Pubdate: Wed, 06 Jul 2005
Source: Muskogee Daily Phoenix (OK)
Copyright: 2005 Muskogee Daily Phoenix
Author: Stephen Heath


As a recovered abuser of crack cocaine and methamphetamine (clean more
than 11 years now), I want to echo the comments of letter writer Chris
Buors (June 27). The most urgent question for American policymakers
should be "Will criminal justice solutions do anything to reduce the
amount of meth abuse within our country?"

My personal experience, along with that of the couple thousand drug
abusers I've worked with in treatment and recovery settings, suggests
the answer is a resounding no. Yet the prevailing response across
North America is to increase penalties and levy harsher sanctions
against meth users and sellers.

Even with commercial obstacles to ingredients (which also unduly
inconvenience non-meth makers) and regardless of how many Americans
police arrest and incarcerate for meth-related offenses, not a single
addict is any closer to true recovery. The urgent priority should be
to reduce demand, not to waste time jailing users. A lifetime criminal
record combined with any significant time in prison systems is far
more destructive to the average recreational meth user than the drug
use itself.

It's time for more sensible alternatives. We need to increase access
to strong stimulants so that the illegal market for amphetamines will
be reduced. And we need to transfer the monies currently used to
incarcerate drug abusers into programs which allow treatment on demand
for any drug abuser who wants it. Such treatment should be available
regardless of the drug of abuse - whether that drug be meth, cocaine,
alcohol, nicotine or opiates.


Public Relations Director

Drug Policy Forum of Florida

Clearwater, Fla. 
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MAP posted-by: SHeath(DPFFlorida)