The term ‘war on drugs’ was popularized by the media shortly after President Nixon declared drugs “public enemy number one” in 1971. CNN notes that “this has been the longest-running policy initiatives ever pursued by the American government.” The quest to fight back on drugs has costed a lot; Business Insider claims that the United States has spent more than $1 trillion on enforcing drug laws over the past 40 years, and has spent at least $15 billion a year on drug law enforcement. From Reagan’s “zero tolerance” policy on drugs, to Clinton’s increased funding for treatment programs, there has been much debate over drug policy since Nixon first waged this war.
While the government has tried many attempts to reduce and/or stop drug use in the United States, there are many points of concern. Some are worried about the primary focus of this war – if the government is focusing more on criminalizing individuals who possess and use drugs, will this stop drug use in a more efficient way than focusing on key issues such as violent gangs and large-scale drug trafficking? Lots of money has been spent on minor arrests, many believe that incarcerating thousands of people is misguided.
With criminalization costing the United States a hefty amount of money, perspectives shifted more towards health-based approaches when President Bush was in office. The Drug Policy Alliance states that each year, 700,000 people are arrested for marijuana-related offenses and almost 500,000 people are behind bars due to drug violations. There are many important topics that can be considered regarding the ‘war on drugs’ – is the amount of money we are spending each year truly making a difference if it costs us billions of dollars, crams our prisons, perpetuates racism, and doesn’t provide support to those who need it? The questions are endless.
While there are many views one can take on this topic, what’s most important to remember is that individually, we each have a choice to make. We can choose to help our neighbors and loved ones to seek help, and we can help ourselves by seeking out treatment. We can voice our concerns in the public arena and vote for who we believe can best execute those goals. We can make the decision to personally become better for our parents, our children, and our friends.
If you are ready to seek treatment, call us today at 888-316-3665. New Vista Behavioral Health is home to several mental health and addiction recovery treatment centers with professionals who truly care about your success. We believe in restoring your mind, body, and spirit, so that you feel fully prepared to overcome the challenges you face. Call us today for a consultation.