America’s Absurd Relationship With Drugs


Far from ‘winning’ any any
war on drugs (as if such a thing could even be measured), we feast on them within American society
and condemn the mere whisper of their use
among the athletes we revere. Don’t dare enhance
their performance.
Meanwhile,
out there among us ordinary dudes, annual sales for Cialis last year topped
$2.3 billion. Cialis is an erectile dysfunction drug. Talk about performance enhancement.

Then
there’s good old Prozac, for the treatment of major depressive disorder,
including post-partum depression, obsessive–compulsive disorder, bulimia
nervosa, panic disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. 
You
got a disorder, Prozac probably has an answer. No matter that it also makes you
twice as likely to suffer abnormal
dreams, abnormal ejaculation (wonder what that
means?) , anorexia, anxiety, asthenia, diarrhea, dry mouth, dyspepsia, flu
syndrome, impotence, insomnia, decreased libido, nausea, nervousness,
pharyngitis, rash, sinusitis, somnolence, sweating, tremor, vasodilatation and
yawning. 
Yawning
I could handle, but a two-fold increase of suicidal thoughts and behavior in
children and adolescents, along with a 1.5-fold increase in the 18–24 age group
is a bit much to ask for a prescribed drug. Yet sales continue at a $350
million per year clip.
The fact is that we humans are
drug-seeking mammals and have been from the get-go. Give us a leaf to chew or a
root to grind to get our kicks and there we are, chewing and grinding since the
dawn of man. But it’s gotten out of hand.
We’re such a tight-ass
conservative society that we believe law
will cure any societal ill. Even though prohibition was repealed because it was
unenforceable, our holier-than-thous keep throwing people in jail (occasionally
for life) for smoking or distributing pot—no share thy wealth with the poor in that case.
The
big brouhaha these days is on the sports pages. Banning drugs in sports does not reduce drug use, but makes
things unsafe for players (see link).
In addition to that, sports trainers are constantly made to
dance with what is and what is not permitted. Consider bike-racing star
ance Armstrong. Remember him? Cool guy until he became uncool.
He won
the Tour de France seven consecutive
times
from 1999 to 2005, but was stripped of those victories in 2012 after
a doping scandal. Armstrong was whistle-blown by a competing rider, who came down off his own high for long enough to
hire a lawyer. Career over, trophies returned and one of the most incredible
feats in sports history trashed, Armstrong had competed among a group of riders
all of whom were on some sort of
performance enhancing drug or another. He passed every he was given during
those seven victories.
Seven consecutive wins erased from the
record book—seven years after the fact.
On the increasingly
criminalized side of drug prevention, the 40 year War on Drugs is a shambles. Over a trillion dollars of taxpayer
money has thus far been spent—that’s one
thousand billion dollars
, folks. When Richard Nixon first coined the term
in 1971, he presented it to Congress as devoting more federal resources to the
prevention of new addicts, and the
rehabilitation of those who are addicted
I can (and did) buy
that, but it’s not what America delivered. What we actually got was
·      In Vietnam, in 1971 it was estimated (by the military) that
30,000 servicemen were addicted to drugs, most of them to heroin.
·      Operation Intercept, targeted at Mexican pot that almost
shut down the border and only lasted twenty days.
·      Operation Just Cause, invading Panama with 25,000 American
troops to get rid of Gen. Manuel Noriega.
·      Plan Colombia, a human rights disaster that left Columbia in
the hands of drug-lords, the very people it was designed to eliminate.
·      The Mérida Initiative, a security co-operation between the
United States and Mexico that left yet another friendly country in shambles.
·      A quadrupling of the prison rate in the US,
making us by far the largest prison
system in the world.
·      Creation of a permanent underclass, as one million ‘offenders’
are offloaded to prison every year.
·      Three-strike laws that give
shoplifters life in prison without
parole for that 3rd infraction.
·      Corrupt judges, border agents, cops and everyone up and down
the drug enforcement ladder.
·      An associated gangster establishment that makes Al Capone
look like a nostalgic relic of times past.
Legalization would
put a 40-year mistake to rest. Hell, it only took us 13 years to realize
prohibition wouldn’t work and that required the repeal of a constitutional amendment to put it in the ground. 
Twice
as many drug abuse deaths are happening today as when the ‘war’ began. That
casualty rate makes any sensible commander want to pack up his bags and take his
war back home. Three out of four Americans agree the war is a mistake.
Too many Americans enjoyed their booze
to make prohibition work. Too few
Americans
use illegal drugs to make the attempt to stop them viable. Too much political fear keeps government
from throwing the war out the window and getting down to the serious business
of feeding the hungry and housing the homeless.
We are an addictive
species of mammal, but we have an absolutely absurd relationship with that undeniable
fact.

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