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Will Legalizing Narcotics Increase Addiction Rates?

Despite serious discussion on the subject among public and private institutions, legalizing narcotics in the US is unlikely to occur anytime soon – primarily out of fear of significantly increased abuse and addiction rates. However, there is no convincing evidence that indicates legalization of drugs will lead to more addicted individuals. In fact, prior to the last century, most drug laws did not exist and societies still carried on and advanced rapidly without much concern for such things. Today is a very different matter indeed.

The idea drugs being legal will somehow lead to more abuse and addiction is based on the fact that substances will be much more easily available – and cheaper – if they are decriminalized, taxed and regulated. However, this doesn’t seem to be true based on the failed state of the War on Drugs. Meaning, most drug users have no difficulty finding drugs, and many are able to pay for them as well. And being that the War on Drugs has been fought for going on a half century with no discernable progress, it could actually be argued that there might be fewer addicts if drugs were legal and controlled.

To examine this further we really only need to look at two modern societies that have made some drugs legal – or tolerated – for use by citizens. The first example is The Netherlands, which has long maintained a policy of tolerance toward marijuana, hash and other soft drug use. Despite this, there are no more addicts in the country than anywhere else; probably because there’s no hysteria over the availability of these substances nor any real risk of using them. Denmark, Jamaica, Costa Rica and a number of other countries have similar policies, with no higher incidences of addiction.

Another example is England, which has made heroin and similar drugs available to addicts for most of the last 100 years. These drugs are generally prescribed to help alleviate addictions to other drugs and are typically only used in a drug treatment setting (1), but one of the primary opposing views to this system is that these drugs could be diverted to the street. Of course, if the drugs were legal this would not be an issue.

However, other countries like Pakistan have liberal laws concerning the use of drugs like opium, and despite the wide availability of the drug and an entire culture that exists to support it, the country’s overall problems with addiction are not much better – or worse – than other countries that persecute similar drug users.

While it’s difficult to say for certain whether there would be a change in the level of addiction in the United States if we began to legalize drugs, what we do know is that by stripping power away from the useless War on Drugs, we could re-appropriate millions of those War dollars to preventative measures and treatment options. This would effectively destroy the criminal element of drug trafficking virtually overnight, and lead to far less violence and crime related to drug seeking and acquisitions.

But regardless of the legal status of drug use, if you’re suffering from an addiction you should know that you can get help right now simply by picking up the phone. We’re here 24 hours per day to provide you with an immediate consultation and help you enroll in one of the most successful inpatient drug rehab programs in the country. Call now, and start the rest of your life today.

(1) Wikipedia Heroin Etymology

About The Contributor
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More