The above Documentary: The House I Live In really pushes Americans to think about how we need to change our strategy when fighting the "War on Drugs."

Recently, Roosevelt University hosted the Third Annual Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy.  This year, the three main panels concentrated on (1) the opiate (heroin) epidemic in the Chicago area, (2) the potential Naloxone (an opiate antagonist that can reverse the effects of opiates) has to prevent overdose deaths and save lives, and (3) the future of drug policy in the United States.  While all three are immensely important topics, the latter particularly caught our attention.

Drug policy in the United States (US) is something that can either be easily overlooked, or easily misinterpreted.  The panel of policy experts explained the history of US drug policy, the current status of the “war on drugs” and the possible future of US drug policy.  Throughout the panel, it became easier to understand what has, and has not been, achieved by current US drug laws.

About 2/3 of the United States (US) budget for drug policy is spent on source reduction (interceptions at the border, source elimination in countries of origin, and apprehending suppliers in the United States).  The leftover 1/3 is spent on “demand reduction” (treatment, education and intervention programs). What these ratios tell us is simple:  the US looks at drug addiction as a criminal issue, as opposed to a public health concern.  The American Medical Association (AMA) considers addiction a disease, so why doesn't our Federal Government?

Since the early 70's when Richard Nixon launched his “War on Drugs,” many politicians and citizens alike have been under the assumption that arresting drug dealers, destroying fields of coca in Columbia and influencing other governments will help “win the war on drugs.”  What we have seen over the last 40 years is that drug addicts still exist in the US despite spending more than $2.5 TRILLION on the war on drugs.  We now see that if the disease of drug addiction is not treated, the problem itself will not go away.  Instead, we have seen an alarming increase in the availability of illicit substances.  Arrests related to drug abuse are extremely high: over 1.5 million arrests in 2010 were related to drug abuse according to the FBI.

It appears it’s time to change the way we fight this war.  Many experts on policy, politicians and the United States (US) public are not only pushing towards a change in the US drug policy, but are worried what will happen if we don’t. The current structure of our policy is turning those with the disease of addiction into criminals and we are spending a huge amount of money doing this.  It is estimated the US is spending at least $40 billion a year on the war on drugs (including police costs, jail costs, etc.). Drug lords are reaping records profits and addicted Americans are not being helped with their disease.  Increasingly, more Americans agree that it is time for a change and time that our fellow Americans get the help they really need to live a sober life - free of their addictions.

If you or someone you love suffers from drug or other addiction, please contact us for help.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center