In the United States, a public campaign against the abuse of illegal drugs in the country began in 1986. This war was started by the media and politicians. They started to crusade against the use of all illegal drugs by the residents of the country but they did not pass the right messages across. They instead used their own personal knowledge that according to the writers was wrong. They used this campaign as a way of targeting various people and social groups. This was because they spread false claims about the usage of the drugs and the drugs` effects. They helped to spread misjudged information to the public so, as for them, to attain some selfish benefits. Some of the drugs that have come under strong opposition include crack, opium and marijuana. This drug war campaign was initiated by the Reagan administration in 1982 and it was embraced by other politicians as a means to do social framework. This period of anti-drug campaigns by the politicians and the news media ran until 1992.
The main aim of the fight against illegal substance and drug abuse in the country was to reduce the supply of drugs and at the same time reduce the demand for them. In order to reduce the supply of drugs, it should be made difficult for the drug dealers to access the drug sources and develop severe measures to be implemented against those found in possession of drugs whether for selling or personal consumption. To reduce the number of users of these drugs, public awareness campaigns should be conducted to sensitize the public about the disadvantages of using drugs and treating those already caught up in the vice.
The war on drugs was launched with an aim to portray some political effects on the leaders in the United States. Before the launch of the anti-drug campaign by the Reagan administration, drug and substance abuse among the youth was on the decline. This shows that the citizens were already trying to bring to an end the drug menace themselves. Thus, the move of the Reagan administration seems to have been initiated so that the government would be viewed as the one that was behind this success. This may have been designed to portray the concern the government had on domestic affairs of the country (Nunn). This thus caused Congress to pass the laws that were intended to show that no one in the government was in support of the drug selling and supplying.
The drug war thus targeted the minorities living in the city neighborhoods. This is because the number of African American and Hispanic people that are arrested for drug related crimes is far much higher than that of the whites. In addition, the number of minorities that have been placed behind the bars is larger than the number of whites that have been arrested. In the United States, drug possession is what leads many people that are arrested to be put in prison. It is shown that a majority of the white population are the ones that are abusing drugs more than the minorities. At the same time, it is easier for drug users to buy drugs from people of similar race or social status in society. It thus shows that although both the whites and minorities deal in the trade, the war was mostly targeted against the minorities (Reinarman & Levine, 1997).
The laws that are used to prosecute drug related offenders also seem to discriminate against the minorities. This is because there is the difference between the minorities and the whites in the way they use certain drugs, like cocaine. While the minorities normally tend to use crack more, the whites use cocaine in its natural form. The laws put in place to govern the possession of these two drugs treat them as though they were the same. If someone is caught with a small proportion of crack he/she can be given an equal sentence as someone caught in possession of a much larger quantity of cocaine. However, even with these differences it is evident that the government has done nothing to change the racial discrimination against the minorities during sentencing.
It is, thus, evident that the social impact of the strong campaign against drugs on the United States is the discrimination against African Americans and Hispanics. They have become targets of numerous police raids since they are considered the most involved in crimes. This shows that the war against drugs might not be what it sounds to be, but rather a means to oppress the minority communities. The disparities in sentencing offenders are also another factor that shows why the war against drugs may not be a legitimate cause in the United States (Nunn).
During this anti-drugs campaign period a lot of propaganda was spread concerning the drugs usage and the effects that follow it. The politicians and the media instead of conducting surveys to establish the facts about drugs just went ahead and fed the public with misguided information. Among the myths that were passed across by the politicians and the media, the crime related effects were the ones they addressed the most. This myth was that drug users were the ones involved in organized crime. It even sought to present vague information to the public and thus accelerating the drug scare. Instead of using the right facts and evidence to support their claims, they gave vague information that they used to magnify the magnitude of the drug problem.
Some of the myths that were passed on by the politicians and the media included claiming that drug users were the ones responsible for murders, robberies and other socially inacceptable behavior. Instead of telling the truth there was drugs menace and lies were told to cover up the motives behind the formation of these drug control committees to advise the senate. The committee had been presented with the task of ensuring that drugs abuse by people with less or no experience at all was brought to a halt. This is one of the reasons that the politicians and the media have used to fight the drugs scourge. This also shows why the policies put in place by the government to fight drugs may not be working in the American society. This is attributed to the fact that most of these laws made by the senate are developed using information from the less informed and ill experienced drug control committee members.
Crack was the first drug that was put under scrutiny, and its spread and use were highly condemned. Crack was brought into the United States in around 1984. This was only a means to sell cocaine, the hard and expensive drug, in smaller and cheaper quantities. This was not a new drug or even a new way to use cocaine but rather a method to make the drug more available and also affordable to the cocaine users with less means to acquire it in its natural form. It also improved how cocaine would intoxicate someone faster than when it is not smoked. The high and fast intoxication coupled with the cheap drug costs compared to the mild effects of original cocaine and its expensive nature were meant to increase the sale of the drug. Crack was even made locally in the houses making it cheap to obtain.
Those who got into this business first were African American and Latino youth in the areas around New York, Los Angeles and Miami. This was because they did not have formal methods of earning a living and even if they did they were not earning as much as they wanted. Since these young people were unemployed, they decided to take up the job of selling crack rather than engaging in crime related jobs. This job offered them better pays and better working conditions than any formal or casual job that they were in a position to get.
Politicians and the media thus described crack as a highly addictive and destructive substance. They claimed that it was like a viral disease that had attacked the United States. Many groups came together to educate the United States residents about the effects of the drug’s use. Instead of presenting the truth about the drugs, they went ahead and sold propaganda that was fueled by the inexperienced advisors who were used to advise on the drugs. They continued to give false data about events that were happening around the country due to the use of crack. They told that the drugs were now becoming a big problem in the United States due to large usage but did not have the evidence to support their claims. The media who also presented this information without considering the credibility of the source put across this propaganda. The media and politicians claimed that crack was so much widespread in the ghettos and was even spreading to the suburbs at a very high rate. They also claimed that crack was a highly addictive drug and that it was highly addictive. Their campaigns about the high levels of addiction amongst the middle class and how adversely the use of crack was quickly rising were also put across in papers creating a problem that was not that much aggravated.
The theories that considered crack as the most addictive drug were false. This is because after all this propaganda had been spread, the same media presented evidence that most of the people, who used it, were not addicted to it. Their main aim of spreading the false information was to prevent the young people from getting into the habit of smoking crack. Their views that crack smoking was highly spreading from the poor neighborhoods to the suburbs was highly misinformed. It soon emerged that many law enforcement officers, education officials and the youth claimed that crack smoking was not easily noticed in the suburbs but it still remained a drug that was mostly used in the poor neighborhoods. These true sources of information were however initially discredited by the false information that had been spread by the anti-drugs campaigns in the United States of America.
Another drug that has received much attention in the United States is opium. Opium traces its origin in the United States to Chinese immigrants who used to work as the railroad builders. After the completion of the railroad, a recession hit the United States. Due to this recession, there was a wide spread competition for jobs between the Chinese and the whites. To fight the prevalence of the opium drug, the Chinese were accused of using the drug in order to drug the white women and sexually abuse them afterwards. This was also viewed as a means to oppress the Chinese in order to reduce the competition (Stanford Edu.).
Another illegal drug that was highly criticized is marijuana. The theories used to propel the campaign against marijuana did not involve the violent nature of the users. Those crusading against the use of marijuana claimed that it was causing the youth to become ignorant of the issues affecting the country. Another theory raised was also that marijuana users were also committing terrible crimes, like murdering and raping people, due to the effects of the drug. In addition, these issues didn’t have evidence to prove they were actually happening. But owing to these reasons and to the fact that mostly the minorities were accused in the drug usage, it looked like it was just another way to oppress them. These claims were especially placed on Mexicans. Although marijuana was actually wide spread and it was highly used, it did not bring about the above stated disadvantages.
Alcohol was also castigated as a highly dangerous type of drug in the United States. Alcohol was blamed for making its users violent and as a result they would get involved in crimes. It was also discredited as a drug that caused high addiction to its users. It was also blamed that it caused an increase in poverty levels and an increased number of divorces; besides, it caused mental related illnesses, led to moral decadency within the larger society, and caused people to lose their business due to mismanagement. The crusaders against the alcohol drug claimed that if its production was prohibited it would bring rise to better developments being experienced in the society. These benefits would include reduction of crimes that would ultimately lead to prisons without prisoners. Since it was also a problem among the working force of the United States, its prohibition would also ensure the maximized productivity in the industries, ultimately leading to better profits being gained.
All these negative facts about the drugs spread by politicians and the media have only been fueled by false claims. In the book “Crack in America: Demon drugs and social justice”, it is stated that politicians and the media only magnified the problem of how many people were using drugs without the consideration of the reasons that would have led people into drug abuse. Some of the facts that the politicians tried to use to explain the prevalence of drug usage in the United States, were related to the number of people who abuse drugs and to the reasons that lead to this, including the background of the drug addicted individuals (Nunn, 2002).
The reality that surrounds the drug addiction actually involves the human body itself. This is because of the reaction between a drug and the human body cells. Another factor that might influence the drugs impact on an individual is his/her perception of the drug. An example has been given in the book “Crack in America: Demon drugs and social justice”, and it claims that marijuana smokers get to understand the highs of the drug by interacting with those who already smoke marijuana. Thus, if one smoked it alone, he/she would not see the need to continue using it, since it brings no effects to him/her. Thus, the psychological composure of these individuals may also contribute to whether they will abuse the drug or not. It may thus be a psychological thing that may cause one to abuse drugs, while the other one will choose not to use it. This may be caused by a person’s traits of character, the environment he/she is exposed to, his/her moods and beliefs.
It has also been shown that most people who abuse drugs in America are not violent after using these drugs. In the book “Crack in America: Demon drugs and social justice", an example of heroin users is given; even after using the drug they would remain calm and well composed. Others who did not remain calm would not engage in criminal activities and wouldn’t harm other people. This was attributed to the social setting they were exposed to. Thus, it is evident that the claims made by politicians and the media that the drug addicts were causing a rise in crime and violence were misinforming to the public. This is because the United States social setting was not a factor that would lead these people to committing such grave crimes due to the influence of these drugs. It is thus clear that people abusing drugs and living in areas characterized by violence and crime, would find themselves doing those crimes too and especially while under the influence.
Another myth considered African American and Hispanics as the most drug addicted populations. They have been racially abused due to these claims and have found themselves on the disadvantaged side when it comes to law enforcement. But it is not only the African Americans and Hispanics who abuse drugs, the whites also abuse drugs. Thus, the reality is that all people in the United States, in one way or another, are capable of abusing these drugs and not only the African American and Hispanic communities.
The economic effects of the campaign against the drug abuse in the United States are that numerous funds are being allocated to fight a war that is not bringing any results. The main aim of the war against the prevalence of illegal drugs in America is to halt the distribution of the drugs through interfering with the drugs supply. It is also aimed at eradicating the use of the drugs in the society, through sensitizing the society on the effects of drug usage and it tries to rehabilitate those that have already fallen victims to the drug abuse menace. This is to reduce the demand for the illegal drugs in America. In the fight against drugs, the government each year seizes only a small percent of illegal drugs. There is also the large number of people who are arrested and detained in prisons that also cost money allocated for the war against drugs consumption and supply. The committee that has been put in place to oversee the eradication of the drug menace in the United States also uses a considerable amount of money to fight a war they cannot win due to their or lack of experience or tactics to curb the menace. A lot of money allocated seems to be wasted. This is because they only manage to capture a small percentage of the drugs in supply and thus there is a large percentage of failure every year. This signifies that the other percentage of money is not spent in the right way and thus the taxpayers’ money is wasted trying to end a war that is not ending. This is a very negative utilization of the country`s budget.