American Demand for Illicit Drugs Essay

Today, most Americans are faced with a problem similar to that confronted by our ancestors 80 years ago. Demand for illicit drugs shows some signs of reduction (Goldstein, 1989; Marriot, 1990; Grinspoon, 1987), but no signs of declining drastically (Inciardi, 1991; Abadinsky, 1993). Furthermore, by reviewing literature, there are considerable reasons to doubt that tougher laws and policing are playing a significant role in reducing consumption. Lately, it comes to us as no surprise that availability for illicit drugs remains high and prices are dropping even as the purity of drugs increases. And the numbers of drug producers, smugglers, and dealers remain considerable, even as jails and prisons fill to overflowing.

In order to better figure out the current crisis it is essential to re-examine the history of prohibition laws in the United States and its consequences. Prohibition has in fact has been the cornerstone of the United States national drugs and alcohol policy since the early 1900’s (Inciardi, 1991.p.19). Legislators introduced Prohibition mainly for several reasons. First of the arguments used by prohibitionists included the medical aspect with realization that alcohol and cocaine could potentially damage our health and affected our lives. The second argument included economic aspect which focused on those who could not performed the job productively, due to side effects of illicit drug habits that by and large affected the entire country economic effectiveness as whole. The third, political aspect always captured the politicians’ agenda of promises to be tough on drugs in view of the fact, that very often among general population feelings illicit drugs and crime were closely associated.

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The social aspect was the most significant in introduction of prohibition. Husbands were spending their family’s saving stupidly on alcohol instead of essential items, e.g. Education. That problem led to family arguments, which eventually led to divorce. The problem pressurised women the most, therefore they set up the anti-saloon groups.

immoral aspect of illicit drug use; further disruption of family structure; increased public health safety hazards; disproportionate harm to the poor and minorities; increased crime due to use and addiction consequences, including economic demands; increased school and work problems due to drug-related lack of concentration, desire for achievement, and affected memory, etc….

As with all public policies we have beneficiaries and victims, both intended and unintended. When a public policy results in a disproportionate magnitude of unintended victims, there is a good reason to reevaluate the assumptions and design of the policy as is our case with illegal drugs. In case of drug-prohibition policies, the intended beneficiaries are those individuals who would become drug abusers but for existence and enforcement of the drug laws. The intended victims are those who traffic in illicit drugs and suffer the legal consequences. The unintended beneficiaries, conversely, are the drug producers and traffickers who profit handsomely from the illegality of the market, while avoiding arrest by the authorities and the violence perpetrated by other criminals. However, the unintended victims of drug prohibition policies are rarely recognized as such (Inciardi,1991,p.27).

In many ways, our predicament resembles what actually happened during prohibition. Prior to prohibition, most Americans hoped that alcohol could be effectively banned by passing laws against it production and supply. During the early years of Prohibition, when drinking declined but millions of Americans nonetheless continued to drink, Prohibition’s supporters placed their faith in tougher laws and more police and jails. After a few more years, however, increasing numbers of Americans began to realize that laws and the police were unable to eliminate the smugglers, bootleggers, and illicit producers, as long as tens of millions of Americans continued to want to buy alcohol. At the same time, they saw that more laws and police seemed to generate more violence and corruption, more crowed courts and jails, wider disrespect for government and the law, and more power and profits for gangsters. Repeal of Prohibition came to be seen not as a capitulation to AL Capone and his ilk, but as a means of both putting the bootleggers out of business and eliminating most of the costs associated with the prohibition laws.(Inciardi. 1991. p.26)

In the final analysis, the principal accomplishment of most domestic drug-enforcement efforts is not to reduce the supply or availability of illegal drugs, or even to raise the ir price; it is to punish the drug dealers who are apprehended, and cause minor disruptions in established drug markets (Inciardi, 1991,p.22)

Usually, the supporters of such thinking tend to concentrate on the necessity for continuing prohibition of the use of illegal drugs through severe penalties for production, distribution, and use. The logic Prohibition of drugs, or as we might called it the “War on Drugs” very often common believes among the government officials in whose viewpoint; certain activities are harmful to the entire society, therefore, there is an urgent need, applying various resources, to improve the situation.

Prohibition was meant to reduce the consumption of alcohol, seen by some as the devil’s advocate, and thereby reduce crime, poverty, death rates, and improve the economy and the quality of life.

The Prohibitionists hoped that the Volstead Act would decrease drunkenness in America and thereby decrease the crime rate, especially in large cities. Although towards the beginning of Prohibition this purpose seemed to be fulfilled, the crime rate soon skyrocketed to nearly twice that of the pre-prohibition period

The first and most important is that research in the United States indicates that 70 to 80 per cent of street crime–muggings, car theft, break and entry, killing of cab drivers etc.–is due to the efforts of addicts to support their habits. Add to that the deaths of addicts caused by tainted drugs or those of uncertain quality, the prostitution and related crime, and one is driven to the inescapable conclusion that the attempt to suppress the use of drugs imposes a very substantial cost on society.

It’s a fact that excessive drinking can seriously damage one’s health. Recent studies show that excess alcohol consumption can lead to a number of serious health problems, and of course there is the problem of addiction which must be taken into consideration. Many of societies’ problems today such as spouse abuse, child abuse and dysfunctional family relationships can be traced to drinking problems.


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