Where should we focus our efforts in the War on Drugs?Over forty years ago, President Richard Nixon declared a “War on Drugs.” Over 700,000 people a year are arrested on drug charges, and the...

Where should we focus our efforts in the War on Drugs?

Over forty years ago, President Richard Nixon declared a “War on Drugs.” Over 700,000 people a year are arrested on drug charges, and the courts are clogged with low-level drug arrests. Many of those arrested do have substance-abuse issues. As a nation, should we continue to pursue drug issues in the courts or should more emphasis and money be placed in treatment and intervention?

Expert Answers
Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The core issue of this debate is a very tricky one.  Is the supply or the demand the issue, and what is the best way to get to a positive solution.  I think the war on drugs in its current state is much like the Vietnam War decades ago.  We have a general idea of what we want to happen, but there is no clear goal or predetermined "victory".  Everyone's efforts from enforcement agencies, to counselors, to the courts are admirable, but their isn't a clear definition of purpose and no ultimate direction.

I differ from the post above, in that I believe in attacking the supply, not the demand.  To fully end the demand for drugs, you have to solve the underlying issues that cause people to turn to drugs.  Some will just do drugs for the thrill, and I don't believe any amount of prevention or counseling can fix that daredevil spirit in some people.  Others turn to drugs to seek relief from the problems of their lives.  Again, I don't see how the government can effectively or realistically prevent sorrow in the world.

I do believe that an overhaul of our judicial approach to drugs would be beneficial, as well as an increase in border security.  It is a simple truth that drugs are widely available in our schools and our cities.  So long as the drugs are readily available, I believe there will always be people ready to use them.  With more troops and technology guarding our borders  and a refocused court system I believe a true difference could be made in the struggle to protect our nation from the effects of drug use by significantly reducing the supply.

One thing I am absolutely opposed to is increased legalization as a method of controlling the drug problem on America.  The link below shows the highly effective solutions to drugs used by Sweden, and our leaders would be wise to study the methods they used to gain such positive results.


Michael Ugulini eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Demand is the issue here. The focus of the War on Drugs needs to be on this demand side of the equation. Focusing on supply may rid some suppliers or lessen their activities, but there's always another supplier ready to move in and take their place. As long as North Americans (the predominant drug users in the world) continue with their insatiable appetite for drugs the War on Drugs will be a never-ending war, in essence a failed war.

If consumers gave up buying hot dogs, Oscar Mayer would have been out of business decades ago. It's no different with drugs - no matter what excuses anyone makes. It's time North Americans admitted the fact that their hunger for drugs continually exacerbates the drug problem. 

eNotes - Illegal Drugs

U.S. leads the world in illegal drug use

Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

From my observations, there are two issues, one is a legal one while the other is a user intervention/treatment one. The supply chain of drugs seems to have become far more sinister and "industrialized"; one might dub drug suppliers the new Robber Barons of the 21st century. This is decidedly a situation for criminal action in law enforcement agencies and courts. Users span the spectrum from people in incurable chronic pain and with chronic illnesses who self-medicate to young professional who think they are reinventing social entertainment. Intervention and treatment are decidedly the route for this second issue. Perhaps this even ties back to another DB post about alcohol on college campuses as the drugs-for-entertainment (which can easily escalate out of the "entertainment" category) begins for many on college campuses.


pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am firmly of the opinion that we need more treatment and intervention.  We need to go after the demand for drugs, not the supply.  The strategy of attacking the supply of drugs seems to have failed, as has the strategy of attacking demand by putting users in jail.  We should try to move our focus to preventing people from wanting to buy drugs in the first place.  It seems clear that any demand for drugs will be met by the suppliers.  Therefore, the only feasible option is to reduce the demand by helping people to kick their need for drugs.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I do not think it is right to spend so much time and money on arresting drug users.  The focus should be on dealers.  Also, we should find a way to eliminate demand.  We can legalize some drugs that are no more harmful than tobacco or alcohol.