Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Addicted to the War on Drugs

How did we get addicted? The same way all addictions start.

We started out with a kind of moralistic malaise; there was something vaguely irksome about those people using that recreational drug. It just didn't seem wholesome. We thought we should do something about it. And so, we passed a law trying to constrain it. And ooooh, that's a good feeling. We've done something! We've taken a stand for righteousness!

Of course, that high didn't last, and after a while we begin to notice that people were still using the drug, despite the reasonable measures we took to curtail it. Sure, some stopped using it, but those who didn't were a somewhat more unsavory sort of person, not just dabbling in a recreational drug, but also defying the law. That just can't be tolerated. So we had to crack down! Enact a tougher law! Yeah, that's the stuff! Moral righteousness, there's no high like it.

And when that high wore off, we noticed that people were still using the drug, except that they'd gone underground, and a decidedly criminal element had become involved. What's more, since the ban made it hard to ship the stuff in its natural form, they started refining out and concentrating the active ingredient and smuggling that more compact product instead. Of course, that just makes the drug itself more potent and more dangerous. So we definitely needed to implement stronger enforcement measures, because good heavens, just  look at how horrible that drug is and the lives it ruins!

And before we knew it, we couldn't quit. We can't bring ourselves to face the terrifying process of easing up on our enforcement measures. These drugs are just so horrible, so bad for people, and the people involved in producing and selling them are such dangerous criminals, how could we possibly stop? No, we need stronger measures to combat these ever stronger drugs on our streets and....

Stop. That isn't going to help. Yeah, I know, we probably can't just go cold turkey. Quitting's going to be a long, difficult and painful process. But we do need to get off the stuff. We need to ease ourselves off the habit of thinking of drugs as a criminal problem, and recognize that at root, it's a health problem.

And recognizing the nature of the problem is the first step towards overcoming it.

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