Hold on to your hats today, because I’ve got a guest post that should shake things up a little. My friend, Johnny Oliver, is a law enforcement officer who has seen the impact of drugs first-hand. He’s a thinking guy, and he’s come up with a provocative idea to end the drug problem in this country. If you’re like me, you’ll read the first few paragraphs and freak out. But stick with it. It’s not exactly what it looks like at first. And then, read the Q&A with him. Finally, we would both love to hear your thoughts. I give the blog to Johnny Oliver today.
A Cure to the Drug Problem
by Johnny Oliver
So, the way I see it, illegal drugs are one of the biggest problems facing society. I read that 3,000 people die every two months from illegal drug use. That’s more than died on 9/11. Couple that with the families torn apart and the strain on social services — illegal drugs affect us all in some way or another. This is not including the violence caused in the United States and in Mexico, which is unfathomable.
One thing I would like to point out is when I talk about illegal drug use, it falls into three categories. The first is stimulants, which include methamphetamine and cocoa-related derivatives. The second is depressants, which include derivatives of opiates. The third is hallucinogenics, which would include LSD and some of the more exotic designer drugs.
Now I know that I entitled this the Cure to the Drug Problem, but it would honestly only be a cure if I were allowed to be King for a month. But my solution is simple. To stop illegal drug use, simply make them legal. Simple, right?
But there is another part of this equation that needs to be factored in, and that is the social cost to drug use. The human brain gets addicted to chemicals very easily. What would happen if we suddenly had all the drug users, plus all those who would try drugs if there wasn’t a social stigma, wandering around? The burden social services would be staggering, possibly even more than they are now. So what do we do?
Again, simple. Remove them from society.
We have tried imprisoning those with drug addictions. It doesn’t work. I have witnessed it first-hand. There is only one way for people to cure themselves of their addiction, and that is for them to want to be cured of their addiction. But drug addiction and society cannot co-exist.
So here is my solution: Take those addicted to illegal drugs and ship them off to Guam. I hear Guam is nice. There, they can sit on one of three different islands. There will be “Paranoia Island” for those who enjoy stimulants. Next there will be “I’ll get to it tomorrow Island,” which will cater to those who enjoy depressants. Finally, “Pink Elephant Island” will cater to the hallucinogenics crowd. And on these islands, the inhabitants will be given all the drugs that they want. No cost. Just enjoy. These islands will be equipped with basic housing needs. Shelter, food, water, and anything else that is needed to sustain life.
Now, do we leave these individuals there to get sick and die? Of course not. We are not an evil and unforgiving society. We are compassionate.
So we provide them free medical treatment.
Where do we get this medical treatment? Every year hundreds of medical students graduate from medical school but cannot get into the field because they don’t have experience. This is a way for them to get experience in the field dealing with a myriad of issues. And the experience they gain would be immeasurable. This list would include doctors, clinicians, nurses, and anyone else associated with the medical field. This would be a place for them to train and learn on individuals with extreme medical issues. Bring that experience back to the rest of us, and those of us with a broken bone or unknown rash will be easy for them to treat. Two years of experience there would amount to unimaginable experience.
But do we leave those individuals there for the rest of their lives to die? No. That would just be imprisoning them in a different environment. The day that they want to rejoin society and leave drugs behind then they would be allowed to… with a condition. They have to complete drug rehabilitation.
Drug rehabilitation is one of the most ignored portions of the current war on drugs. We pay for enforcement, we pay for incarceration, and we pay that generously. Drugs are a real threat. But we don’t pay for rehabilitation.
The common drug addict walks out of incarceration with almost no resources. They can go to the local NA meeting and have stale coffee in the basement of a church or the back room of a community center, but thats about it.
A current counselor told me approximately 2% of counselors go into Substance Abuse. I can see why. No pay, no resources, very little job satisfaction, and a constant influx of new clients, most only there because they were ordered to be there by a judge. I don’t see this being a very lucrative field, so what are the chances that there are regional and national gatherings in which these experts get together and share their best practices? I would say slim to none. Couple that with the fact that not too many people choose this line of work and it becomes evident this part of the equation is lacking leaving many individuals to turn back to drugs.
So on these islands, drug rehabilitation will be consolidated. When residents of these islands want to rejoin society, they will go through a program that will address their issues. Be it a 6, 12, or 24 month program, they will stay until they are deemed to be over their addiction. Then they get a plane ride back and help integrating into society.
Will people voluntarily go? I’m sure some will. Others with addictions will end up being told they are going. Is it harsh? Yes. But is there hope? I’d like to think so.
If we end the drug dependance in the United States, it will affect other countries. Mexico and South America both have unmentionable violence associated with the drug trade in their countries. Just look at Colombia in the 80’s. The violence caused by one man shook entire countries. If the market in the United States disappeared, the violence down in Mexico and South America would decrease substantially.
I know parts of this seem like fantasy and some parts seem unpalatable, but something should be done. This country has been dealing with illegal drugs since its inception. I know it won’t happen overnight and there are many tangibles that are left unaddressed. But maybe, just maybe, this could lead to change.
So there’s his idea. Yes, his name is a pseudonym but he is a real law enforcement officer I know. You’ve probably got lots of questions. Feel free to ask them in the Comments section. I had questions, too. Here are the first two:
So who pays for it?
How much do we pay for the war on drugs now? This would be done at a fraction of the cost that we are currently paying. We recently passed the reformation of crime bill. All it did was shift the cost from the state to the local governments. The amount of money used on drug enforcement is massive. If that money were redirected, there would be a substantial decrease in all other social services.
Would the government run it?
It would have to be run through some governmental agency. Which makes me sick to my stomach to think about because the government is only worried about numbers. So who would run it? I don’t know.
Give us your thoughts and questions below. Thank you!