One word can sometimes change the way one views things. To wit: if one adds the word “other” to alcohol and drugs (alcohol and other drugs), one’s perspective is likely to change. The failure to use it in normal parlance speaks to an arbitrary distinction that has for too long been accepted.
It is difficult to argue that alcohol is not a drug, and the same applies to nicotine. Further, like almost all recreational drugs, they offer an immediate “high” followed by a “low” as the pleasure chemicals oscillate back to stasis. “Weed,” cocaine, heroin (OXY), etc. do exactly the same thing. The fundamental distinction is that they have been made illegal, and the results of use may be more dramatic. Users also may be marginally more likely to become addicted. Interestingly, one is more likely to die coming off alcohol than other drugs, but the road back is more difficult.
One source of these sanctimonious laws was blatant racism. “Weed” was the drug of choice in the Black culture years ago. It was believed by the public to drive young Black males into a frenzy which put White girls at risk. Opiates were the drugs of choice brought here by Chinese railway workers well over a hundred years ago. Orientals were therefore suspect. Further, after massive overuse of opiates treating the wounded during and after Woodrow Wilson’s war led to serious addiction problems in veterans, the solution was–make them illegal.
That is the balm of the superficial, those who think that closing a legal door solves the problem. If individuals want anything, from untaxed cigarettes in New York City to cocaine or meth, they will get it because a criminal enterprise will always be happy to accommodate them. Prohibition was in large part responsible for the rise of the Mafia. Inner city gangs, foreign terrorists, corrupt governments, etc. feed off the profits of the “drug war.”
The point is that, lacking the word “other,” it is too easy to accept a qualitative difference that does not exist. Further, we incarcerate over 2 million persons and spend 2 billion a year in Florida alone because of the effects of drugs. Virtually every female in prison is there as a result of our “war on drugs.”
Perhaps it is time to rethink the problem. “Rethink” may be inaccurate as it is difficult to associate thought with those who brought us to this sorry pass.
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