There is no doubt that a substance problem can be the worst thing in a person's life. It can create a lifestyle that is physically and mentally unhealthy. A person who is addicted to drugs has the following problem: by following their desires, their wants, their urges and cravings, by listening to their needs, they fail themselves. By feeding their indulgences, those with a substance addiction simply worsen their own condition. Some drugs, like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, are addictive enough that they stimulate theft and other morally reprehensible acts, but there are just as many cases where such chemicals force people to get jobs that they hate to supply their hunger. In either case, the individual begins sacrificing their soul just to enjoy their high. Instead of being a multi-colored palette of experiences, life becomes an endless race to maintain a state of complete and uninterrupted intoxication. Some people can be addicted while sustaining an ethical and cultured existence. Others suffering from substance dependency, however, have only one meaning to their lives.
Since I have written a great deal on drugs and their positive effects on humanity, it is only fair that I give my opinion on addiction. It appears to be the primary reason for the current prohibition of intoxicants. If I weren't to address the question of chemical dependency, it simply would not be fair to my opponents in the drug debate. Their argument is as follows: drug addiction has created so much pain and suffering, that our only recourse as responsible and intelligent citizens is to ban all substances that inebriate the user. The American legal system, as it stands today, is the greatest persecutor of the drug user. In its attempts to smother the drug epidemic, the government wages its war on drugs. The prevailing attitude among the ruling class is that anything must be done to stop this menace to society. Even though I agree with my opponents that drug addiction is real, that it infects a sizable portion of society, and that it is harmful, I disagree with their methods on solving this problem.
If a person discovers that a close, loved one is addicted to drugs, the last thing they would ever do is call the police to arrest that person. Drug addicts suffer from a personal problem, not much different than those addicted to gambling or those with anger management, or those who can't quit smoking cigarettes. Today, the state is arresting people for having these personal problems. The government is putting them in a population of rapists and murderers, with the absurd notion that once they rejoin society, they will be "rehabilitated." To heal those who suffer from alcoholism, there are support groups, psychological treatment, and a wealth of highly trained staff. Those are the methods that we promote when it comes to helping those with any personal problem. It is only by addressing the problem and treating it directly that we can ever achieve a solution to our own psychological issues. Knowing this, it is our duty as a society to promote this method for treating drug addiction. But, our state is a coercive state -- it rules by power and force, which ultimately translate to violence. The duly elected members of our establishment feel a thrill to swing their hammer. If it is a brilliant idea to imprison those who suffer from addiction, then why don't we impose the same sentences on those who smoke cigarettes, or those who accidentally slip on their diet plan? Why not bring back alcohol prohibition? I'm sure that those police officers who raid medical marijuana growers would definitely love to participate on a raid on Alcoholics Anonymous.
When a person's addiction drugs causes them to lose control of most of their life, the best thing they can do for themselves is to stop using drugs. The most absolute worst thing that could happen to them would be imprisonment. Conservatives still support the "power equals force" theory. The state has an army of police officers to subdue the population. By threatening this type of punishment on the population, people can be coerced in to abstaining from drugs, ultimately immunizing them from addiction and its horrible effects on health. Animals are similarly trained in the same way, by a system of rewards and punishments, to encourage or discourage certain behavior. This isn't something new: the established order seeking social control by treating the people like sheep. The fact is that human beings are not simple enough to be coerced by threats or controlled by rewards. (And, if you want to get technical about it, neither are animals.) What kind of people are produced by a social that is so coercive? It produces citizens that obey every order, carrying out every command of authority -- at one moment they tremble at whatever punishment might come, at the next moment they are pleased and satisfied with their reward... This type of coercive authority produces the ideal citizens of the Third Reich: men and women who are willing to turn their leader's dreams into a reality, no matter what their own personal or social cost.
A psychological issue simply cannot be threatened away. If we genuinely want to rehabilitate people, to make them confident and a value to others emotionally, then we certainly can't go about it with threats. If it was that simple, we could just threaten away alcoholism. The new message of the ruling order would be this: in order to cure people of alcoholism, we are incarcerating all individuals who are proven guilty of using alcohol. By imprisoning these innocent, sick people, are we rehabilitating them? The answer is no. Psychotherapy is an important part of rehabilitation. Counseling and treatment can change a person; it can help them discover the source of their problems, it can help them remove that source. It is no different when it comes to drug addiction. After all, psychologists who treat those with drug dependency also treat those who are alcohol dependent -- and this would make sense, since alcohol is also a drug. If the government is not imprisoning alcoholics, chronic gamblers, overeaters, smokers, homosexuals, and offbeat artists, then it becomes a living contradiction when it imprisons drug addicts.
The system maintains an unfair standard for society. It seeks to punish those of us who use chemicals to tap in to the unconscious parts of our minds. It is a personal activity, something that has no direct effect on those around the user. To outlaw it is equivalent to banning any type of harmless preference, whether it's religion, diet, hobbies, or career. There are certain cultures where one's profession is determined by their parent's profession, while opium remains the most popular drug. People born on different parts of the globe are not that much different than each other. Whether it's a ban on drug's, or a certain religion, or a style of artwork, the problem is the same: a government that is overstepping its bounds in "protecting its citizens." And, just as in every other case of a government committing unjust acts, to change the situation, we must break the law. Martin Luther King once wrote, "I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law." ["Letter From a Birmingham Jail," written while in jail by Martin Luther King Jr, 1963.] We are criminals like Martin Luther King, but I believe can evolve. Until we can arrange a one-million man smoke-in on the lawn of the Whitehouse, I don't suggest any person to use drugs openly where they can be arrested.
No one with any sense is in favor of arresting individuals addicted to drugs. But, few people are willing to accept the idea of "legalizing drugs." The idea behind legalization (or "decriminalization"), however, is just that: those who are caught with small amounts of any controlled substance will not be prosecuted, nor will be they interrogated or harassed by the police. While there is a great deal of sympathy of those addicted to drugs, there is little sympathy for those who distribute these substances. The drug dealer is looked at as the man who sells poison to the children of his community. Much of the antipathy towards chemical distributors is undeserved. Marijuana and psychedelic drug sellers, for example, hold a high code of ethics, something that even the DEA has admitted. Heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine dealers, much like their users, are less considerate and feeling. What many people don't realize is that most dealers are people themselves who have habits -- they are doing the only thing they know how to survive. Again, the drug dealer just like the drug addict is simply a pawn in a much larger social game. If poverty weren't so rampant, if Capitalism left the ghettos untouched, then perhaps these types of tragedies wouldn't have to be endured.