The war on drugs in the United States has not been successful because drug policy has focused on defining the problem of drugs as a criminal justice concern and not as a public health issue. By defining the drug problem in this way, focus has remained on enforcement and neglected treatment and prevention. In order to make significant progress in dealing with the problem of drug use and drug addiction, U.S. drug policy needs to be redefined as both a medical issue as well as a criminal justice issue. In this way, by making a more balanced budget between enforcement and treatment and prevention, solutions will target both the medical and criminal issues of drug use in the United States.The debate over drug policy can be divided into two sides: those advocating supply reduction programs on one hand, and demand reduction programs on the other hand. Supply reduction programs are characterized by law enforcement efforts, are designed to stop or disrupt the flow of illicit drugs into the country, while demand reduction programs or drug treatment and prevention programs, seeks to discourage individuals from trying illicit substances or encourage and assist current drug users to stop. U.S. drug policy officials claim that the budget for policy is equally divided between supply reduction and demand reduction programs however the budget is tilted in favor of supply reduction programs. The reasoning behind why the budget allocates more money to demand reduction programs is the drug policy uses the variable of prevalence as the key indicator. Prevalence is measured by the number of people using drugs and the goal is to reduce that number of people. Prevalence of drug use has emerged as in general, elected officials have accepted the prohibitive foundation of U.S. drug policy.
The prohibitive foundation is evident by the use of the term war on drugs and the official position in the government of the drug czar. The prohibitive framework has dominated U.S. drug policy but the other frameworks that need to be evaluated include the public health framework and the libertarian framework, which will be discussed later.
[...] Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Insitute P Carnevale, John, and Patrick Murphy. "Matching Rhetoric to Dollars: Twenty- Five Years of Federal Drug Strategies and Drug Budgets." Journal of Drug Issues 29 (1999): 299-322. Caulkins, Jonathan P., and Peter Reuter. "How Goes the "War on Drugs?" An Assessment of U.S. Drug Problems and Policy." Drug Policy Research Center (2005). Gray, James P. [...]
[...] The Dutch view of the drug problem can best be summed up by the following statement: “Drug use does not stand alone. Poverty discrimination of ethnic minorities, tensions between the rich and the poor, lack of access to social and health services, and dilapidated neighborhoods are all factors that could lead to substance abuse. In the Netherlands, demand-reduction programs are therefore being integrated with the social security system, which guarantees a minimum income to every citizen, and with accessible general health care system.” While the culture in the Netherlands is different than the culture in the United States, as well as the social programs available to people, its still possible to create a similar system in the United States in terms of drug policy and defining it as a public health problem. [...]
[...] The current U.S. drug policy has not proven successful because the problem of drug use has been defined as a criminal justice issue, and therefore solutions are geared towards treating drug users like criminals and therefore criminals deserve punishment. The threat of incarceration has obviously not worked in terms of curbing drug use and abuse in the United States today and research continually shows that drug users do not cite the threat of prison or the loss of other liberties as a motivating factor for wanting to end their addiction. [...]
[...] Before treatment proves to be a viable option, realistic solutions need to be crafted first. “Under a public- health paradigm, an individual who abuses drugs or is addicted to them would be considered a person with a health problem in need of care, not a criminal in need of punishment.” In this way, the drug problem would be defined with the belief that addiction is a disease, and addicts need help, not prison time. These aren't solely individual health problems, but problems affecting all of society, hence the public health paradigm. [...]
[...] The public health framework is another framework to be considered in laying the ground work for a drug policy. Those who advocate for the legalization of drugs, such as the legalization of medicinal marijuana, are included in this framework and they view addiction as disease and criminal sanctions as inhumane and wasteful of tax money.” In this way, the public health framework believes that drug policy should advance public health and advocates drug policy funding concentrate a majority to demand reduction, treatment and prevention programs. [...]
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