A Victimless Crime?

By Supporter Contributor Matthew Gilbert

Image: Lawyers.com
Image: Lawyers.com

A few days ago, I saw a post by someone who was grieving for a loved one lost to drug overdose. They made the point that there are victims to drug use. I was not about to argue with a grieving person and I am not now going to. How could I? Nothing you do in this life, won’t affect other people and things. They say butterflies beating their wings in China cause earthquakes here.

Many hearts get broken over drug use. This is a sad fact of life. I’ve also had my heart broken by women I loved, and they’re walking around free as birds. My parents divorce affected me deeply. Divorce is legal, however. If you have someone in your life – on drugs – I’m sure you would rather see them in treatment than in jail. In jail they get no treatment and statistically, come out worse than when they went in.

It’s easy to say, blame the dealer, but that argument won’t get you far in court. Besides, someone deals to the dealer, and so on up the ladder, ’till you get to the people who are rich enough to avoid prosecution. As long as there is a demand, there will be someone willing to risk all by filling that demand. So it comes back to getting the user off drugs. Many users are afraid to come forward for fear of prosecution. If you are on probation for any crime, you are legally forbidden to use drugs, and they always have access to your doctor as a condition of probation. You can also lose your job, your children, your house, etc, as a direct legal consequence of admitting to drug use.

How Stuff Works - Crack
How Stuff Works – Crack

An out of control user will likely lose these things eventually anyway, which is why we want them in treatment. I say out of control drug user because the majority of the population can be prescribed – or simply use – drugs occasionally, without succumbing to addiction. Only about 12% of the population, is prone to become addicted. That’s a book in itself, so, I’ll close by reminding my readers, that countries like Portugal have decriminalized drug use. They have seen their rates of addiction, overdose, and drug related crimes, drastically reduced from what they were when they punished people for addiction. Addiction is legally defined as a disease in the USA. People should not be prosecuted, or persecuted for being sick. They should be helped.

Matthew Gilbert is a guitarist and music teacher in the Boston area. He has spent years struggling with drug abuse and addiction issues, and has written numerous articles on methadone maintenance programs. His perspective on the War on Drugs comes from on-the-street experience.

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