Did I say “legalization of drugs?” Yup. And it’s something we better start getting used to at least talking about and studying. Because the last time someone tried bringing this up in public (a certain Surgeon General?), they were eventually fired for it. Ignorance and censorship should not be the basis for a rational and coherent debate on this topic.
Unfortunately, finding such reasoned debate is not usually possible on the Internet, or in many public forums, even places like TV talk shows or newspaper columns. Some people become very emotional when discussing this issue, often because they’ve seen the devastation wreaked by drug use in the inner cities, or have had a personal family experience with the harms of drug use. Again, we must get beyond the rhetoric and the personalization of the debate and look at broader issues and answer some very difficult questions, such as:
- If the current policy is working, then why are so many Americans being locked up every year (and the proportion is increasing by astonishing numbers each year) for drug use?
- Why have Americans allowed the government to take away key liberties and freedoms in the name of trying to stamp out illegal drug use? For instance, the ability the police now have to instantly take away any property or money simply thought to be connected to drug use… No trial. No jury. No justice. You drive up in your car to buy some marijuana from a dealer on the street and you may lose your car. That’s great. But what about the innocent people (remember, “Innocent until proven guilty?”) who’s car they let a friend borrow and that same car is now sitting in the impound lot at the police station? Why should they suffer such a loss when it had nothing to do with them, other than perhaps their own questionable judgment?
- Why are our prisons in America filling up with drug offenders while people who have committed and been convicted of violent crimes are spending less and less time in jail?
- Why is marijuana and alcohol use again on the rise with teenagers?
We cannot keep ignoring these and other key issues. We cannot keep building more and more prisons to house people who break these laws. Our drug “war” has been about as effective as Prohibition was in the 1920s. Which is to say, it’s not working and it’s costing taxpayers billions of dollars a year in new prisons, in new drug-prevention programs, and in the cost of human lives which are being imprisoned for using a substance simply deemed to be illegal, yet not all that different from other legal addicting substances such as alcohol or nicotine.
I’m not advocating the legalization of drugs. I am advocating the open discussion of the implications of our current drug policy in America and what some reasonable alternatives might be. I am also advocating the open study and further research of these alternatives, and free discussion among Americans on these alternatives. We cannot say the alternatives are bad or worse than our current policies if we have no research on which to base our conclusions. Emotional stories aren’t evidence.
Well, as promised last time, I wrote an article which tells you how to go about starting a support group for a particular problem, disease, or disorder online. Read it and I hope you find it useful and helpful. You’re always welcome to write me with any questions about the specifics, because although I may have done this and seen it done hundreds of times, I still don’t know everything! 🙂 (My email is running about a week to 10 days to get a reply nowadays, although sometimes I can answer some requests within a day or two of receiving them.)
If you want the whole shi-bang of over 3,000 separate resources that have to do with psychiatry and mental health online, then you might want to visit Psych Central. It appears in the March 1996 issue of NetGuide with a 4-star rating! And it’s the largest and most comprehensive site of its kind in the world and we’re looking to build upon it in the upcoming years, acting as a super guide to mental health online. If you didn’t find what you needed here, look there next!
That’s all for this week… As always, keep in good mental health!