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Discussion Forums
Drugs and Addictions

I'll admit that I just don't get it. I don't get being all judgmental about people who use drugs, not even those who are junkies (usually because their lives have been too hard). I don't get putting so many people in prison for something that only harms themselves. Save the prisons for violent offenders and the "white-collar" criminals stealing so much money from the people of this nation. Besides, studies have shown a lot of racism and classism (prejudice against those with less money) is involved in who gets charged and convicted in this country for drug offenses. (Surprise! No, it's not white folk or the rich who go to prison more often for the same crimes. Guess again.)

In an ideal world, we would never feel the need for artificial highs. But the truth is that almost all of us indulge in one form or another, from chocolate or caffeine to the nasties like meth or junk, to the doctor-approved tranqs and anti-depressants. They're all consciousness-altering drugs. Some are socially and legally approved and some aren't. Medical science comes down on the side of pot being less dangerous than alcohol, yet it's pot that's illegal. People just get used to certain ideas and then they can't think past them.

So there are unreasonable concepts and laws in this country regarding drug use. But we also know that certain drugs are more dangerous than others. I've seen up close what the highly addictive drugs can do to people, and it's not pretty. Use some common sense in this area and if you find yourself addicted, please go get help. Only extremely rare people can heal from addictions on their own. There really are some good people out there who've been through it themselves and who'll work with you. Don't stop until you find one of them. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are free, and there are groups almost everywhere. Check out the links.

—Gail



“Instead of a war on poverty, they have a war on drugs so the police can bother me.”

— Tupac Shakur




Facts & Stats

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, young Whites, ages 18-25, use crack cocaine at a higher percentage (3.2%) than young African Americans (1.8%). However, the penalties and prosecutions for crack cocaine cases are disproportionately applied to minorities.

- Million Family March

Minorities currently account for 96 percent of federal crack cocaine prosecutions and convictions. According to journalist Alexander Cockburn, "amid the decline in the overall crime rate, about 5,000 of every 100,000 black men are in prison or jail. This compares with an overall rate of 500 per 100,000 in the general population." The disparity is due largely to the inequalities in drug sentencing which target low-income individuals. While most cocaine dealers are let off with community service for selling under 500 grams of cocaine, the crack dealers serve a mandatory minimum for possessing only five grams.

- Joshua Bloodworth, Harvard

Alcohol is the number 1 drug problem in the US. Over 15 million US citizens are dependent on alcohol. Half a million are between the ages of 9 and 12.

According to 1999 statistics, heroin has caused more deaths than traffic accidents.

Cannabis is the most commonly used drug (besides alcohol), with 12% of respondents reporting smoking it. 24% of those between 18 and 24 have used it.

It's estimated that 22 to 25 million people have tried cocaine at least once. Conservative estimates indicate that there are over two million cocaine addicts in the US.

In 2000, OxyContin may have played a role in 464 deaths nationwide.

- above stats from Narconon

Marijuana has low toxicity, little addictive power, and poses only a minor threat to social behavior, researchers at the French medical institute INSERM concluded. The report identified alcohol, heroin, and cocaine as the drugs most dangerous to health. Tobacco, psychotropic drugs, tranquilizers, and hallucinogens were placed in a second, less harmful group. Marijuana was classified in a third category of substances defined as posing relatively little danger.

- INSERM, France

Although available evidence suggests that marijuana may be less likely than opiates, barbiturates, or alcohol to induce psychological and physical dependence in its users, it has the capacity to reduce the effective functioning of individuals under its influence, and prolonged or excessive use may cause serious harmful biological and social effects in many users.

- National Research Council of the National Academy of Science, US