- Posted January 11, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Gun control debate: Background checks
Neither Guns Nor Cliffs, But A Threat We Cannot Afford To Miss Any Longer
The recent tragedy in Connecticut has understandably consumed us with protecting our children from gun violence, and the state of our economic recovery -- with avoiding the Fiscal Cliff. But, for too long, we have been overlooking another threat and recovery issue. Alcohol and drug addiction is far more dangerous to our children than guns and costs us close to two hundred billion dollars a year. The disease often starts in childhood and kills more children than firearms. Although most child sufferers reach adulthood, over one hundred thousand then lose their lives and twenty three million more remain at risk of dying each year. Curtailing this epidemic – for humanitarian and financial reasons -- can be achieved if policy makers redirect “The War On Drugs” toward recovery from this disease.
Past federal substance abuse policy has relied upon criminalization (better known as "The War On Drugs"), prevention and treatment, and has been ineffective. Similar to gun control laws, criminalization and prevention seek to stop the supply and use of illegal drugs. Yet, drugs do not misuse people -- people suffering from addiction misuse drugs-- and if one drug is in short supply, another will take its place. In addition, without diminishing the sanctity of any life lost to this disease, the use of illegal drugs accounts for only about sixteen thousand of the one hundred and sixteen thousand deaths from alcohol and drug abuse each year. Moreover, although treatment serves an often critical purpose, funding is extremely limited, treatment is expensive, and such medical care usually lasts for a relatively short period of time. Addiction, however, is a chronic illness, like diabetes, for which there is no medical cure. As a result, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, recovery can be achieved and maintained through an individualized approach including ongoing medical care as needed, continued participation in 12 Step recovery programs, and transitional support, such as sober housing, childcare and work training.
We are at an urgent crossroads in fighting this epidemic. In a recent speech at the Betty Ford Treatment Center, Gil Kerlikowske, the Director of the National Drug Control Policy, announced that we can and must make progress against this disease by allocating some of our substance abuse resources to programs which support recovery. The new approach would be about working smarter, not harder. This is a recovery effort that is worthy of our attention and support.
Lisa M. Jacobsen, Harvest House