In his book Chasing the Scream, Johann Hari describes the ways in which drug prohibition leads to downward spirals for those dealing with drug addiction. From what he has seen first hand, the drug war doesn’t stop people from using drugs and doesn’t help the planet get closer to a point where no one uses or abuses drugs, but instead creates more drug users. It forces drug addicts to the lowest possible rung on our social ladder and ensures they can never improve their lives.
Hari writes, “Prohibition—this policy I have traced across continents and across a century—consists of endlessly spreading downward spirals. People get addicted so we humiliate and shame them until they become more addicted. They then have to feed their habit by persuading more people to buy the drugs from them and become addicted in turn. Then those people need to be humiliated and shamed. And so it goes, on and on.”
People who abuse drugs and develop drug addictions are pushed out of our homes, out of public spaces, and out of the work force. We force them into dangerous situations where they can be taken advantage of, abused, and harmed by tainted drugs and needles. When people become so isolated and have no connections to help improve their lives, the only thing they can turn to is more drugs. To finance their habit they begin dealing drugs, often mixing the drug with other substances to have more to sell. They pressure the few people they have connections with to become drug users, so they can have some income to then further their habit.
The drug war doesn’t help rehabilitate these people, doesn’t show them that we care about them and want them to get better. It tells them they are worthless, and discourages and degrades them. The entire system creates negative downward spirals in peoples lives, in communities, and in our economy. It propels itself, creating the evil that it lives to fight against.