Unification News for February 2000

Drug Abuse: the Dark Side of Life

Haven Bradford Gow
February, 2000

An article in an Aug. ’99 issue of USA Today pointed out that "Upper-middle-class adolescents have a greater propensity for drug and alcohol abuse, depression and bouts of misbehavior, says a study conducted by Teachers College at Columbia University and Yale University.... Suburban youths reported significantly higher levels of alcohol and drug use than their inner-city counterparts. Among suburban girls, 46 percent admitted using an illicit drug at least once in the past year, compared with 26 percent of inner-city females. And 59 percent of suburban boys used an illicit drug at least once, vs. 33 percent of boys in the inner city."

An article in the Jan. 26, 2000 issue of Lakeside Life, the student publication of Lakeside High School, Lake Village, Ark., observed that "Drug abuse is a serious problem across the country. Over 50 percent of all teens use drugs or alcohol. In the next 24 hours 15,006 teens will use drugs for the first time."

Some argue that the best way to deal with the nationwide epidemic of drug abuse is to legalize drugs. Legalizing drugs, they insist, will take the profit out of drug dealing.

Conversely, Dr. Arnold Washton, founding director of the Washton Institute on Addictions in New York, points out that England and Italy have legalized heroin and have "suffered tremendously from it. It did not get rid of drug-related crime.... And in England alone, there’s an increase of more than 300,000 in the number of heroin addicts in that country."

The regular use of crack and cocaine, Dr. Washton insists, "will break you down, will cause paranoia and violence. Cocaine and crack will stimulate compulsive sexual activity, leading to the spread of AIDS—and now renewing the syphilis epidemic. They lead to violence. In New York City alone, about three-quarters of children who are beaten to death by their parents are killed by parents involved with drugs like cocaine and crack."

Dr. Washton adds that legalizing drugs "does not get rid of the black market. And you won’t get rid of it unless the legal system is willing to distribute crack and other drugs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by the truckload, on demand, at next to nothing cost."

Concerning the legalization of drugs, Dr. William Bennett, former director of drug strategy for the Bush administration and author of Our Country and our Children (Simon & Schuster) and other books, declares: "If drugs are legalized, there will be more cocaine babies, more wrecked lives; there will be more wrecked trains, buses, airplanes."

Clearly, legalizing drugs is not the right way to go. Man is by nature a social animal; we need other human beings, and they need us. From these elementary truths, we can understand that we possess social and moral obligations that sometimes require us to subordinate our private, selfish interests and pursuits for the sake of the common good. By keeping harmful drugs like marijuana, cocaine and heroin illegal, the state is asking people to sacrifice a little bit of freedom for the moral well-being of society.

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