Drug addiction is a term that surfaces incredibly regularly and most of us have at least some grasp of what it means. However, only those who have had a drug addiction understand exactly what it is. And only those who work in the drug addiction field understand exactly what the consequences of drug addictions are.
The Impact of Drug Addiction
People who are addicted to drugs impact all levels of society. They cost billions of dollars each year to law enforcement professionals and medical professionals alike. The biggest impact, however, is found on their friends and family members. Those are the ones who have to watch them turn into a shell of their former self. It has been described very well in the Austin Chronicle
Wake up! Look at what you’re doing! How can you put your family through such pain? Can’t you see what Debbie did to herself? To her family? To me? I’m too young to have to deal with this!” She said she felt like, in their current mental state, none of them would have understood what she was trying to say.
That is the real impact of a drug addiction.
There is also a strong impact in the world of work. Very often, addicts are able to hold on to a job, at least to some degree. It is not uncommon for them to turn to theft from their employer in order to fund their drug habit. This constitutes a very difficult problem. As explained by Fasken Martineau
It is well established that discrimination against an employee on the basis of a physical or mental disability is prohibited. Drug or alcohol addictions constitute a “disability” under most human rights legislation such that employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees on the basis of their addictions. But what if a drug- or alcohol-addicted employee engages in serious misconduct which they say they committed because of their addiction? Will it be considered discriminatory to discipline them for such conduct? The Court of Appeal in Alberta recently said “not necessarily”.
The Case for Legalization
Because of all the associated financial costs, in particular to law enforcement professionals, there are frequent cries to legalize drugs instead. The latest call comes from Neil Franklin, a retired undercover drug investigator.
He said while growing up on Merritt Island, many of his family members were either addicts or dealers. He saw people doing anything they could to support their addiction, and believes that decriminalization of drugs would allow more resources to go to treatment instead of punishment.
The issue, however, remains highly controversial. It is proven, however, that the “war on drugs” is costing so much money that other, potentially more serious crimes, are being left unsolved. Besides this, people who have committed drug offenses regularly spend more time behind bars than sex offenders and those who have committed other violent crimes.
School Drugs Raids
At present, however, it seems the war on drugs will continue to be fought instead. In fact, efforts are being expanded and there are now even school drug raids, to stop drugs from reaching the young, which are some of the more vulnerable members of society. Young people are also the most influential, which is one of the reasons why they are often targeted by opportunistic drug dealers. In a report from the Patriot Ledger, it was noted that
School administrators and police have only the best of intentions when conducting such searches. Law enforcement must cope with the fallout of drug addiction every day. The uptick in drug-fueled break-ins, assaults and even deaths has been well covered.
However, many would agree that a better option would be to spend more on educating students on the dangers of drugs and how to resist peer pressure.
Prescription Drug Abuse
When people hear about drug addictions, they generally think about substances such as cocaine, heroine, crack or crystal meth. Some would also include alcohol in this list. However, the biggest amount of problems with drug addiction these days come from people who are addicted to prescription drugs. In a report from The Globe and Mail
The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, together with a large group of experts and officials, has published a new 10-year plan that would set up a countrywide surveillance system and overhaul legislation so that doctors and pharmacists no longer prescribe painkillers indiscriminately, and addicts are able to get appropriate and timely help.
It is believed our country will soon follow suit with this plan. The reality is that there are now more people who die from an overdose of prescription drugs than people who die from cocaine and heroine addiction combined. One of the big problems with addictions to prescription drugs is that it has seen an increase a number of different things. Firstly, there is an increase in the number of pharmacy robberies. Secondly, it has lead to an increase in patients stealing prescription pads. Last but not least, it has caused an increase in corrupt doctors and other professionals who are happy to sell prescription drugs at the right price. Because of this, and empowered by the example set by Canada, Vermont lawmakers have now started to try and make a difference. A report in The Bennington Banner states
The House of Representatives on Friday overwhelmingly approved an opioid and methamphetamine bill that addresses prevention, treatment and public safety. The legislation even attempts to slow addiction-related thefts of precious metals and requires landlords to report potential drug abuse. And a companion bill attempts to ensure that Vermonters won’t hesitate to call for help if they witness an overdose.
This is a fantastic step forward in helping those people who are struggling with addiction. Many are now starting to agree that education and help for those who suffer from addictions is far more important than prosecuting those who supply the drugs in the first place. It could be that this will be a huge turning point in the war on drugs, and hopefully a big step forward in improving the situation.