|Fighting addiction at the source|
|Thursday, 23 February 2012 13:03|
The premature passing of another entertainment icon to addiction has again put the spotlight on drug abuse. For the young and old, famous and ordinary, addiction still plagues thousands of Americans. Although the sale of illegal drugs has fallen since the Nixon administration declared the "war on drugs" in 1971, the source of illegal drugs still thrives. The resilient flow of illegal drugs into the United States, through the Caribbean, Central and South America, is the final hurdle in the war on drugs and addiction.
The "war on drugs" has depended on a mix of drug bans and regulations, foreign aid and even military intervention. The cost of fighting drug use has placed a heavy burden on the national budget. For the 2013 fiscal year, the Office of the National Drug Control Policy requested $25.6 billion for its operations, an increase of $415.3 million from the 2012 fiscal year.
There is no denying that there has been some success on this large, decades-long investment. The Office of National Drug Control Policy (NDCP), responsible for destroying the chain of supply for illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin, reported a one-third reduction in the rate of drug use in America since the 1970s.
But the war is far from over. The NDCP has also reported that 10 percent of American eighth graders have reported using an illicit drug in the past month, and every four minutes someone in the U.S. is sent to treatment through drug courts. The estimated cost of addiction to the U.S. economy is $6,120 per second, in loss of labor productivity and the additional cost drug abuse puts on the healthcare and criminal justice systems.
The Obama administration should be commended for its commitment to fighting drug addiction, with its focus on addiction prevention programs. But in today's poor economic climate, preventing individuals from seeking comfort in drug-use may be an up-hill battle. Illegal drugs are still too accessible for many financially struggling individuals who are forced to depend on the drug trade for their livelihood. The best cure to addiction is still to cut off its source.
The current administration has recognized to some extent the role the drug trade plays in the ultimate prevention of drug addiction. Just last month the White House's NDCP director, Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, met with ambassadors of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama in Washington to discuss U.S. efforts to prevent illegal drugs entering the U.S.
These efforts took a hit however when the overall budget for dismantling the international drug organization, including those operating in Central America and the Caribbean, was reduced by six percent. For the 2013 fiscal budget of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, the NDCP has requested $11.5 million, a $6.3 million decline from the 2012 fiscal budget. The NDCP attributes the funding reduction to their "focus on training and capacity building for law enforcement and less emphasis on logistical support and equipment."
In the war on drugs, there needs to be a renewed commitment to fighting the source of drugs transported through U.S. ports and across its borders. The less Americans, famous and ordinary, that can find illegal drugs, the lower the economic cost on the country and more importantly, the lower the cost on American lives.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 23 February 2012 15:55|