Americas War on Drugs
Since I was a child I have watched the war on drugs being being fought. I remember the cute ads "This is your brain on drugs" with the egg in the pan among others like the "Just say no " campaign. Today we have "DARE" and various others. What I have failed to see is a decrease in the use of drugs. As an adult working in the correctional field and the courts system what I have seen is that the war on drugs has become a huge failure. The war on drugs has become costly and has overloaded our justice systems. America spends more on the costs of building and maintaining its prison system than it does on education. This is should be a very bright red flag that something is very wrong with the current way we are waging this war.
The increased use of the former drugs of choice as well the trend in designer drugs proves that there is not let up in the drug industry. The availability of drugs is easier than ever before with many dealers who deliver directly to the customer almost like a pizza delivery. In some neighborhoods the same ice cream man who sells the children of todays generation popcicles also sells drugs. Drug use also knows no boundaries in so far as race, societal position or age. The headlines scream of 7-8 year olds dealing, overdosing and sharing drugs with their friends. The new thing on elementary capsules is the mixture of crystal meth in the pixie stix candy with kool-aid, now known as strawberry meth. This is also sometimes filled with heroin and the kool-aid mixture and is used to attract the smaller children and get them addicted to these powerful drugs. The drugs are first given to the children free at first, then as they become addicted, which can occur as soon as the first use, they are sold to them for $2.00 to $10.00 by the same friends.
In the 70's and 80's cocaine was used mostly by the affluent in upper society and crystal meth was a drug sold and used by the biker gangs and lower class. With the invention of crack cocaine and the influx of crystal meth by the cartels as well as many "mom and pop" cooks of both, it is available at a cheap price to almost anyone who wants it. The usage of designer drugs have also increased, ecstacy, the smokable forms of herbs which are made to duplicate the effects of marijuana have been related to several deaths and severe medical disabilities over the past years. Crystal meth or crank as it is called can now be cooked in a plastic bottle. it is made from over the counter cold medications containing pseudo-ephedrine, the ingredients from lithium batteries, and other caustic chemicals such as Drano. I t is a very volitale mixture and has been responsible for many deaths and serious burns and the destruction of property. It was responsible in Dallas for the deaths of eight children who were killed in an explosion in the cooking process while their mother went to the store. The cold medications have now been moved behind the counter and require an ID and a limit of 2 packs per person. This has not deterred the persons making this deadly mixture. They now use mules who go from store to store making multiple purchases and are then paid a small commission or paid in drugs. The ingredients used to make this drug when combined are so lethal that clean up requires the Haz-Mat team and law enforcement personnel entering the premises must wear protective clothing and ventilator breathing devices. yet people actually snot, drink, or shoot this into their veins. Crack cocaine consists of cocaine, baking soda and water. Things available in every kitchen. It is very potent, and very addictive. It hits the brain within seconds giving the user an immediate high but it lasts only a few minutes before the user needs another "hit". Though fairly cheap it has caused a dramatic increase in crime and a tremendous increase in the jail and prison populations. Does this sound like we are winning the war on drugs?
As a Correctional Officer and Court Official I have witnessed first hand the devastating effects of drug abuse on families, individuals, and society. Children left without parents and support, Individuals incarcerated for long periods of time causing tremendous burdens on the prison systems and being released back into the same lifestyle with no rehabilitation or treatment. It is a revolving door costing the American people billions in lost taxes. The burden on the prison system does not end there. The Correctional Officers are often over-worked, under-paid and work on a balance of anywhere from 50 inmates to 1 officer , to 100 or more to an officer. The hours are long 12-14 hours a day with mandatory overtime meaning if someone can not show up for the next shift you must remain and work often a 24 hour shift. This is dangerous to both inmates, the staff, and the public. When you are sleep deficit, you are less alert. The chance of violence or less diligence is more possible when you are less alert. Overcrowding, staff violence on inmates, inmate violence on staff or inmate on inmate violence all result from over-crowding and staff shortage. It has become a job not desirable by most and the few who do are functioning under an extremely high stress level, which affects their interaction with inmates, spouses and others. The incidents from those in law enforcement and corrections that are involved in domestic violence are much higher than those of a normal person. The effects on the inmates families are also devastating. Spouses are often unable to sustain the family and move on to other relationships, the children are left fatherless. The inmate upon release is not eligible for food stamps, college grants, or housing which leaves them in a no win situation. They most often return to their prior life. I believe this is the main cause of high recidivisim in prisoners. The prisoners often are offered nothing in the way of vocational training other than janitorial or cutting lawns which they learn by their jobs cleaning the prison floors. They most often turn to a life of drug abuse and many times violence.
Yet we hear over and over again how we are winning the war on drugs with our super technology and intelligence. if this is the case can someone please explain to me how a 14 year old girl was left propped up on her parents porch in a chair, dead, after overdosing with friends??
I do not profess to know the answer to what we should do. What I do know is that the present and past solutions have failed miserably. The issue appears to me to be an issue of supply and demand. Until we as a society can solve our social issues, the demand for a drug that takes the many away from reality will not cease and neither will the supply.