War on Drugs: Is It a Failure?
August 26, 2014
The War on Drugs is a campaign of prohibition of drugs with the intent to define and reduce the illegal trade of drugs. The initiative includes a set of policies that intent to discourage the production, distribution and consumption of illegal drugs. Fundamental reforms in the National drug policy are required. The American War on Drugs has failed, with devastating consequences to societies and individuals. The consistent continued use of drugs and the increasing costs for controlling its usage is what makes this war a failure. More striking than the financial costs have been the broad ...view middle of the document...
The survey has been conducted by the Federal Government since 1971, when the war on drugs was officially declared. This particular report focuses on trends between 2002 through 2012, as well as differences across population subgroups in 2012. According to the survey, illicit drugs may include marijuana, hashish, cocaine, crack, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants or prescription-type psychotherapeutics such as pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants and sedatives used non-medically or without a prescription from a licensed medical professional (SAMHSA, 2012).
In 2012, an estimated 22.2 million persons aged 12 or older were classified with substance dependence or abuse in the past year. The survey states that the rate of current illicit drug use among persons aged twelve or older slightly increased from 8.1 percent in 2002 to 9.2 percent in 2012. The rates in 2003 through 2011 ranged from 8.7 percent to 8.9 percent. Marijuana was the most commonly used illicit drug. In 2012, there were 18.9 million past month Marijuana users. Between 2002 and 2012, the rate of current Marijuana use increased from 5.8 percent to 7.3 percent, and the number of Marijuana users increased from 14.5 million to 18.9 million. Daily or almost daily use of Marijuana (20 or more days in the past month) increased from 5.1 million people in 2002 to 6.6 million in 2012 (SAMHSA, 2012).
The war on drugs is not hindering people from their continued use of illicit drugs. In fact, an estimated 2.9 million people used an illicit drug for the very first time within the past year (SAMHSA, 2012). This averages to about 7,900 initiates per day. The 2012 estimate is similar to the estimate for 2011 of 3.1 million people. A majority of these past year illicit drug initiates reported that their first drug was marijuana (65.6 percent). More than 26 percent initiated with nonmedical use of a prescription drug such as pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants and sedatives. The information collected annually by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health demonstrates that the statistics on drug usage is comparable to the statistics on drug addiction. The number of persons with drug dependence or abuse did not change between 2002 and 2012 (SAMHSA, 2012). According to research conducted by documentary filmmaker Matt Groff, the illicit drug addiction rate has remained relatively steady at about 1.3 percent since 1970, the official start of the war on drugs.
Drug control spending has skyrocketed since the launch of the war on drugs. Groff, who made the documentary on the drug war The 1315 Project, says that the costly war on drugs simply isn't working. According to Groff, the forever increasing spending budget does not correlate to lower addiction rates. The addiction rate– 1.3% – has remained the same despite spending more than $1.5 trillion since 1971 (Groff, 2012). In support of the 2014 National Drug Control Strategy, $25.4 billion in Fiscal Year 2015 is needed to reduce current...