Recently, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies addressed the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs and called for the decriminalization of drugs. After decades of failed policy, it should be an obvious fact to the governments and law agencies of the world that stigmatization and punishment of drug users only forces them into lives of hiding in the crevices and cracks of the city, where they must constantly avoid encounters with the law and live lives of depravity, disease, and death. The criminalization of drugs has never and will never stop people from using; in fact, drug use is on the rise in nearly every country in the world. So long as drugs remain illegal, the black markets and crimes directly related to the black markets will thrive. Drug use has reached a point where it can no longer be considered a moral issue – it is a worldwide public health concern and matter of human rights and dignity. It is no mystery that various populations of IV drug users also possess incredibly high rates of diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C. Without access to harm reduction programs and proper healthcare, the number of infected users is sure to rise and pose an even more serious threat to those in addicted families and the general public.
The solution may not be as simple as decriminalization and offering more harm reduction programs. Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding drug users is as negative and misinformed as ever. Until an honest and rational discussion grounded in scientific and medical knowledge takes place, the drug user is simply another criminal, shunned and forced to live on the fringes of society. In my experience, most drug users are just broken, harmless folks who do what they have to do to get a fix. Nicotine addicts and alcoholicsdo not hold up smoke shops or liquor stores at gunpoint, rob and beat someone blind or break into private property to support their habits. This is because nicotine and alcohol are legal, cheap, and readily available. Illegal drugs, because they are illegal, require a bit more effort to acquire and, because of the physical symptoms of addiction, can often drive people to take rather drastic measures to acquire their drug of choice.
Filed under: Life · Tags: Addiction, alcohol, Alcohol and Drugs, alcoholism, black market, decriminalization, Drug Abuse, harm reduction programs, Hepatitis C, HIV, illegal drugs, IV drug use, IV Drug Users, nicotine, Red Cross, substance abuse, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, United Nations, United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs