This is how we treat death of a drug overdose. We don’t think of it. In fact, we are ok with making it more common. How differently do we look at deaths of firearms? Or falling? Or planes? We have an equally costly wars on those fronts too. Incarcerating millions for murder, spending millions on lawsuits when places don’t put barricades and millions more on safety precautions and procedures on plane safety. Even one plane crash is good enough for us to look at the industry and make things illegal. We do so much to avoid preventable death and yet the publicly is publicly turning against it. We’ve made a mockery of the process and partially the process is to blame. Nearly everyone at my school did drugs but no one went to jail. Kids drove nice cars because they sold drugs to others and no cop every stopped them. Drastically different than how cops treat minorities for drug offenses. They go to jail and they are often stopped when driving a nice car in a poor neighborhood. The war on drugs is a mockery not because it isn’t important. Deaths of Jimmi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Juaquin Phoenix and Heath Ledger are just some of the bright minds who died as a result. But tens of thousands die every year, in fact Washington Post says drug overdoses are more common than auto accidents but we don’t hear about because they never got a chance to become musicians, actors, doctors or lawyers.
Our lack of perception about the impact of drugs doesn’t just affect us, it affects the world, the drug war in Colombia in Mexico where drug use is low have created deaths in the numbers that make all other war conflicts minor in comparison. Over 250,000 people died in Mexico over ten year period. They died horrible horrible deaths all because in United States, the kids stopped caring about doing drugs, because we think they are harmless.
But what is a drug? It is a chemical substance, untested, unregulated. Would we eat food that came by black market? Would we take pills that no one tested? And yet kids take pills and smoke herb that they do not know anything about, which can be addictive to some and certainly deadly. Now it might be part of pushing something underground that made it so. Also many things out there could kill us and we don’t make them illegal, just look at paint thinner. But there are many things which cause harm and will never be “cured” like theft and murder which we don’t give up on because we haven’t solved them, we work on them because they are signs of a sick society and we fix society to fix those symptoms. In the same way, the war on drugs must be fought, it is a serious issue, but we must not go after the symptoms but after the causes, like our inability to accept gay people, give the poor a chance to get education that would offer them jobs or services for veterans and those with traumas which would allow them to move on rather than use drugs, alcohol or gambling as a way to cope.
There are many things that we can do better, but assuming that drugs are harmless and ending the war to end drug abuse, is not one of them.