Rethinking The War on Drugs

Rethinking The War on Drugs

I watched this TED Talk long before I started research for this project. In fact, I quote Johann Hari in my book because I think these very important words could go a long way in re-framing how we think about and treat addiction and addicts. If you are in anyway touched by addiction, I urge you to take the 15 minutes to watch this very powerful TED Talk. 

The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.

What really causes addiction - to everything from cocaine to smart-phones? And how can we overcome it? Johann Hari has seen our current methods fail firsthand, as he has watched loved ones struggle to manage their addictions. He started to wonder why we treat addicts the way we do - and if there might be a better way.

Here in the U.S.A

  • From 2000 to 2014 nearly half a million people in the United States have died from drug overdoses. CDC
  • The U.S. is the world's largest jailer by far. As of 2014, 2,224,400 were incarcerated in the land of the free. The number of drug arrests in 2014 that were for possession only: 1,297,384. Drug Policy Alliance
  • 82% of Americans believe that we are losing the drug war and another 13% are undecided, yet we continue to allow our politicians to spend upwards of $50 billion per year trying to fight an unwinable war.  Rasmussen

The Results are in After 14 Years of Decriminalization in Portugal 

In the face of a horrible drug crisis in 2001, Portugal decided to decriminalize drugs, even heroin and invest the money they would have spent on the drug war into reconnecting addicts to society. Essentially, they went from focusing on eradicating drugs to a model concerned with what was best for addicts and society as a whole.  

As of 2014, Portugal only has 3 drug-induced deaths per million people, per year. 

Drug induced deaths from 2001-2012 Source: Transform

Portugal's HIV contraction rate has dropped steadily since decriminalization in 2001.  

Newly diagnosed HIV and AIDS among people who use drugs  from 2001-2012 Source: Transform

Maggie

Maggie

Erik

Erik