It’s not a war on drugs – It’s a war on the people of AmericaBy Doc
I have come to the realization that when it comes to drugs like methamphetamine, there’s not a so-called war on drugs – in actuality the war is on the people of America. Meth is tearing at the fabric of what it means to be an American and will ultimately result in the death of the America I know and love – suffering a death by 1000 cuts.
There were several recent reports by highly-respected organizations (presented in more detail below) that caused me to start thinking along these lines. I struggled for a long while trying to understand what the motives might be for this war against the American public. Then I had an epiphany of sorts. And as is almost always the case – it all comes down to one thing – control.
President Obama and other democrats (as well as some republicans) believe that the incarceration of drug users and drug sellers, even those that sell meth, is not “fair” – that it represents some sort of bias against poor and minority populations. Therefore President Obama has started commuting the sentences of 6,000 convicted drug offenders. I will be the first to admit, and even proclaim from the mountaintop, that effective treatment – not incarceration – is the only true way to ever help people struggling with drug addiction. But distorting the facts and relying on flawed statistics – as many in the left-leaning media do – is nothing but smoke and mirrors. Without providing adequate treatment, this prison release is a meaningless gesture. It is time that we stand up and face the reality that meth poses to the American public.
Just to remind you, I have been investigating the neurobiology of drug addiction, primarily meth and cocaine, as a neuropsychopharmacologist for more than 35 years, most of that time at the LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, but also at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. I have published the results of my research in a wide variety of prestigious, peer-reviewed scientific journals, including Science, the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, and Psychopharmacology, just to name a few. But I was also raised by alcoholic parents, not realizing that I was living in a dysfunctional home until I became an adult and moved away. My best friend and college roommate died from an overdose on painkillers. I have also spent considerable time talking with methamphetamine users one on one. I have not only studied drug addiction – I have lived it.
I’ll put my credentials up against anyone’s!
The media and many others base their “facts” regarding drug addiction on surveys conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). I have written before on how SAMHSA collects the data published in their National Survey on Drug Use and Health. SAMHSA sends “field interviewers” out to the homes of a “representative sample” of the population. The interviewer knocks on the doors of these selected people and asks to speak to an adult resident willing and able to answer the questions on the survey, now conducted on laptop computers. Imagine if this government representative knocks on the door of a home where paranoid people are in the middle of a 3-day meth binge! How likely are they to even answer the door, much less provide accurate answers to the survey? Yet the public is expected to take these data on their face value. No one ever questions these surveys – these data are never challenged!
SAMHSA tells the public that there were only 569,000 methamphetamine users aged 12 years or older in the United States in 2014. They also claim that there were 45,000 new users aged 12 to 17 and that the percentage of these new users has remained the same from 2002 through 2013. How can that be? Adding 540,000 new users over a 12-year period should have increased the total number of users, at least a little, unless an equal number of users die or are “cured” every year. Yet SAMHSA says that the total number of users has remained constant for the past 12 years. Can anyone explain this? The numbers just don’t add up.
Sometimes I feel like I am the only one questioning the SAMHSA data, although others indirectly suggest that there may be some inconsistencies.
The United Nations (UN) is considered by many to lean to the left. In 2014, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released a report called the “Global Synthetic Drugs Assessment – Amphetamine-type stimulants and new psychoactive substances.” In this report, UNODC provides data indicating that seizures of amphetamines (90% being methamphetamine) in North America increased from 12 tons in 2007 to 60 tons in 2012. Meanwhile the U.S. also saw a 400% surge in the number of meth labs dismantled between 2010 and 2012. Yet UNODC still cites the SAMHSA data, suggesting that the annual use of meth has shown a “stable trend,” with the prevalence rate actually decreasing from 0.5% in 2009 to 0.2% in 2012. Folks, the numbers don’t add up. There has been a 500% increase in the seizures of meth and a 400% increase in meth lab discoveries while the total number of users actually decreased during the same period. What is this, Common Core math? And these are UN data my friends!
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) just released their “2015 National Drug Threat Assessment [NDTS] Summary.” Acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg states, “Drug overdose deaths have become the leading cause of injury death in the United States, surpassing the number of deaths by motor vehicles and by firearms every year since 2008.” Where is the uproar?
Furthermore, the report states, “Methamphetamine availability continues to increase in the United States. According to the 2015 NDTS, 33 percent of responding agencies reported that methamphetamine was the greatest drug threat in their areas.” And, “While national use survey data appear to be stable, national treatment data as well as localized public health officials, indicate methamphetamine use may be increasing.”
So why do the UN, Jacob Sullum (a ‘contributor’ for Forbes with the clever byline, “I cover the war on drugs from a conscientious objector’s perspective”), and others continue to report the SAMHSA survey data as absolute? Why argue that warnings about the meth epidemic represent nothing more than hyperbole – exaggerated fear mongering designed simply to hurt the poor and disadvantaged? Is it just because no one has come up with a better way to estimate the use of meth in the U.S. today? Why don’t others speak out when the numbers are so far off? Why aren’t people marching in the street? Why is SAMHSA just given the benefit of the doubt?
It’s all about power and control. No one will admit it, but there is no effective treatment for methamphetamine addiction. Even when someone “completes” a treatment program, then what? And who even decides when someone has successfully completed a program? It all comes down to money and bureaucracies – and control.
The numbers of methamphetamine seizures and labs dismantled continue to increase, and the number of people suffering in the grips of this insidious drug continues to rise day after day. They are crying out for our help! But SAMHSA tells us that the numbers are going down. Please don’t look behind the curtain – everything is under control.
It’s all just a cleverly-designed smokescreen. As long as SAMHSA tells us that the numbers of meth users remain constant, no matter what other agencies report, then no one loses his or her job. Things continue just as they have been for the past 12 years. Addicts looking for help are turned away by the droves, and those completing treatment and desperately seeking sober-living environments are put on ridiculously long waiting lists and instructed instead to attend a couple of 12-step programs each week. So the recovering addicts just end up back in the same environment where they came from, usually with no greater life skills than they had when they went into treatment. They are once again exposed to the same people and places and simply go back to doing what they have always known and done – and they start using again. It’s about control!
We’re going to wake up one day to discover that there are far too many people to help and that things are no longer in control – in fact, we may be there already. Someone please tell me, then what do we do?