Heroin and Cocaine Drug Use Policy
Drug abuse has been an issue for over centuries in the U.S. In the United States and around the world, drugs and other intoxicating substances are used and for proper use their need to be regulations on substance use. Drug regulation is common in the industrialized countries, and even the third world countries are adopting it as a mandatory. The federal government of the U.S prohibits manufacturing, processing, and distribution of large amounts of intoxicating substances. In 1970 the Congress found out that some illicit drugs may have medicinal use thus to control the use of such substances the government came up with policies to regulate substance use. Drug policies are expected to reduce illegal drug users, reduce deaths and other problems associated with substance use. However, the previous policies have failed to reduce drug consumption rate, illicit drug availability, diseases and deaths due to drug abuse (Lynch, T. 2000), thus there are current policies which aims at doing the same.
A drug policy that the paper looks into is the policy that of the most widely used psychoactive drugs, heroin and cocaine are banned and penalties and jail terms should be given to those found in possession or using the drugs. This policy aims at preventing people from using heroin and cocaine. However, this has not been an easy task for the government to remove or reduce those who consume heroin. Initially, back in the mid-20th century, heroin was made illegal for recreational use but remained legal for medicinal use. Heroin was becoming more addictive and the government could not control those who used it for recreational purposes and pain relieving purposes without doctor’s prescription. It is because of this uncontrollable reasons that the government made a ban non-medicinal use of heroin and other drugs.
However, despite the ban people continued to process and distribute heroin in shops and other commercial places. Heroin is now a public health problem. Heroine was then nationally outlawed from both medicinal and recreational purposes. Any heroin user was subjected to health problems an if anyone was found in possession after it was outlawed nationally, it meant that he or she would face penalties that comes with illegal drugs possession. However, this policy has not been effective since the number of heroin users and addicts continue to multiply every year. Addiction to prescription opioids is the strongest risk factor for heroin abuse whereby many perceive the two to have similar effects. Many progress to heroin use driven by low cost and high availability unlike opioids which are costly and less available.
All is not lost for the country, to have the policy work there has to be some implementations. The government has already decided on banning heroin and so the policy should remain. However, there need to be further statements on the policy that read if found one is supposed to be rehabilitated and treated but if there are addict then the government should take lead in helping them withdraw from the addiction. Treating drug addicts and those who abuse them with jail terms is not a solution to their problem since this has been the case for over fifty years yet we see those who abuse heroin multiply every year. There are other alternatives besides jailing them since we are not sure after the jail term is over these people won’t go back to abusing drugs.
An alternative to jail terms is treating opiate addiction as a health problem and concern. It is from here that the government is able to set up rehabilitation centers, creating public awareness and doing a search on those who sell these drugs. Education and public awareness are able to create sense into those addicted and this should be done together with rehabilitation. Also, educating the general public prevents coming up of new users who later will get addicted. Treating heroin abuse as a health problem and not a crime is a good step toward helping combat cases of the same. Since there will always be new forms of heroin produced, then the only option is to help the addicts and the sellers understand what dangers comes with heroin, cocaine and other narcotics.
The policy has it that people be jailed if found abusing drugs. The should policy give the criminals a second chance by providing treatment and rehabilitation which would see them better people after their jail term is over. This is a positive thing to the society since once freed they can educate the other substance users. Research shows that society is supporting such policies and recent study claimed that 67% of the Americans were in support of treatment policy on hard drug offenders (In Labate, B. C., In Cavnar, C., & In Rodrigues, T. 2016). Instead of spending time incarcerated it is better for these offenders to be rehabilitated and treated as a long-term measure.
Since current drug policies in America meets less of its stated goals, it is good to incorporate ideas from other countries around the world such as Switzerland. Switzerland has its policies in place, and cost-effective treatment for the drug abusers receives high funds to help curb the situation. The government of Switzerland spends mush on Anti-drug programmes to educate people on the proper use of a drug that is why they have positive progress in regulating substance use (Harcourt, B. E. 2003). Lastly, it is our role the citizens to help the government reduce heroin use rate by trying to help enforce the policies and educate the drug abusers on what is good and bad. The country has to recognize drug abuse and drug use as two different matters when coming up with policies.
As long as opioids continue to be legal then it will be hard for the government to prevent the use of heroin. The impact of opiate prescriptions and heroin abuse have led to slower rates of war on drugs whereby the government and health sector finds it hard to combat drugs since they are assumed to serve the same functions as opiates which are prescribed and solved over the counter. Heroin being cheaper in the market even though sold behind bars is a big threat to war on drugs since the effects it has to users are long term and the withdrawal process is not an easy task. The battle on narcotics is getting harder day by day since the perception that most of these drugs relieve pain still stands thus patients take them as an alternative.
This changes are hard to implement because there are those who still want to make money from selling heroin and cocaine. We live in a world where people care about themselves thus the business people will always find a new way and form to sell the drug. Unfortunately, it is very hard for the government to be on top of every new substance that comes into the market. Once a drug is banned or harsh policies implemented on it the manufacturers are always on the course to produce an advanced form of the banned substance (Harcourt, B. E. 2003). A good example is a synthetic marijuana which entered the market in 2008 and by 2013 more than 2500 calls were received by the poison center about abuse of the same drug.
Conclusively, the answer to war on drugs is not jail terms and court penalties but rather proper education on the pros and cons of drug abuse. After letting people know about the negative side the government should make an effort of getting alternative drugs which cause less harm on health that can be used to relieve pain. Painkillers should have a lower price than heroin to prevent people from buying heroine as an alternative to what they have been prescribed with. It is a general responsibility of the society to help the government in fighting drug abuse.
Harcourt, B. E. (2003). Guns, crime, and punishment in America. New York: New York University Press.
In Labate, B. C., In Cavnar, C., & In Rodrigues, T. (2016). Drug policies and the politics of drugs in the Americas.
Lynch, T. (2000). After Prohibition: An adult approach to drug policies in the 21st century. Washington, D.C: CATO.