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The Tipping Point In The War On Drugs

2611 words - 11 pages

As described in novel The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference the course of any trend, movement, social behavior, and even the spread of a virus has a general trend line that in essence resemble a parabola with 3 main critical points. Any trend line first starts from zero, grows until it crosses the first tipping point, and then spreads like wildfire. Afterwards, the trend skyrockets to its carrying capacity (Galdwell, 2000). Then the trend gradually declines before it reaches the next tipping and suddenly falls out of favor and out of memory. Gladwell defines tipping points as the “magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire” (Gladwell, 2000).
An important application is how tipping points and trend lines apply to the present status and future course of the war on drugs. According to Webster’s dictionary, a war is the “organized effort by a government or other large organization to stop or defeat something that is viewed as dangerous or bad” (Merriam-Weber’s online dictionary, n.d.). Most people will unanimously agree that drugs and alcohol are bad and at least potentially dangerous, especially in the case substance abuse. Alcohol, drugs, and synthetic substances are associated with crime, violence, moral decay, brain damage, higher high school dropout rates, a multitude of health issues, and a myriad of other societal issues. As a society, Americans actually pay a high toll for substance abuse. The bill for tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug abuse costs Americans more than $600 billion annually in areas such as crime, unemployment, loss of productivity, and health care cost ( National Institute on Drug Abuse, n.d.). Based upon these facts, it makes logical sense that we would want to eradicate drugs from society: Removing drugs would solves or lessens many other problems, thus rationalizing a war against drugs. However, does removing drugs actually solve all the problems we listed?
Large efforts to remove licit drugs have been made since Nixon declared war against drugs in 1971. Since then certain drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, and other so called “licit drugs have become banned and incriminated with much greater rigor than alcohol during 1920’s prohibition. Subsequently, American popular culture and legal policies have adopted a general attitude of drug and alcohol abstinence with zero tolerance drug policies. This outlook is well represented by Nancy Regan’s 1981 “Just Say No” to drugs campaign and the start of the DARE drug education program in 1983 (Drug Policy Alliance, n.d.). Yet, despite 50 years after the UN Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 40 years of struggling in the US war on drugs, and an expenditure of over a trillion dollars, the war on drugs has been deemed a complete failure on every measure. In fact the consumption of cocaine has actually increased by 27% from 1998 to 2008 (The Global Commission on Drug Policy, 2011, p. 4).
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