We’re losing the war on drugs. It’s a symptom of worse ills.

by Fabius Maximus

Summary: See the casualties in the drug crisis, a growing toll despite the five decade-long war on drugs. It is the result, in part, of the fragmentation of American society, with increasing numbers of alienated people without friends or family. They are illnesses of America that we prefer not to see, let alone treat.

“I have no mouth. And I must scream.”
— Title of Harlan Ellison’s Hugo-winning short story (1967). In this collection.

We’re losing, big.

War on drugs

Nixon began a new era in US history 49 years ago with his Special Message to the Congress on Control of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs on 14 July 1969. He proclaimed the themes that have consumed so much money, diminished our Constitutional rights, and wrecked so many lives. Nixon officially declared the war on drugs on 17 June 1971.

Today we are losing, more than ever, as shown in the dozen graphs by the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), August 2018. They tell a story at least some of which you know. They tell the what, but not why. Our law enforcement try to stop the flow of drugs, but do not ask why the surge in usage. Our public health and medical experts try to cure the addicts, but seldom ask why so many are using drugs.

These graphs show the symptoms of a spiritual sickness afflicting America. We cannot solve this problem until we ask the right questions. It is growing worse, as this shows …

Total US drug deaths
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), August 2018.

Another perspective on the casualties, shown by sex.

Total US drug deaths - by sex

What are they using?

Total US drug deaths - cocaine

Total US drug deaths - heroin

Total US drug deaths - other synthetic opioids

How are the kids doing?

The NIDA shows that this is the bright spot in an otherwise bleak picture.

Binge Drinking by kids

Vicodin use by kids

The NIH worries about marijuana use. I am astonished it is so low.

Use of most drugs by young adults has declined for most drugs, and by a lot for some. Here is what is being used.

Misuse of illegal drugs by kids

Misuse of legal drugs by kids

Who gets treated? Who does not, and why?

Comorbidity: who is affected

Comorbidity: who gets treatment

Comorbidity-why no care

The government’s response to the drug problem

First, with a big police response – as usual. The response of the health care community is equally futile. HHS is doing what they can, but few epidemics have been defeated by treatment. Either they run until they burn themselves out, or they are defeated by preventive measures. That means public health measures (e.g., sanitation, treatment of drinking and waste water) or medical science (e.g., vaccines).

Little of this will work. It cannot work.

HHS response to the drug problem

Policing has failed. We lack effective public health and mental health tools to either effectively prevent or treat drug addiction. Perhaps eventually we will ask ourselves about the causes of this epidemic. Such as alienation.

  1. Diagnosing the Eagle: Alienation.
  2. The bitter fruits of our alienation from America.
  3. Vignettes of men and women in America, alienated from their true selves.
  4. America’s men and women, alienated from our true selves.
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