To The Daily Sun,
A Nov. 1 "60 Minutes" segment reminded us that drug related tragedies can occur in any family in any community. Bill O'Reilly reported that about 44,000 Americans die annually from drug overdoses.
Drug addicts kill or injure many thousands more people accidentally or while committing crimes to fund their drug habits. The lives of the victims, addicts, and their families are turned upside down.
Our nation's drug epidemic costs us dearly: monetarily, emotionally, lost productivity, corruption, societal breakdown, lawlessness, bad role models, etc. Yet, other than efforts to treat overdoses and improve rehab, I don't see anything but business as usual to fight this personal and national catastrophe and disgrace.
Unless we are happy with the approximately 50,000 drug-related annual deaths — overdoses plus homicides, it's way past time to end the scourge of drugs. Either we should give away drugs for free — to reduce the crime related costs — and focus on rehab, treating overdoses, and burying the tens of thousands of overdose and drug related accident victims, or we need to get serious about stopping illegal drug use once and for all.
Whichever choice we make, it is time for society's attitude toward drugs must change. We must all stop tolerating illegal or excessive drug use. It is time to demonize drugs, drug users, drug sellers, and any glorification of drug use.
Every user and person considering using drugs must know that they will be considered a pariah. Some people will say, "You can't condemn the users, they are victims." I sympathize with this, but unless everyone knows and condemns drug use, we'll keep burying overdose victims.
The billions of dollars we spend in the "war on drugs" seem mostly for show. The "war on drugs" effort cannot be considered serious as long as we leave open probably the biggest source of illegal drugs, our southern border. The border must be sealed.
But this isn't enough if we don't seriously deal with drug traffickers and dealers. Unfortunately, the sentencing guidelines for drug crimes were recently reduced, and consequently President Obama is giving early releases to drug criminals, even many with violent histories. These actions will encourage, not discourage, more drug dealing, more drug use, and the result will be more dead Americans, more anguished families, and higher costs to society.
The way we are dealing with addicts, dealers, and convicted criminals seems more like a plot to destroy our country and hurt American citizens than a "war on drugs."
Compared to their constant efforts calling for gun control, the efforts of our politicians to deal with America's drug problem is paltry, even though drugs kills at least four to five times more people than gun-related homicides and accidents combined.
Unfortunately illegal drugs are only part of the problem. Legal addictive and/or psychotropic drugs are far too often prescribed even for minor problems. A 2011 Medco Health Solutions report indicates that one in five adults take at least one psychiatric drug; similar drugs are used on many children. Many of these drugs increase the risk of suicide, violent behavior (many mass killers were on these drugs), and often lead to illegal drug use.
It is time to demand that American leaders of all types (political, school, religious, pop culture, media, medical, athletes, etc.) start seriously fighting this epidemic. We all should frequently condemn drug use, making everyone feel it is disgusting and harmful, and the complete opposite of cool.
Taking, promoting, glorifying, transporting, selling or any assistance to the sale or use of drugs should be condemned as loudly, frequently, and viciously as we condemn racism, sexism, murder, rape, or any other unacceptable act. Every media outlet should repeatedly condemn drug use and drug users and demand stricter sentences for drug crimes.
The border must be closed to stop the superhighway flow of drugs. Drug dealers should be prosecuted as attempted murderers or murderers if their drug sales led to a death. Corrupt officials should be prosecuted as accomplices to murder or attempted murders. Leniency for drug crimes must cease.
It took "60 Minutes" and Bill O'Reilly to impress me with the magnitude of America's drug problem. It is not enough to just feel sorry for victims of drug overdoses, drug related crimes, and their family members; and it is not enough to just throw money at the victims and the problem.
It is time for everyone to join and make the war against drugs a serious, society-wide effort. This kind of effort greatly reduced the percentage of Americans using tobacco. We can do the same with drugs and annually save tens of thousands of lives, maybe your spouse, parent, sibling, child, grandchild, or maybe even you.