John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


The Deadliest Epidemic

Posted on August 26, 2013

The War on Drugs

Imagine, if you can, if America treated people who had small pox as if they were criminals.

Imagine throwing them all in prison, all of the small poxers, and then throwing all of the people who gave small pox to somebody else, imagine throwing all of them in jail too.

We would have big prisons that would intermingle all of the small pox germs, killing the inmates and a healthy proportion of guards.

Imagine if we largely ignored, from a public policy standpoint, whole communities that were amid a small pox breakout and did nothing to help those communities cope with the damage.

Imagine if we decided to cut off all federal benefits for anybody who has had or will ever have small pox.

I think you would agree with me that such policies would be really, really stupid.

But that is what we are basically doing with drug abuse.

Drug abuse is killing hundreds of thousands of Americans every year in this country.  And worse, it is costing the American economy countless billions in lost revenue, in stupid expenditures , and in many other ways.

It is also sapping the strength of the American people, slowly but surely.

I have long been on the fence about legalizing recreational drug use.

I am pretty much fine with making pot legal.  I don’t think that is any more addictive than tobacco and alcohol.

But other kinds of drugs should not be legalized in the sense that tobacco and alcohol are legalized.    I don’t really want to see billboards advertising “Cocaine, get the Finest Cut Here”, or “Heroin:  the Opiate for the Masses.”

But I think we need a different approach to how we handle coke, heroin, meth, crack, and other narcotics.

We should handle this like the epidemic it has become.

Our prisons are over-flowing with drug dealers and drug users, where they not only get the chance to use more, they also get the chance to learn more about the product that they want to sell once they get back on the streets.

We need to find a way to break this cycle and the war on drugs isn’t doing it.

We have a user problem that is much like a virulent disease.

Not everybody catches it, but it can be very contagious.  It wipes out entire communities, not unlike the bubonic plague.  It makes it harder for employers to hire good workers, making many of these employers bring in foreign workers to compensate.

Instead of putting these people in hospitals, we put them in prison or we ignore them.  Instead of getting them the help they need, we cut them off from federal benefits.  Instead of doing real research into the causes of addiction and the best treatments, we waste federal dollars on stupid projects.

The drug epidemic hits all communities hard.  Rural America faces the meth epidemic.  Urban America faces the crack epidemic.  The suburbs dabble in heroin, coke and meth as well.

Why do people use drugs?  Why do they go to such lengths to feel so high?  Why won’t beer or grass do the job?

Why do these folks believe that doing these drugs is glamorous or safe or victim proof?

What strategies can be employed to really educate folks before they get addicted about the dangers of these dangerous drugs?  What works in getting people off of drugs?

We need to rethink the war on drugs and start thinking in terms of fighting an epidemic.

This is a bigger threat to our nation that Al Qaeda or the national debt.  It saps the strength of our country and it kills far too many people.

This is serious stuff and something needs to be done about it.