In the 1980s, the Reagan Administration implemented severe penalties for those who used drugs. “Addicts” as they were labeled, were locked up for lengthy prison terms and weren’t given help. The Obama Administration is changing a long-held stance on drug addiction and in turn, changing people’s attitudes about addiction. Read on to learn more.
In the 1980s, when President Ronald Reagan was in office, he implemented an anti-drug crusade also known as the “War on Drugs, ” which stressed harsh, harsh penalties for those convicted of drug possession and the intent to sell drugs. They were sentenced to lengthy prison terms and were stigmatized by society. But nothing was done to help them get clean and sober. So when they re-entered society, they succumbed back into old habits and addictions.
Now, after extensive scientific research has linked drug dependence and addiction with medical and psychological problems, including genetic mutations that make certain peoples’ brains more susceptible to addiction, the Obama administration is taking a different stance, one that favors rehabilitation rather than just corporal punishment. This was evident when the Office of National Drug Control Policy briefed the media this month.
The Office of National Drug Control Policy spoke of the Obama administration now taking an unprecedented approach to addressing addiction problems pertaining to drugs, including both street drugs and prescription drugs. Obama’s chief theory is that you cannot “arrest away the nation’s drug problems. ” Instead they feel people must be rehabilitated and treated for addiction, a real medical condition.
The problem with taking a treatment-oriented approach rather than corporal punishment is that it costs a lot of money, public dollars that could be spent elsewhere. Addiction treatment is something many people, especially those in lower and even median income brackets, can actually afford. Rehabilitation centers aka “rehab” have always had a reputation of luxurious, plush facilities – the complete opposite of prison wards and even sterile institutions.
Obama’s plan and more importantly, public tax dollars, can’t possibly pay for every drug addict to attend these types of treatment centers, but perhaps his attitude can make addiction treatment more accessible and affordable for lower income populations and working-class people. Perhaps his plan can give people more chances to get clean rather than throwing them behind bars for ten years because the nature of their disease has become a “burden” to society, creating crime that the police can’t contain.
The Obama Administration has already spent $10.4 billion on drug enforcement and treatment programs, designed to help people get sober and maintain sobriety. The previous administration spent $9.2 billion. Read that again…That’s $1 billion more being allocated towards drug treatment in an economic recession going towards helping people who really need it.
While some may not agree with spending public tax dollars on helping people get sober, it goes a long way in helping change public perception of drug addiction. Obama’s approach is helping to foster a compassionate attitude towards addiction, that addicts are, in fact, suffering from a disease and prison sentences aren’t logical means to curtail a problem, just a short-term band-aid solution.
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