holden s. Maryland

The Prevention of Substance Abuse

Since we are in the worst drug crisis in American history, we need to shift our focus from imprisoning the users and work on the prevention of potential drug use.

Dear Future President,

Drug abuse is a worldwide epidemic that has been persistent for years. Currently we are in the midst of the worst drug crisis in United States history. The Office of National Drug Control Policy reports that nearly 80 people a day died in the U.S. in 2014 from overdoses of drugs such as heroin, fentanyl and prescription painkillers. Since then the problem has only gotten worse. If we don't do everything we can to stop this problem the number of users and overdoses will only increase.

The cause of the current epidemic came from several factors. According to a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration report, in 2012 217 million opioid prescriptions were filled out. this caused the Federal Government to alter prescription painkillers to make them harder to abuse. with prescription painkillers being less available people had to turn to heroin which was a cheap and easily accessible alternative. In some cases heroin can be fatal. By 2014 west Virginia had the highest overdose deaths in the nation, out of 100,000 people who overdosed 35.5% of the cases were fatal. While not as many people die from overdoses long term effects like brain damage that can be compared to having several concussions. The failure of the War on Drugs is seen as another cause. Since the drug war was first introduced in 1971 the government has put the majority of their funding into law enforcement and interdiction efforts. The united states imprisons more people than any other country When the war on drugs began there were 200 thousand people incarcerated but over the course of 45 years that number has increased by over 900 percent. Now there are more than 2 million people in our prisons. There were 1.5 million drug arrests in 2014, 80% were for possession and half were for marijuana Instead of arresting the dealers the majority of those arrested are the users who require treatment. Money that could be used for treatment is used to imprison addicts.

With all the users, dealers and people in treatment it begs the question, what are we doing to stop this epidemic? With Obama's new approved budget of $1.1 billion dollars there will be more money put into treatment and research as well as educational programs to prevent drug abuse before it happens.

In my opinion the best way to stop addiction and drug abuse is prevention. If a person is never introduced to a drug and is taught to stay away the chance of them using it is greatly reduced. Prevention efforts will help to make the drugs seem less attractive and more dangerous to kids. Efforts will also include ways to draw adults away from drugs Obama's budget plan is a great start education users and potential users of the dangers of substance abuse

Both the Republican and Democratic parties have plans to fight drug abuse. Some want to close off the border to Mexico so that the drugs will stop coming in from Mexico; politicians even plan to go to extremely drastic measures as to build a wall bordering Mexico. This plan is utterly unprecedented and will most definitely never come to be a reality. They wish to force Mexico to pay for the wall which will never happen and the us can not afford to pay $21 billion dollars to build this wall. Others plan to see the epidemic as a disease more than a crime and plan to improve care towards those who are using or trying to recover. They are also trying to improve education in schools for anti drug prevention in an attempt to stop drug abuse.

I encourage the next president to follow Obama's path to fight addiction and to stop imprisoning people who are using. Money needs to go towards prevention and recovery.