The War on Addiction: Abuse in America: Fresh Research and Shifting Views of Treatment Are Opening New Fronts in a Deadly Struggle
Maybe you've seen the movie: Dad, an Ohio judge and the nation's new drug czar, needs a cocktail to "take the edge off." Mom has her own youthful history with drugs and scoffs at Dad's suggestion that she was just "experimenting." Their 16-year-old daughter, a lovely straight-A student at a fancy private school, starts freebasing cocaine, then turns tricks to pay for her habit.
Whatever happens next month at the Oscars, the movie "Traffic" is a cinematic IV injection--a jolting reminder of the horrors of drugs and the drug war. After a campaign in which both parties all but ignored the drug issue, director Steven Soderbergh manages the nearly impossible feat of illuminating a national debate without taking sides (both reformers and hard-liners like the movie), beyond attaching a patina of hopelessness to the whole issue.
Actually, the future may not be quite as bleak as the film suggests. While policy revolutions--like legalizing narcotics or somehow eradicating supply--are pipe dreams, change is coming to the world of addiction and drug policy. Voters in several states are far ahead of the politicians, approving ballot initiatives that offer more treatment options. "Drug courts" that allow judges to impose substance-abuse treatment in place of jail have grown fiftyfold since the mid-1990s, part of a new understanding that, even with frequent relapses, treatment is much less expensive for society than prison and interdiction. All of the former drug czars as well as the man rumored to be President Bush's choice for the job, retired Col. James McDonough, stress treatment and demand-side reduction as their first priority, though the funding decisions have yet to catch up to the new rhetoric.
More broadly, this relatively peaceful interlude in the nation's drug history (half as many regular drug users as in 1979 and the crack epidemic …
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Publication information: Article title: The War on Addiction: Abuse in America: Fresh Research and Shifting Views of Treatment Are Opening New Fronts in a Deadly Struggle. Contributors: Not available. Magazine title: Newsweek. Publication date: February 12, 2001. Page number: 36. © 2009 Newsweek, Inc. All rights reserved. Any reuse, distribution or alteration without express written permission of Newsweek is prohibited. For permission: www.newsweek.com. COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group.
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