisdom than any of the words written by so-called addiction specialists, and it's quite simple. Most good answers are. Here tis:
"Sobriety isn't for people who need it, it's for people who want it." That's a wrap, folks. Case closed.


24 posted on 07/04/2006 9:28:01 PM PDT by Rightfootforward
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To: LPM1888
The War On Drugs has become a cancer on America.

And the addiction to crack, coke, meth, etc......isn't?

25 posted on 07/05/2006 8:44:45 AM PDT by AxelPaulsenJr (Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.)
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To: neverdem

Jailing users of drugs is a huge waste of resources. I can understand jailing the sellers...kind of like jailing people who produce moonshine...it's a licnensing and commerce issue. How about we fine them...just like speeders.


26 posted on 07/05/2006 1:45:05 PM PDT by Katya (Homo Nosce Te Ipsum)
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To: AxelPaulsenJr
And the addiction to crack, coke, meth, etc......isn't?

What would you propose to do that hasn't been tried already? If it's just more of the same, that's not cutting it.

27 posted on 07/05/2006 3:29:43 PM PDT by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: neverdem
What would you propose to do that hasn't been tried already? If it's just more of the same, that's not cutting it.

Are you saying legalize crack, cocaine, meth, pcp, lsd, etc? While we are at it, lets just do away with the entire judicial code, people ignore the laws anyway don't they?

28 posted on 07/06/2006 6:34:00 AM PDT by AxelPaulsenJr (Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.)
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To: AxelPaulsenJr
Are you saying legalize crack, cocaine, meth, pcp, lsd, etc? While we are at it, lets just do away with the entire judicial code, people ignore the laws anyway don't they?

As I wrote: "What would you propose to do that hasn't been tried already? If it's just more of the same, that's not cutting it."

I wouldn't write off the entire judicial code, just those parts that generate profits for organized crime, generate funds for our islamofascist enemies, create more hostility and foreign policy dilemmas from Afghanistan to Bolivia, with many countries in between, corrupt law enforcement and cause less respect for our Constitution with the rights that it is supposed to guarantee.

IMHO, if there was ever a fools errand, it's the war on drugs as it is currently constituted. It was promoting a nanny/police state even before September 11, 2001. It has corrupted enough branches of government, if not all of them, so thoroughly that physicians are now brought to court if they are arbitrarily deemed to prescribe too little or too much. The DEA now de facto practices medicine.

The current arrangement that permits law enforcement to do almost anything it wants to, especially because it's for the children, is nothing more than the alcohol prohibition on steroids and exponentially worse. It's a law enforcement full employment program with unconstitutional property seizures without due process and a simultaneous war on guns.

The discussion has become so distorted that folks can't see the forest for the trees. It's generally recognized that the prohibition of coca and opium led to the black market distribution of the more expensive and concentrated derivatives, i.e. cocaine and heroin. Hallucinogens were also available naturally. Chemistry is here to stay. All other things being equal including criminal penalties, criminals tend to maximize profits. There's more bang for the buck with a concentrated product.

IMHO, I think most would agree that their increased cost led to intravenous drug abuse which also happens to spread disease either directly by needle sharing or having sexual relations. Yet when any politician or public health advocate proposes needle exchange programs, which have routinely demonstrated decreased incidence in the spread of HIV/AIDS, they are routinely denounced by political opportunists of almost all stripes.

The Founding Fathers had the wisdom to recognize the folly that is human nature when they wrote the Constitution for a federal government with limited powers. IMHO, if they were here today, they would congratulate themselves for the foresight to have written the Second Amendment in order to secure the liberty that they originally sought when they affirmed to, "mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor," in the Declaration of Independence.

"Those who would sacrifice essential liberties for a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."- Benjamin Franklin

I can see sacrificing some liberties temporarily because we are at war, but not forever because fools might kill themselves by their own hands. Rant off.

29 posted on 07/06/2006 1:41:26 PM PDT by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: neverdem
Wow, what a rant. LOL.

Do you have problems with city, state, local laws against opiate drug usage?

30 posted on 07/06/2006 1:54:53 PM PDT by AxelPaulsenJr (Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.)
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To: AxelPaulsenJr
Do you have problems with city, state, local laws against opiate drug usage?

Not as much, but I still think they cause about as much trouble and corruption as the harm they may prevent. I just don't think you can legislate morality with vice laws.

That said, I was disappointed with SCOTUS in the Lawrence v. Texas from a public health point of view re: HIV/AIDS. They didn't even look at it from that perspective, yet the gov't restricts liberties from the public health point of view even when the science is bogus, i.e. environmental tobacco smoke.

31 posted on 07/06/2006 2:18:28 PM PDT by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: neverdem
.......I just don't think you can legislate morality with vice laws.

Well imho that leaves only the influence of religion on people. And with that influence steadily fading in our society, I fear the worst.

Shudder......I hate to think of a free, open and totally unfettered drug taking society. I wonder if anyone will work at all, other than to steal to satisfy their next fix?

32 posted on 07/07/2006 6:50:35 AM PDT by AxelPaulsenJr (Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.)
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To: neverdem

If someone wants to destroy their life with a controlled substance, what’s it to me? As long as they are adults, understand the consequences of their actions, and break no other laws I don’t think the state should directly interfere. It’s their body and they can do with it what they wish. Legalize hard drugs and treat them like Alcohol or Tobacco.

If someone chooses death over life – and let’s face it, that’s what a heroin addict does – I can lament that decision, but I can’t change it.


33 posted on 07/07/2006 7:21:46 AM PDT by Gerfang
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To: AxelPaulsenJr
Well imho that leaves only the influence of religion on people. And with that influence steadily fading in our society, I fear the worst.

Every time I hear or read stories, they say the U.S. is one of the most religious countries in the entire world.

Here's a Google of polls united states believe belief in God

Recent polling by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that 96% of the public says they believe in God or some form of Supreme Being, roughly the same number as in a 1965 survey cited in the Time piece.

Take heart! Don't be discouraged because the left and the aetheists still get the lion's share of media attention. They can't help but give doom and gloom, not to mention treason.

34 posted on 07/07/2006 11:47:29 AM PDT by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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