This paper will discuss the topic of The War on Drugs in America and the harsh realities of what was occurring during the Nixon and Reagan era. It will take a look at past history and the origins of when this drug epidemic became such a hazard in America’s roots. It was first declared in 1971 by President Richard Nixon due to his strong belief that drug abuse was “public enemy number one.” With that, he installed widespread fear amongst citizens as well as creating several alternative means that sought to eliminate the problem.
Then throughout President Ronald Reagan’s term, he refocused the nation’s attention back to the issue which led to a significant increase in incarcerations for nonviolent drug crimes. These were times where individuals slipped away from the norm and began experimenting in different areas such as opposition towards the government and social conformity in diverse groups. This then lead to the greater issue of The War on Drugs becoming a war on the people because of its effects on minority groups. The social justice sought by many was to end the racial discrimination placed by higher powers on these groups of people in means to gain political wealth.
War on drugs was started in 1971 by President Nixon of United States of America who realized existence of far reaching impacts that hurt both the population as well as economy at large. It was a futile fight as much of his efforts failed to bear desired results. Analysts have judged the outcome and likened it to being militaristic and unilateral. The strategy applied was identified to have hindered success of anticipated outcomes and so further probe into how best this fete could have been successfully achieved remains valid.
It has resulted in increased debate on causal factors that led to increased influx of drugs as well as number of people involved. Policies including those motivated by laws and legislations have been a key factor considered as a reason for this increase. Further, political regimes existing thought US history, have had varying approaches which can be blamed for increased incoherence of policies and approach strategies. It is thus important to decipher reasons behind decline in success to arresting drug use and abuse in America at large.
History of Drug Use and Abuse
In the USA, drugs have been identifies as a single most likely killer of people with reasons ranging from overdosing to direct causal of death from long term effect of usage. They also contribute to fatalities such as road carnage and industrial accidents such as eventualities emanating from operating machinery while on drugs. According to the Belle & Doucet (2003), fatalities resulting from drug and substance use, attract attention of law enforcing agencies who take action such as making arrests, tightening bounder entry points, security measures as well as increased establishment of watchdog departments notably Antinarcotics crime department (Wagley, 2006).
According to King County Bar Association Drug Policy Project (2005), there are numerous legal legislations that have been set up which have had mixed set of outcomes. The document was developed by experts avid in disciplines such as health, law enforcement, law as well as past and current elected political officials who helped in pooling ideas and providing legal counsel (King County Bar Association, 2005, 1). It identified various law legislations and applets to support drug use and abuse quashing. It is likely that resulted gather here stand to be better understood if historical dissection of activities are chronologically eluded.
Social economic inequalities have been identified to co-relate with drug use and abuse. This is according to Shaw, Egan & Gillespie (2007, 44) who realized an increased number of individuals who were either unemployed and /or are poor, engaged more in drug use and abuse in Canada. Similar findings by King County Bar Association (2005, 5) too documents a higher number of drug users to be those like unemployed and lived in informal settlement around USA. President Nixon envisioned a total and immediate halt of drug proliferation in USA which was viewed as militant as it did not provide harmony. In addition, his approach of impounding and locking up individuals found to engage in drug use is too viewed as militant an ineffective.
With reference to USA’s history on drug use and abuse fight, there has had been numerous developments which are attributed to various social reasons for these efforts failing. One important conflict is the retrogression towards believe that war on drugs was a racially inclined duel. Minority black Americans living in low income establishments have been greatly targeted and identified as both users and dealers of drugs by numerous government law enforcement arms and government at large. Counter reaction from this deduction points towards increased conflict between White majority and minority Blacks.
In a juxtapose between minority Black individuals and majority white Americans, there has been a double sided approach in addressing this social issue. White drug users have faced less force and harsh measures which ignites questions on most applicable approach. Minority black citizens deduce this as a bias which largely implicates them as individuals of a lesser strata as compared to majority whites. This influences the desire to rebel and view law enforcement as their enemies and so would rather do anything possible to thwart efforts made in fighting drug use.
There exists a harmonious way that best applies in all social problems which affect individuals economically, political and socially. This takes a form of community participation which entrusts solutions to masses’ contribution. The approach develops solutions from view collected from experiences of different people with varying economic, political and social backgrounds. It has been proved by Pittman, Irby, Tolman, Yohalem & Ferber (2011, December), community participation towards addressing of social problems, offers best results which promote acceptance of laws and their enforcement. Success is experienced here because every individual feels included and consequently considered.
In many USA settlement areas, there are income disparities which greatly alienates different stratus of people hence making it difficult to use a single approach to solve given problems. Drug abuse and substance use have been categorized as a major reason for increased crime and rebellion amongst citizenly. Women, children and unemployed middle aged individuals experience increased crime rate as they are considered less contributors to general economic decisions. These include the inaccessibility of social amenities, lack of security and likely a surge in desperation to engage in misconducts that attract forceful interventions from existing government.
Notably, crime increase has been attributed to drug use and abuse amongst many minority groups living in USA. This has contributed to hardening of particular members within these groups leading to societal stereotyping. It has been noted that many young black Americans male individuals have a higher likelihood of being impounded before the age of 30 years which is according to Western & Pettit (2010, 14). Their propensity to involve in drugs has been attributed to desire to belong, feel appreciated likely by their peers as well as gaining sense of dominance. Amongst social groupings, individuals who engage in drugs appeal to their peers more than they who remain non-intoxicated. Such pressure it a reason enough for surge of drug usage in the face of increased law enforcement. Again the appeal to seem insurmountable by law overwhelms many young minority blacks leading to stereotyping that blacks are more likely to engage in this vice.
Possible solutions lay with societal involvement in formulation of laws and legislations as this would develop a sense of appreciation for set up laws hence increasing their general success rate. Individuals develop the sense of law abiding which further facilitates a population’s general approval. This was a possible approach that both President Nixon and Reagan would have adopted instead of discriminating against inferior groups. Taxes that were levied on opiates and cocaine capture in The Harrison Act of 1914 can be referenced as products of legislations which were flexible and accommodative. They helped regulate extremes of drug proliferation but failed to address their impact in the long term. With disruptions in economic activities, people resorted to taking up drug trade as the emerging income source hence lack of restrictions and ultimately development of drugs as commodities traded in the block market. It is the source of much problems when there is lack of unrestricting in any economic venture, there is a likelihood of social ills such as cartels and money laundering.