Kevin Sabet has another OpEd as part of the New York Times Room for Debate: How to Treat the Epidemic
Second, our governments must lead a more coordinated and vigorous attack on this problem.
Our governments’ coordinated and vigorous attack is what got us into this mess.
Finally, industry has a part to play in this too. The formulation of drugs that cannot be abused (yes, “abuse-deterrent” drugs are possible)
Whoa. That sound creepily like adding methyl alcohol to alcohol in prohibition to poison people who used it recreationally, or like adding acetaminophen to pain pills to destroy people’s livers. Yeah, let’s save people by killing them.
It’s not like the others in the Room for Debate group are much better (see links on the left of Sabet’s article). Linda Simoni-Wastila advocates a national monitoring program even without any evidence of effectiveness. Andrew Kolodny thinks patients in pain should be given less pain medication and just suffer through it. Jonathan Caulkins says absolutely nothing in four paragraphs.
I know that there are a lot of people out there who want to treat prescription drug abuse as a completely separate issue from illicit drug abuse – after all, prescription drugs (within certain tightly controlled parameters only) are legal. But it’s all interrelated. The war on drugs has affected all drug abuse, because the entire pharmacology has been put out of whack. There will always be some people who will look to drugs as a way of dealing with life. What we need to be doing is coming up with better and safer options for those people (combined with education and treatment, of course) rather than trying to ratchet up enforcement in a zero-tolerance system.
The failed system we have of constantly increasing enforcement has only driven people to more dangerous activity rather than reducing harm, while also indiscriminately sweeping in all the responsible drug users who don’t need assistance. A responsible system of regulated legalization of drugs, with different regulations for different drug harms, would leave the responsible users alone, reduce the harm to all, and free up the system to focus on helping abusers before they die.
Not a single one of the debaters in the New York Times Room for Debate is willing to address a system that will really change things for the better.