Drug war alternatives

Ma. Isabel Ongpin

Ma. Isabel Ongpin

IT is indisputable that like other countries at this time we are weighted down with a drug problem in virtually all sectors of our society.

Something has to be done and it has to be effective. Violence won’t do because it will breed more violence, either as extrajudicial killings as we have already seen or intra-drug wars as drug dealers battle each other or their underlings as they try to cover their tracks by eliminating witnesses or as they fight for turf. Besides, the number of dead does not mean the diminishing of drug use. As long as drugs generate profit, provide an escape from problems or simply used for recreation, the users will grow faster than those who promote its use are killed.

What has to be done–and this is not an original idea but a proven solution–is to change mindsets about drugs. Rehabilitation clinics must be put in place to take care of drug addicts who want to reform or have to be reformed. If these are well-run with properly trained and experienced staff using proven techniques, drug addicts can be reformed and brought back into society where they can become useful members.

But even more useful and less expensive, there should be a push for the prevention of drug use,especially among the youth. Like preventive medicine, a program to steerthe youth away from the pitfalls of drugs would be a more effective solution. In schools and even among out-of-school youths, there should be programs that the young people can find useful and entertaining, activities that take their time and give them satisfaction as well as make them useful. Sports activities are one. If a massive sports program is put in place all over the country targeting the youth, we will not only have better athletes but, because of their involvement in athletics, will be kept away from drugs. Naturally, it is expected that forbidden drugs that unfairly enhance athletes’ performance will not be used or even thought of. And that is where the mindset must come in, through lectures, demonstrations, cautionary tales about the vile effects of drug use by experienced personnel who have seen, worked in and managed drug rehabilitation programs. The schools must be a primary target, for that is where the youth are. But out-of-school youth must also be paid attention to in the same way, with vocational training, and lectures and demonstrations as well. Parents and relatives of these youths must be included as assistants, to guide students on how to prevent drug use, what to do if there is incipient drug experimentation among their charges.

Police who have worked against the drug business and have from their experience developed methods of discerning how drug pushers can be caught and taken off the streets either for rehabilitation or for judicial process should be engaged. It seems some Los Angeles police personnel came recently to do just that with their counterparts here. Of course, all along police must be seizing drugs and arresting drug pushers so that drug profits become scarce or unattractive, especially if there is less interest in them from the public through a change in attitude.

Knowledge and vigilance regarding drug use must be publicized and exercised. It is true, it is a war against drugs. But let it be an effective war, not just indiscriminate decimation of suspected drug addicts, pushers or drug lords who will soon be replaced by others because the same mindsets open to the uses and lure of drugs persist.

In other words, the war to eliminate drugs must be fought first by changing attitudes, defining values, exercising discipline, providing alternative activities that are useful (as in education of all kinds from vocational to academic), entertaining and respectable. Let us take a serious look at better ways of conducting a war to eliminate the drug problem in our midst.


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  1. I propose there should be established a lot of Military and Police Academies to recruit-rehab-train addicts into soldiers and policemen, thereby turning these outcasts into protectors of society.

    Just like the French Foreign Legion recruited criminals and turned them into super-soldiers.