The Drug War is responsible for so much suffering and death in America and all around the world. Prohibition in and of itself creates underground markets and criminal behavior. I felt like we were beginning to make progress with the ending of mandatory minimums and the phasing out of private prisons. I saw hope in the changes regarding medical and recreational marijuana, but I guess our days of modern understanding and a world where we don’t penalize people for the substances they choose to put in their bodies is coming to a screeching halt. I have not ever been so disappointed in our country as I am now. I believe our democracy is broken, and I think it is probably not capable of being fixed without a significant uprising and an enormous amount of further suffering. I am overwhelmed with grief about what we are seeing on a daily basis. I understand that a piece of my struggle has to do with a certain amount of privilege that has sheltered me from at least some of the pain associated with living in the US with bipolar disorder and a co-occurring substance use disorder. I acknowledge that my life would be completely different if my parents were not both college educated, if my mother did not spend her adult life learning about mental illness and best practices to cope with what she would call a “sick child”. While my experience has been marked and certainly padded with privilege although I also believe that most drug users experience a significant loss of privilege as they continue down the road of chaotic use and are tagged with stigmatizing labels such as Addicts, Junkies, Criminals, Trash, etc. A felony record status is never good for living in the mainstream economy.
Some where in my adult life I decided I no longer accepted the American narrative around addiction. Maybe my bipolar disorder causes significant differences in how my substance use affects my life, but I am pretty sure most people who have struggled with substance use understand what it is to become disposable. We are not listened to, our realities and experiences are discredited, we are constantly told we don’t know what’s good for us and on top of everything else we are criminalized, and mistreated by the legal system. I have know that popular addiction narratives have not been helpful to me or at least not for long periods of time. Becoming invisible has been painful however I am so grateful that I can see the truth. Now if I could just help others to see it….really understand its power and depth.
I am terribly concerned about Jeff Sessions and his analysis of how to cope with today’s difficulties. I am equally worried about a large majority of legislation that is reactionary to the opioid crisis. Every day I hear about some awful piece of legislation that steals the rights of our citizens and undermines the truth about human beings. So often we look for simple solutions to terribly complex problems. We don’t care if the answers we come up with harm people….it is only invisible people, you know those of us who don’t matter.
The Drug War is based on a system of racism and greed. We have created a monster a big huge monster that needs to be fed to survive. It is largely fed with black and brown bodies, drug users, immigration detainees, and anyone else our society deems expendable. Greed is my diagnosis. Basic downright GREED. The stock market — finance—-power. Corporations in this country have the rights of an individual due to the 14th amendment to the constitution . I would agree with the people who say that the corporation looks much like a person who is diagnosed with anti social personality disorder due to their reckless disregard for others personal happiness and safety, the consciousless greedy power broker that keeps the machine moving forward at all costs. The American Drug War machine must move forward and those harmed by it are simply collateral damage, expendables. To keep corporations happy and to keep the stock market looking good we need as a nation to feed the evil machine that we have built. This evil machine is the DRUG WAR MACHINE, includes the criminal justice system/ legal system, the pharmaceutical market, the American Treatment Industry, just for starters. It is a machine that must be fed now that it is created and it sees no mercy for any of us. The hard part is this, if you have never seen it, been subjected to it, or had it turned on you it is easy to believe that only criminals and bad people are left to cope with this black hole of pain and suffering. The drug war serves a purpose a very specific one and there is no arguing about that.
A quick history lesson can tell you everything you need to know about the construction of the War on Drugs and its bullshit . Between the narcotics tax act of 1914 and Richard Nixons bull shit war on Drugs in the 1970’s a full on drug war was created. Let me be very clear it is not anything less than WAR, an outright war against people. The death toll at this point is overwhelming. I would not even know where to begin, but I can tell you we have more prison in America than anywhere in the world. Anywhere in the world. It was all designed to harm minorities and keep them from obtaining full on citizenship with their full range of civil rights. The war on drugs allowed the government to raid the homes of black leaders, detain them, imprison them, and continue our racist systems of inequality. The Drug War has done exactly what the proponents of it wanted to do. Black men have a 1 and 3 chance of going to prison. Non violent drug users do more time than rapist and child molestors regularlly because of mandatory minimums.
I knew private prisons were bad, but I did not understand the extent to which the were AWFUL. I wrote a little bit about them the other day. I encourage you to check it out. They are totally FUCKED. Another part of the machine that must be fed. The question is this. We were moving away from this system and now we are going right back to it. More prison, more racism, more human rights violations, more pain for millions of people and families. When is enough enough?