Illegal drug use is arguably the most despised addictive behavior. The stereotype for a drug addict is not pretty. The truth is…the drug addict is much more likely to be right under your nose.
There is another form of drug use that is legal and hiding in plain sight. The use of pharmaceutical drugs to the point of addiction has increasingly become an addiction problem that must be addressed.
The question…how best to address it? One of the options is decriminalization – whether it’s illegal drugs or legal drugs that are abused.
While convicting a person of a crime and putting them in jail may provide a period of forced sobriety, it rarely results in recovery. And, apparently, even law enforcement believes that our approach to dealing with people who use addictive substances illegally needs to change. There is an alternative approach to the problem that is based on the belief that putting people behind bars is a short-term solution to a long-term problem. Rather, treatment can be a less costly alternative that protects society and provides long-term benefit for the person fighting addiction.
Addictive Behavior Right Under Your Nose
”There are a lot of people in society who think there definitely is a need for a rethink. Even my dealings with police officers would say that decriminalisation of some substances is the only way forward, but they are in the duty of enforcing laws, so obviously they cannot publicly take those positions.”
Decriminalisation is an idea gathering force. Portugal has decriminalised heroin. Some US states have decriminalised cannabis. It’s about harm minimisation, not encouraging dangerous use of substances. In Australia, people in power know prohibition has failed, but they are afraid to confront this reality for fear of a public backlash.
A previous guest in The Zone, Professor Nick Crofts of the University of Melbourne’s Nossal Institute for Global Health, conducted a study for the Kennett government during which he spoke to dozens of politicians, police leaders and policymakers. Almost without exception, they told him prohibition should be abandoned – but there was no way they would say so publicly.
That was almost 20 years ago. O’Connor is enthused by the fact that the police are now diverting drug users away from the criminal justice system and into the health and community services system.
Clearly something needs to change. Our approach to dealing with the actions that result from addictive behavior has a history of being ineffective. Addiction is a growing problem that is global. And, with pharmaceutical or legal drug use so widespread, that’s not likely to change any time soon.
What do you think about the growing dependence on pharmaceutical drugs? Is it still an addictive behavior if a doctor prescribes it?
Let me know your thoughts below. And, share or like so that others can weigh in on the topic.