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Problem definition and the Failures of U.S. Drug Policy

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  1. Introduction
  2. The reasons for which budget allocates more money to demand reduction programs
  3. The cocaine epidemic
  4. President Bush's drug policy
  5. The prohibitive framework
  6. The public health framework
  7. The war on drugs
  8. National Drug Control Strategy's goals
  9. The effects of treatment programs
  10. Defining drug abuse as a public health problem
  11. The Dutch view on drug abuse
  12. The treatment
  13. Conclusion
  14. Bibliography

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.?[36] 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 drug problem needs to be redefined in the United States today, as a medical problem, and a public health approach needs to be adopted in order to begin placing an emphasis on demand- reduction programs, rather than supply-reduction programs. The problem definition of the current drug policy inhibits the possible successes that could be achieved in the against drugs? and the problem needs to be redefined immediately in order to begin the up hill battle with drugs in America. Bibliography Bertram, Eva. Drug war politics the price of denial.Berkeley: University of California P Boyum, David, and Peter Reuter. An Analytical Assessment of U.S. Drug Policy. [...]


[...] This logic ultimately hurts more Americans than helps, as if one is addicted to drugs, they will for sure continue using any needle they can find regardless of the possibility of disease. By continuing to view the needle exchange programs in this way, the drug policy is hurting more people than helping. In terms of treatment, the idea is that as much as one can try to prevent drug use, there will be those who continue to use and abuse drugs and those people need treatment. Dr. [...]


[...] Include into all of that the economic devastation some major cities are facing, resulting in homelessness and increased crime and the situation to define the drug problem as a public health concern is grim. However, the possibility of all of this cannot even be considered until the American public and the politics of drug policy are able to recognize the failure of the current ?drug warrior? policy and consider new alternatives. The goal of prevention in a public health paradigm would be to stop use. [...]

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