War on Drugs Not Effective at Protecting American Youth
The war on drugs is failing, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). In 2009, more people died as a result of drug use than from all traffic accidents combined. And despite the fact that over $1 trillion has been spent since 1971 trying to deter people from illegal substance use, not much has changed.
The anti-drug campaign kicked off during President Richard Nixon’s term in office. But since its inception, the war on drugs has not accomplished what it set out to do: reduce our country’s consumption of illegal drugs. A study commissioned by Rehabs.com called “Drug Bless America” shows that since 1980, the number of individuals detained on drug charges has risen from 40,000 inmates to its current population of 500,000.
U.S. Drug Use
Of the 2.3 million worldwide users of illegal drugs, Americans are some of the biggest customers. If all U.S. drug consumers were grouped together as a nation, they would constitute the fifth largest country in the world. Americans still consume 22 tons of heroin, and 165 tons of cocaine each year. Many of these users are adolescents who end up spending their life in prison for lack of a better option.
Figures for 2008 indicate that only about 81 of the 450 tons of heroin circling the globe that year was apprehended. Cocaine is even more prevalent, with 865 tons produced that same year. Some dealers are just high school students – for these and others, the drug market promises a quick buck. It is estimated that the global heroin market is in the neighborhood of $55 billion while cocaine sales have reached $88 billion. Despite the cost of these drugs increasing with stiffer regulation, it remains more accessible to the masses than ever.
Effects on Youth
According to evidence uncovered by the GAO, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has let American youth down. Despite ONDCP’s five year plan to diminish the use and effects of illegal drugs throughout the country, all but one initiative has gone largely unfulfilled. And on top of it all, according to the Rehabs.com study the U.S. spends 58 percent less to educate an individual child than it does keeping one offender incarcerated.
The effects of drugs on the nation are incomprehensible. In 2009, 37,000 Americans died in drug-related deaths. Somebody’s son or daughter dies as the result of drugs every 14 minutes, and during the previous 10 years the number of drug deaths doubled. Additionally, money spent on drugs takes away from what would typically be reinvested back into the economy each year. Perhaps worst of all, the American appetite for illegal drugs has also resulted in the violent murders of many innocent individuals across the border as cartels seek to protect their trade.