Illegal drugs form an estimated fifty billion dollar industry, patronized by over 15 million Americans, which constitutes 7 percent of the population with the ages above 12. It is a young age that causes worry to the whole population. Back in the years, from 1985 up until 2001, drugs were number one grumble that every member of the nation had. It was in retort to this situation that the government in conjunction with other states and federal institutions enacted and implemented policies that were aimed at curbing the issue of drug usage.
These policies prohibited the use of any sort of psychoactive substances like cocaine, heroin and marijuana. There were such moves as proscribing the growing of some classes of plants that included coca in the source countries to try and exterminate the smugglers in an effort to reduce the quantities of drugs in the United States streets. It is a very important public policy challenge in that it affects the whole of the country since these drugs are smuggled and made obtainable in the streets of United States, making it an obstruction in the drug policy implementation.
The Long History of Drugs
There is a very good reason to look into the long history of drugs in the United States soil. It goes far back into the mid nineteenth century. In the early 1900s, there were not so many drugs, hence, consumption was low. By the early 1950s, the prevalence rate of drug abuse stood at a surprising 50 percent. There were many reasons attributed to this rise in consumption. The war against drugs has been a very long battle and much has been done to curb the epidemic. Notably, educational campaigns against the use of drugs have been aired on the media. The rallies against drug abuse have been embodied into the school curriculum. The government has also spent a lot of money to treat and rehabilitate the victims through many months of all embracing counseling. The government has also enacted and implemented laws against the growers and the smugglers of the drugs that provided strict and hefty penalties for anyone playing part to the smuggling of drugs (Orcutt & Rudy, 2003).
There are major setbacks that have not made the enforcement of the drug policy effective. First is the issue between the balance among the treatment, enforcement and prevention have certainly not been optimal (MacCoun & Reuter, 2001). Most of the funds provided by the government are forwarded to the enforcement basket, leaving the treatment and rehabilitation with inadequate funds. The enforcement itself is very problematic when it is used against a well established market. The disrupted markets are easily replaced and the incarcerated drug sellers are easily replaced by the remnant members in the streets.
Treatment, also, has its shortfalls. It is a process that cannot solve problems that are deemed to be more immediate, like an increase in the volume of drugs sold in a given street. The most effective way to sort this out is enforcement. At one fell swoop, globalization has also greatly affected the illegal drug trading. The advancement in the levels of transport and communication as well as the easement on the trade barriers have made it more difficult for the United States government to monitor and keep track of each and everything that goes through its borders (Caulkins, 2002).
Ways of Curbing this Problem
There are many potential ways of curbing this problem that poses as a hindrance to the drug policy. First, the government of the United States should start drafting strategies against drug use that are long term and not short term. The government usually sets its drug war strategies for two to four years, but it should focus on the bigger picture of the long term solution for a longer term. All the three policy levers should be used effectively during the epidemic cycle in such a mix that controls drug use and abuse. At the explosive growth stage, the best instrument to be put to use is enforcement. Pragmatically, this is the only tool that is capable of yielding an immediate effect, so it plays a distinguishingly valuable part.
There are stings of bust buying in order to make arrests and make the drug peddlers walk on tenterhooks when selling their products to strangers. When this has successfully reduced the drugs in the streets, treatment comes in order to curtail the consumption by the users and to try and mitigate the adverse effects of withdrawal of the drugs. The drug prevention programs should always be underway in order to prevent the outbreak of another cycle of the epidemic. It substantially helps in reducing the number of addicts, should there be the start of another cycle (Lyman, 2010).
The people should also work hard to prevent drugs and substance abuse. Members of the public should ask for forums where all the children, who are most prone to drug abuse, should attend and are filled in on the policies that are in effect in order to protect those who have not had the chance to use the drugs. The public should be given a report on the policies put in place for the prevention of the escalating drug abuse cases (McCaffrey, 1998).
The best solution is the effective use of the three policy levers at each stage of the challenge as the tools are used in an effective mix that spans through the whole cycle.