Many people believe that:
- Addiction is caused by chemical hooks because drugs are so powerful. If we take heroin for 10 days straight, we will become heroin addicts.
- The War on Drugs gets bad people off the street, creates less addicts, and makes society safer.
What is actually true:
- Addiction is much less about chemical hooks and more about connection with society (friends, purpose, etc.) – it’s an underlying problem of drug use. The opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety, the opposite of addiction is connection.
- The War on Drugs creates gang violence, more addicts, more crime, and damages society. It hasn’t worked and doesn’t work.
After reading this page and looking at the evidence, we hope to convince you that this is true.
Even if you don’t support people trying drugs, the war on drugs is something that damages society. It kills more people than if it didn’t exist, and we waste billions imprisoning people for minor drug offences instead of investing into education and treatment.
Legalization leads to a reduction in addicts and active users because it regulates the market.
Consider for a moment…
…that most things we’re told about drugs is simply not true.
The war on drugs is the war on us. It affects everyone, even if you don’t realize it.
The war on drugs creates a war for drugs.
Addicts are people who are sick. Most societies right now look at them are normal people who choose to do drugs and become addicts. But really addicts are people who need help, just like a homeless person or a depressed person.
Consider that 20% of US soldiers during the Vietnam War were using heroin regularly in Southeast Asia, and when they returned, almost none kept taking.
Consider that in the UK diamorphine (pure heroin – more pure than what you can buy on the street) is used daily to treat people with pain. Almost none become addicts.
Fact: The US is the #1 nation in the world for illegal drug use, even though it started and leads the “war on drugs”.
Fact: The US has the largest prison population in the world, approximately 2.3 million people. 51% due to drug offences (?).
It is counter-intuitive. People think making drugs illegal helps, but it doesn’t, it actually leads to more addicts, and more crime.
When a drug is left in the black market, people end up buying it, not even sure what is it in. Imagine buying a beer and not know what percent was alcohol – it would lead to people consuming much more than if they did know. This is basically what is happening with illegal, unregulated drugs.
Tobacco and alcohol aren’t healthy drugs, and many people don’t take them, even though they are legal. Since they are regulated and taxed, people can safely take these drugs, and very few become addicts – in fact the vast majority of people use even illegal drugs responsibly – meaning they aren’t addicted and they moderate. This would be the case with any drug, from cocaine to meth.
Did you know 85% of people who use crystal meth don’t become addicts? (?)
For the remaining 15% who do, imagine if it was regulated so they knew their dosages, were educated on it effects, and could get help if they became addicted? That percentage would very very likely decrease substantially, just as it has in places where it has been tested (see below).
When alcohol was made illegal during the prohibition in the 1920’s, people would resort to stronger stuff like whiskey because they had to smuggle it. This same idea happens today with hard drugs that are prohibited.
For example, consider that at a college football game in the US, bringing in beer is prohibited. What do you people then do? They sneak in flasks with whiskey or harder liquors. It’s called the “Iron Law of Prohibition“:
“The iron law of prohibition posits that as law enforcement becomes more intense, the potency of prohibited substances increases. Cowan put it this way: “the harder the enforcement, the harder the drugs.”
It’s not drug use that causes violence; it’s drug prohibition. Ask yourself – where are the violent alcohol dealers today?
There aren’t, because it’s regulated and legal. Imagine if beer, for example, wasn’t regulated. You might have a beer that is 10% ABV or 1% ABV, and you’d never know. The result would be FAR MORE overdoses and cases of alcohol poisoning, as well as violent dealers trying to gain power. This is essentially what is happening with all drugs that aren’t regulated or legalized right now.
Legalization simply means regulating the market rather than leaving it up to gangs and criminals to do so. It doesn’t mean advocating it’s use, it means monitoring, regulating, taxing, and controlling it’s use.
When you buy any illegal drug such as heroin and cocaine, it is cut over and over and by the time you take it, it might be half of what you think it is and half of something else. It could also be twice the dosage you think it is. It is totally unregulated so no one knows. In fact, it’s the incentive of the dealers to cut it such that they can maximize their profits!
Illegalization of drugs puts drug production into the black market. This means users are taking stuff that they don’t know what is in it. If regulated, dosages could be monitored and controlled, leading to FAR less overdoses.
Now you may think, why legalize these bad drugs? The reason is because people are taking them anyways at a wide scale – leaving them illegal doesn’t stop users – but does create addicts because users can’t get help. 10% of the US population has taken an illegal drug in just the last 30 days (?). There has never been a human civilization that hasn’t taken drugs!
The way to improve society isn’t to keep this war on drugs, it is to regulate drug usage. Where this has been tried, it works. The US has fought in the war on drugs for years and has spent $1 trillion+ to fight drugs, but it hasn’t worked.
Classic Rat Park Study
In a classic study in the 1970’s, an experiment was done where they put 1 rat into an empty cage with the options to drink pure water, or water laced with cocaine or herion (see this national advertisement too). After some time, the rat almost always chose the drugged water became addicted to the cocaine or heroin mix and overdosed, killing itself. Conclusion, cocaine/heroin creates addicts, ban it. WRONG!
In a later study, the experiment was duplicated, except this time instead of 1 rat, there were 20, along with some balls and wheels that the rats could play with. Not a single rat became addicted, and most actually preferred the water.
Conclusion: rats need connection. Without a connection, they get depressed and use drugs as their connection. They use the drug to escape the present – and this is precisely what leads to drug addiction. However, with connection and purpose, they don’t want to use drugs, even if they are available.
This is highly relavant to humans as well. Addicts on the street become addicts because they don’t have a connection or purpose. These people need help and friends, not to be pushed away from society – that makes the problem worse.
“Time magazine reported using heroin was “as common as chewing gum” among U.S. soldiers, and there is solid evidence to back this up: some 20 percent of U.S. soldiers had become addicted to heroin there, according to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Many people were understandably terrified; they believed a huge number of addicts were about to head home when the war ended.
But in fact some 95 percent of the addicted soldiers — according to the same study — simply stopped. Very few had rehab. They shifted from a terrifying cage back to a pleasant one, so didn’t want the drug any more.” (?)
What’s stopping you from drinking a bottle of whiskey for lunch on Wednesday at work? It isn’t because you can’t, it is because you have purpose, accountability, connections, and reasons not to.
Did you know in Switzerland there are government-run centers for heroin addicts to shoot up as much as they want? Why? Because it a) regulates what they’re actually taking so they know exactly the dosage and purity. b) gets them off the street and away from the dealers and disease. c) Bankrupts dealers since everyone goes to the regulated centers.
The result is fewer police since they no longer need to spend time arresting addicts and dealers on the street. The money can instead be spent on treating addicts and educating people on how to safely use drugs, if they decide to (just as with alcohol today – moderation is key). The number of addicts has declined, addicts can now have jobs and improve their lives instead of wasting time and money on the street. Since Switzerland opened these clinics nearly 20 years ago, there hasn’t been a single overdose!
Consider this: if the US legalized drugs that the Mexican cartels currently provide, the cartels would lose a huge amount of business and shrink, likely going bankrupt. It makes little sense to “fight” the cartel when the illegal market allows them to essentially monopolize the market and reap huge profits ($33B/year as of 2014).
Why are the cartels so powerful and violent? Because they have to be!
Consider you’re a clerk at 7/11 and someone steals a bottle of water. You don’t chase them, you call the police. Consider you’re a drug dealer and someone steals your drugs, you can’t call the police, you chase them and kill them. In an unregulated black market, violence is the tool to gain power and reputation. We see this in many places, Mexico being a good example.
Legalization of drugs in the US would reduce crime rates, reduce the number of addicts, save money, and better society. Study after study show this.
Not only this, the drug war fuels racism on every level.
People of color are no more likely to use or sell illegal drugs than white people — yet from 1980 to 2007, blacks were arrested for drug law violations at rates 2.8 to 5.5 times higher than white arrest rates.
Police often will go into poorer neighborhoods and arrest people there because it is easier, low-hanging fruit. Why go search for a wealthy white man doing drugs who can afford lawyers and has connections, when they can go into a poor neighborhood and easily arrest people with no money or connections, making the whole process easier for them? This attests to the stat and the skew you see in the data where blacks are far more likely to be arrested even when whites use drugs at the same rate.
The graphic above shows a steep increase in incarcerations not long after US President Nixon declared drug abuse to be “public enemy number 1”, adding to the big war on drugs.
Where They Tried It, It Works
- In Vancouver, they have government-sponsored shooting rooms for heroin addicts to have regulated use. Since opening, addicts dropped 80%, and see a 10 year increase in life expectancy on the downtown east side. (?, ?)
- In 2001, Portugal decriminalized personal possession of all drugs, meaning no one is punished for using or having them, unless you’re a dealer (?). They then spent the saved money on helping addicts recover and educating people about safe drug use. After nearly 15 years since decriminalizing all drugs, drug use is down, drug-induced deaths are down 80%+, and HIV infection rates have been cut in half (?).
- Heroin-Assisted Treatment (HaT) Facilities are fully a part of the national health system in Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and the United Kingdom. Ireland recently began experimenting with them.
- In the 20 years since Switzerland created their HaT clinics, there hasn’t been a single overdose. HIV rates and crime are also way down. (?, ?)
Most people who support the war on drugs are doing so through misguided arguments. People care and mean well, but they are supporting it without understanding really what’s going on. It’s our goal to help people understand the real issue.
Even if you don’t do drugs or support use, legalizing or decriminalization still makes sense. It saves lives, would reduce crime, reduce addicts, save tax payers money, and just make society better. It seems counterintuitive, but everything shows this being true. If you’re in doubt, we encourage you to look into it more. See our “Learn More” page for a start.
It’s not abstract. Look at places where it has been done and see the changes. Reform works in profound ways.
There are many areas in life where we don’t know what to do and solutions aren’t clear. The war on drugs isn’t like that. Decriminalization works, legalization works, it is perhaps one of the greatest things we could do to help society with an obviously needed change.
People think with legalization there will be chaos. but it will restore order.
According to a 2008 study published by Harvard economist Jeffrey A. Miron, the annual savings on enforcement and incarceration costs from the legalization of drugs would amount to roughly $41.3 billion, with $25.7 billion being saved among the states and over $15.6 billion accrued for the federal government (?).
What percentage of people who use illegal drugs are harmed by them? 10%, according to the main drug war body, the United Nations Office of Drug Control. The overwhelming majority of people who use even the most extreme drugs are not harmed.
85% of people who use crystal meth don’t become addicts (?). We’re not advocating using it, we’re advocating regulating it! Help addicts improve their lives and build connection, bankrupt the dealers, prevent the crime, save lives!
The war on drugs is the war on us. it affects everyone, even if you don’t know it. It uses your tax dollars which could be far more efficient, in fact would save money and better society. It is a good thing for the world, and it’s our goal to raise awareness about this
So Why Are Drugs Illegal?
A better question, why were drugs banned in the first place, about 100 years ago? The New York Times ran a story typical of the time, headlined: “Negro Cocaine ‘Fiends’ New Southern Menace.” One medical expert put it bluntly: “The cocaine nigger”, he warned, “sure is hard to kill.” It started over racism! This was the biggest reason why drugs were first banned in the US, and then across the world.
It’s worth reading into the history if you want to understand the full story. The basic premise is:
- It started 100 years ago with Harry Anslinger and was originally an issue with racism and his depise of blacks.
- In the 1970’s, Nixon declared to step up the war on drugs, declaring drug abuse as “public enemy #1”.
- Since, we learn in schools that addiction is because of drug hooks, but fail to mention the connection issue. Right now much of society doesn’t understand the scope of the war on the drugs in the US, and how it affects the rest of the world (the US leads, others often follow).
- Studies in the US are biased toward fighting it, not proving it ineffective. Funding allocation to studies is heavily biased. Studies that have been done by non-government research shows it doesn’t work and there are better alternatives.
- Many organizations are setup to fight it, but we need to get more people aware and interested. Once enough people are aware of it, change will come.
If you have doubts about what is posted on this page, checkout our other pages below.
This is one of the big issues that western society has wrong, and it affects the entire world. Let’s fix it.
How can you help?
Share this page (can use the social icons on the left). Raise awareness about it. Educate yourself.
There are many ways to get directly involved, but we believe the biggest issue at the moment is the lack of awareness of the scale of the issue, and also how precisely backwards the war on drugs is. Because it is a counter-intuitive issue (that legalizing actually leads to a safer society with less drug addicts), it is important to educate people and change societies perspective on the issue. Everything we’re told growing up about the war on drugs is wrong.
Together, let’s resolve this war on drugs.
If you’re interested in learning more, checkout our Learn More page.
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