Drug abuse Policies and Strategies
Debate over the use of drugs and policies aimed at reducing drug demand and supply has been a major issue in health and criminal justice sectors. The policies in place are creating vagueness without a clear indication of which policy should be followed. There is controversy on which policy to follow in reduction of the supply or the reduction of the demand for drugs and alcohol consumption. The demand for alcohol consumption has been reduced through increased taxation policies. Setting of clear conditions for one to consume alcohol has also enabled the reduction of its consumption, whereby the age of eighteen years has been set (Arias & Kranzler, 2008). Now, the problem is about controlling illegal drugs mainly because their production and sale is done illegally and it would be difficult to control the demand without looking into the supply of these drugs in the United States. This paper reviews the strategies to reduce drug related harms to the society (Arias & Kranzler, 2008). The paper shows a review of the current supply controls as well as the antisocial behaviors that are available to social and criminal justice as part of US authorities and their efforts to reduce the demand and supply of illicit drugs. There is also a theoretical explanation between drugs and alcohol. As observed in the study, illicit drug consumption may lead to an increased demand for alcohol, while alcohol consumption unconsciously leads individuals to the consumption of illegalized drugs. Alcohol and drug abuse interrelate and the problem with the trade or consumption of one can lead to problems as far as social issues and crime are concerned (Bottia, 2010).
Drug policy in the United States is said to be raising a lot of heated debate, with some people objecting to the government’s efforts to mitigate the effect of drug abuse in the society. The drug policies are developed under various goals and objectives. The goal could be to stop the effect of drugs abused by a part of the public, step down the supply of illicit drugs to the public, or reduce the demand of drugs by the public as much as possible (Bottia, 2010).
The current United States drug policy is split into two. The two sections of the policy include reduction of the supply of illicit drugs and reduction in the demand for these drugs. The reduction of demand for illicit drugs is faced with challenges since people consume drugs with knowledge of the dangers involved (Lewis 1992). A drug abuser goes on to purchase illegal drug with some clue about its side effect and with clear knowledge that the consumption of such drugs is illegal (Lewis 1992). This aspect makes the demand reduction strategy more challenging than its supply. The supply reduction strategy is the dominant strategy given the nature of forces leading to the demand of illicit drugs in the United States and elsewhere. The supply reduction strategy becomes the dominant strategy since the Harrison Narcotics Act was enacted in 1914 (Hollister, Lukas, Leccese, Goldstein, & Kalant, 1991).
Supply Side Strategy
The supply reduction strategy concentrates mainly on reducing the supply of abused and illicit drugs by law enforcement under criminal justice. The supply reduction strategy also seeks interdiction of drugs and eradication of the production of drugs in the country and all drug producing countries (Heather, 2007 ). The supply reduction strategy also focuses on mitigating any cases of drug trafficking in the US and its neighboring countries or other countries of the world within the United Nations organization. The supply side approach of the drug policies in place today is based on assumptions that if drug availability is curtailed, then the prices of the drugs would be forced to shoot up (Reuter 1992). The elevated prices will then make the drugs too expensive for American drug users to afford. The only option left to those who can afford will be stopping the use of these illicit drugs or seek medical treatment for drug addiction.
This strategy is meant to control the supply side such that there is a significant imbalance between the demand and supply of these illicit drugs. This strategy could be the root course of the high prices of abused drugs around the world (Reuter 1992). The US criminal justice mainly targets the suppliers of these illegally abused drugs making them face difficulties to produce the drugs (Burdon, Farabee, Prendergast, & Messina, 2002). The risk involved and high costs of production make the supply of such drug too low and risky as well (U. S. General Accounting Office 1993). Any drug user purchasing the drugs will be charged in a manner that all the respective costs of production are covered including the risk factors in the production, transportation, and distribution of such drugs (Montagne 1992).
Demand Side Strategy
The demand reduction strategy is based on the assumption that supply for illegal will exist given that there is ready demand for the illicit drug products. The strategy is not the dominant strategy but is based on this economic condition of demand and supply. The strategy works on the principle that supply of drugs would be brought down by the fact that no ready demand for the produced drugs even at work place (Hirth, 2004). According to the strategic principles and assumptions, supply of drugs is triggered by the existence of demand but if demand was very low, production of the drugs would be low or producers and suppliers would not see any benefits from the production and sale of the drugs due to the associated low prices (Kleiman, 2001 ).
The success of law enforcement mainly encourages discovery of other new sources as well as more potent substitute drugs that are more concealed. The demand side of the drug policies and strategies aims at reducing the demand for drugs and the key target is on the initiation of new drug users. This strategy therefore focuses on primary prevention as well as treatment on the demand for illicit drugs in the United States (Leccese, 1991).
Problems with current policies
The demand reduction strategy has been hardly effective since the methods of encouraging people to stop the use of illegal and harmful drugs were not as great as today. The demand side strategy of the drug policy has only taken shape in the past few years (Manchikanti, 2007). The strategy has been given the second priority after the supply reduction strategy. In the past one decade, the demand side strategy was estimated at 30 per cent in the effectiveness of the strategy and about 70 percent accounting for the supply side strategy (Duncan et al 2011). The trend has improved through as other methods of preventing the effects of drugs and alcohol consumption is incorporated. This includes law enforcement to impose charges on illicit drug users and place restriction on whom to consume alcohol and the time or place to take alcohol from. Most people have complied with these efforts but the policy maintains its strengths on the demand and supply reduction strategies (Duncan et al 2011).
There are problems associated with these efforts in the two strategies. First, the efforts placed to reduce the supply of drugs only cause a significant increase in illicit drug price. Despite the fact that drug prices have increased significantly, there is no associated impact on reducing the access to drugs despite the high costs of acquiring the drugs (Duncan et al 2011).
It is estimated that that the enforcement of the law against the use or the trade of illicit drugs took effect by at most 15 percent. This is not significant with respect to the lawful efforts in the enforcements (Samet, 2000). The estimate is also believed to have been exaggerated and that the US has never achieved such a percentage through drug law enforcements (Samet, 2000). Contrary to some claims by the US government of the justice system, drug trafficking and the drug business has grown to a high level that the signs of any effort to reduce illegal drug business seem unavailable.
The trend of substance abuse is changing for the worst and governments are very concerned about the increasing illegal business. While some countries are leading in efforts to push down the trend, most of these countries are the most affected like the United States (Duncan et al 2011). Since the year 1987, investment in the business of illicit drug treatment, both public and private have lagged in their attempt to fulfill the increasing number of health effects from illicit drug consumption (Reuter, Pacula, & Caulkins, 2011).
Substance abuse has been increasing in the United States irrespective of any efforts in place to mitigate the problem of the drug business, its consumption, and their side effects including the impact to the society. Statistics show that drug abuse treatment expenditure in the US grew from 9.3 billion US Dollars in 1986 alone to over twenty billion in 2003 (Mark et al 2007).
Theses statistics show a more than double the amount spend on the treatment of substance abuse cases in less than two decades. This trend has been alarming and it could indicate that the expenditure has more than tripled by the beginning of the new decade (Burdon, Farabee, Prendergast, & Messina, 2002). This trend is however decreasing in percentage as seen in the changing rate, whereby the percentage of health treatment dealing with effect of substance abuse and the substance abuse cases decreased from about 2.6 per cent to about 1.3 per cent within the same period.
Among the most common medical disorders, medical disorders are said to be the most common. Statistics again show that more than 22.5 million Americans between the age of 12 and older ages have medical disorders related to substance abuse. This has been a challenge to the health care sector in its effort to cater for all the health problems related to drug and substance abuse (Stockley, 2001). A study by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health Organization showed that in 2004, more than 3.8 million Americans accounting for at least 1.6 per cent of the US population were forces by their drug related health conditions to receive medical treatments (Mark et al 2007).
As far as statewide treatment admissions, the number of admission went up by 5 per cent between 2000 and 2005. In 2000 alone, admissions for primary methamphetamine accounted for 17 percent of all California medical treatments or admissions. While this is the case, substance abuse in the case of American Indians is said to have a long history dating back to the colonial era. The case of the American Indian is different and the youths in this race are said to have the highest case of substance and drug abuse as compared to other races (Manchikanti, 2007).
This group of Americans is also said to have the highest case of drug abuse than any other group in the US population. These youths are said to have had interventions in drug abuse, which had worked well at one time in history but the trend changed significantly (Lane & Simmons 2011). According to Lane and Simmons (2011), there are various reasons that led to the American Indians top in the list of the top groups in drug and substance abuse in the US and the failure to intervene their drug abuse. The major reasons include their diversities, cultures, as well as lack or inadequate consideration for their tribal histories that are sociopolitical. These differences among the youth made it difficult to handle the problem socially especially after the failure of other attempts (Phillips, 2013).
One of the major contributions to the drug abuse by American Indian youths is their historical trauma (Lane & Simmons 2011). The theoretical framework in this case has however never been tested but only assumptions exists and data on their consumption is said to be limited (Lane & Simmons 2011). There is however, heterogeneity as far as drug abuse by the American Indian youth is concerned. The existence of a special relationship between American Indians and the Federal government seem to contribute much in this trend given that the social justice system seems to favor this group more than other groups as far as similar offenses are concerned.
A recent trend in drug and substance abuse shows that in 2010, about 22.6 million Americans of the age of 12 and above used illicit drugs. Most of the abused illicit drugs include cocaine, marijuana, hallucinogens, and inhalants as well as prescription drugs mainly used for non-medical reasons. The youth adults are the most affected group as compared to those between the age of 12 and 17 (US Office of Justice Programs 2013). The youth are responsible for increased crime in the US. Drug abuse is highly linked to the increasing cases of crime in the US as those accused of a criminal offense being associated with drug abuse.
The trend in drug and substance abuse seems to take the same path with crime case. The youth are more likely to engage in crime when under the influence of drugs or alcohol than when they are not under the same influence. Again, lack of the money to purchase drugs would lead to crime when the drug addicts or alcohol consumers find themselves in a situation where they have to get the drugs despite the increasing prices. Increasing prices in the drug and illicit substances abused make it impossible for those addicted to afford (Lurigio, Olson, & Snowden, 2009 ). When prices are too high, a drug addict will choose to stop consuming the drug, seek medical treatment, or engage in crime to get what he or she has been lacking. This way, drug and substance abuse end up contributing to crime.
Current drug treatment services within the Criminal Justice System
Treatments for drug abuse cases have been increasing as the concern on drug abuse increases from time to time. The extent of treatment has been extended to the criminal justice system, which now act as correction facilities for drug addicts. It is estimated that about 61 per cent of the state correctional facilities in the US offer provisions in substance abuse treatments (Mears et al 2003). The Federal government also shows its support in the program by funding and supporting residential programs in drug abuse.
Treatments in prisons are done with the percentage of the state prisoners who participate in the drug abuse treatment programs decreasing significantly. Despite the efforts by the government to initiate treatments within criminal justice systems tend to fail with the objective of government hardly been achieved (Mears et al 2003). Attempts to get drug treatment programs to reduce the drug abuse and criminal behavior seem not to achieve significant changes.
One of the reasons why treatments offered at correctional facilities do not yield significant changes is that there re usually many cases of conflicting expectations. System constrains also provide a reason why these facilities do not deliver adequately as far as correction and treatment on drug abuse is concerned (McGuire & Ruhm, 1993). The same reasons are the basis of the conflicting gap between the treatment of drug abuse offered in correctional facilities and that provided by health facilities. Health facilities provide treatment at a cost (Brolin et al 2006).
Patients are required to pay for their services and they would be committed to making use of all they have spent to better their lives and their health conditions. On the other side, medical practitioners in this case are always ready to provide treatments in a way that compensates what has been provided by the patients of drug abuse (Brolin et al 2006). In contrast to this aspect, criminal justice systems are assumed to be correction facilities with no intention to better the addicts’ lives as individuals. They could be taken to represent the arm of law and that all activities are taken to be part of an individual’s punishment (Reuter 1992). This aspect provides one reason why drug abusers given treatments within the correction facilities hardly change their behaviors in either crime or drug abuse (Lurigio, Olson, & Snowden, 2009 ). Correction facilities therefore happen not to be the best way of providing corrections to drug addicts and the criminal behaviors that result due to the influence of drugs or alcohol consumption.
Service and policies gaps
In this increasing problem of drug and substance abuse, there is a significant gap between the policies in place and the services offered to heal the problem. Policies employed seem to create more problems outside the bracket of the drug abuse problem (Lurigio, Olson, & Snowden, 2009 ). Policies like reducing the supply of illicit drugs only elevates their prices making supplies feel better as they earn more profits. This policy seems to brighten the illegal market since supplier gets rich within a very short time (Young et al 2009 ).
From the side of the consumers of the drugs, high prices leave them with three choices. They can either choose to abandon the drugs, which is difficult due to their addiction. One can also opt to seek medication, which would be the best idea. The worst choice would be engaging in crimes such as robbery as the only way to earn easy money that would enable the drug addict afford his or her dose easily (Young et al 2009). Policies therefore work centrally to the services available since there is a significant difference between abandoning drug abuse at will and being forced out of the behavior.
The government efforts are great and no one can object what the federal government has been trying to make for its citizens and the world in general. Many reconstructions can be made in the current system to help eliminate drug abuse and its impacts to the society. Many people hardly want to be pushed out of a certain behavior but one could be in a position to leave the behavior willingly since most of the drug addicts understand the implication of their consumption (Bottia, 2010). Drug policies that lead to problems that are more social can be changed for other policies that are more favorable to the society.
The treatment provided in the correctional facilities should also be improved and the attitude of people against the program should be changed. The best thing for the government to get rid of the increasing problem is to try solving those problems contributing to drug abuse and the initiation of new users to the behavior (Heather, 2007 ). The root of the problem can be handled rather than tackling the problem from the top. If the government and the right authority initiate the right measures and abandon any program that seems ineffective, the percentage use of illicit drugs in the US would decrease significantly.
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