The "War on Drugs" Has Failed - Treatment Works!


By Paul Cline

The "War on Drugs" is now a clear and complete failure. After more than 35 years of wasting money on this fight, we have lost. There are no fewer drugs or drug addicts than when we started this "War."

The problem lies in what Washington has been using as the "solution." Bureaucrats in Washington (and members of the military) feel that if they can stop drugs from entering the country they will curb drug use.

This would be true if they could stop ALL the drugs from entering the country - there would be no drugs to use and it would be almost impossible to be an addict. The current reality lies in the study of economics.

The government is successful in capturing 1-3% of the drugs entering the country. The drug lords know this, and so they ship an additional 1-3% to cover these losses.


They then pass the cost of this onto the drug user by charging 10-20% more to the drug addict, thereby actually increasing their profits.

These addicts cannot ultimately afford their drug use, so they break into our homes, cars and stores to gather the extra cash, sometimes they mug us. The bulk of the crime in this country is drug related and solving the drug problem is the only solution.

The Government is attempting to solve the problem by reducing the supply of drugs, when the real problem is the DEMAND for drugs.

Reduce the demand for drugs and the shipments will be reduced by the exact same amount - simple economics. Suppliers never ship more than consumers demand or they quickly go out of business.

The solution is simple - focus more efforts on treatment. Treatment will stop the suffering of addicts and make them useful members of society. It will also stop their families, friends and neighbors from suffering.

They will no longer break into our homes and cars looking to support their habit. Crime rates will drop, jails will be reduced, children will grow up in decent homes with better values. Work productivity will rise, insurance costs will be lowered, police will have less work, abuse and drunk driving rates will drop, the list goes on and on.

Currently the Government has a 20 billion dollar budget to spend on curbing drug use - they spend 18 billion on attempting to stop drugs from coming in and only 2 billion on treatment and prevention efforts (approximate figures).

This thinking is clearly backwards. More monies need to be devoted to treatment and prevention and far less on enforcement.

Now I don't want my readers to think that I feel no monies should be spent on pursuing drug traffickers, they clearly do need to be fought and placed in jails.

The fear of getting caught is a powerful deterrent and sends the right message. The problem lies in the fact then when you catch one two more take his place, the greater the risk the more they are paid.

I would simply redistribute the way we allot our funds, I would spend 8 billion on enforcement and 10 billion on treatment and prevention programs.

With the extra treatment you will see the number of addicts drop in the first year, thereby reducing the demand. This will quickly drop the number and size of shipments to the United States and drug related crimes and health issues. The situation will improve yearly, as more and more addicts hit bottom and seek treatment.

Few people realize how these treatment efforts will virtually pay for themselves, whereas drug enforcement efforts are pure expense. When addicts stop using drugs they also require less hospital care, social services, welfare, AIDS infections drop, child services, etc.

These costs are staggering. The business sector would see a tremendous boost in increased productivity that would greatly offset the costs and how do you measure the costs in human suffering that could be avoided?

It is estimated that an average addict seriously impacts between 6-16 people and there are approximately 28 million of them in America today.

This problem leaves virtually no one untouched and our current policy has had no real impact in thirty years. The time for change is now, families and society at large are suffering daily until we shift the way we focus our energy and our dollars on solving this problem.

Every year there are less and less insurance dollars devoted to drug and alcohol treatment and treatment facilities are closing daily.

I have watched hundreds of families who want to have their child, husband or wife be treated for addiction turned away, because they didn't realize their insurance policy no longer covers this treatment.

The Government needs to step in and demonstrate that they want to fight addiction in a way that they can win, by providing treatment to those who need it.


Paul J. Cline MA CAGS CAP Ed.D (ABD) is a Trainer / Seminar Leader, University Professor, Certified Addictions Professional (CAP) and local expert on Addictions/Mental Health and Time Management.

Paul is owner of Advanced Training Seminars, providing seminars, consulting and coaching based in St. Petersburg, Florida (727) 204-0779. Visit our website at: Check out our selection of FREE articles and Useful Links & Resources.

Article Source: