If you think drugs are to blame, you may be confusing the problems of the War on Drugs with the problems of drugs. After all, prohibition isn’t drug control, it is the abdication of all control to the black market. It is not heroin of known strength that is causing so many overdoses. It is bags of unknown strength purchased on the black market that are killing people. This is because of prohibition. Fentanyl (and other opiate analogues) cut into heroin kills people. This is also because of prohibition. People in states without good samaritan laws who are afraid to call 911 after a friend or acquaintance overdoses is what kills people. Again, because of prohibition.
All drug use carries risks, but when those risks are addressed in an honest and nonjudgmental way, and when drug use is handled as a health issue rather than a criminal issue, things change. People’s relationships with the substances change. Those who develop abusive relationship with substances, for whatever reasons, actually have state-provided resources to help them regain control over their lives. This is proven to work in countries like Portugal and Switzerland. And cities across America are finally catching on with the creation of Safe Injection Facilities (colloquially known as “SIFs”), which have proven to curb overdose rates and prevent spreading of diseases such as HIV (even the AMA supports SIFs).
This message comes in light of the Support. Don’t Punish. 2017 Global Day of Action. June 26 is the United Nations’ International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which as stated on supportdontpunish.org, “is a day on which many governments celebrate their contributions to the global ‘war on drugs’. In the past, some governments have even commemorated this day by holding public executions or beatings of drug offenders.
By taking part in the Global Day of Action, you can help to “reclaim” the message on this important day. […] The harms being caused by the war on drugs can no longer be ignored. It is time to leave behind harmful politics, ideology and prejudice. It is time to prioritise the health and welfare of the affected populations, their families and communities.”
A solution to the damage caused by the War on Drugs, besides slowly changing drug policy, can be found in adopting “full spectrum harm reduction,” as explained by Youth RISE in this video. “Full spectrum harm reduction is the idea of recognizing and acknowledge that most of the harms that come from drugs and illicit drugs are not necessarily related to the use of drugs and the impact on the health of the individual,” states Brun Balanced from Youth RISE, “but are related to market dynamics and drug trafficking within and under the umbrella of prohibition.”
“We need to understand that everything related to how we integrated these substances into our society, into our individual life, can generate harm, and addressing these harms in specific ways and understanding where they come from and what the impacts are allows us to develop new strategies and new models of harm reduction.”