What do you think about this video, it's about a program run by the police to convert some smalltime drug dealers to law-abiding citizens, with job training.
Two things about it bothered me. I don't believe in criminalizing drugs, people have a right over their own bodies.
I don't know how drug legalization would play out in this context where people are using crack. My experience with drug use comes from college where we used marijuana and sometimes hallucinogens. I wasn't harmed by it and it was interesting, and I kept on using marijuana about once every couple weeks for the next 25 years. I quit because I became allergic to it, not because of anything negative about the drug experience. For me, drugs were benign.
I did try cocaine and (I think) speed once. But I never injected anything - that seemed hardcore and dangerous. I didn't want to go down the tubes. I didn't get physically addicted. Maybe I would have tried crack if someone had offered, but now that I've heard about the risks, there's no way I would! Although I'd likely try hallucinogens if I could get a hypoallergenic version :)
So why is the drug experience in these poor city neighborhoods, less benign? Why are these people using crack, not just whiffing on a joint of marijuana? Why would they not have that same dread of getting into something dangerous? Why are babies being born with damage from crack or alcohol? People don't have control over their lives?
And what would happen to these poor neighborhoods if the crack were legalized? I don't know how legalization would work - maybe crack would be sold only by licensed dealers to adults with a VERY SCARY warning label, with clinics to help people get over addiction to it. Maybe the smalltime drug dealers would be retrained to work in the drug rehab clinics :) The scary and punitive handcuffs, jail and police approach is so mean.
The other problem is, you can see in this video that these smalltime drug dealers are living on the edge financially. When they stopped selling drugs, that took away their ability to support their families!
One of the drug dealers says sadly to one of the police officers working with them that the trouble is, they are flat, flat broke. She responds only by lecturing him about how badly he's let HER down.
But isn't it important for these people to have some way of getting through the training financially? It sounds like it was sink or swim, in terms of money. I don't know if some kind of social services could have helped.
In college, someone who was dealing drugs had a disagreement with his source about money. So some guys with guns came to his room and robbed him. No court available to adjudicate.
Similar things are true for prostitutes. Once years ago I was woken in the middle of the night by a phone call. It was a woman panting in terror that someone was coming to get her. I think she was at a public phone booth. She asked for someone but she had a wrong number, and hung up.
She should have called 911 but probably she was afraid of getting the police involved.
You might enjoy this Dateline episode. In which a drug dealer figures as the hero. I liked it a lot.
It has been my experience (I am now 47 y.o.a.) that lots of people have used and sold drugs for many years and then decided to stop either selling and most times, using too. Much of their turnaround seems to be eventuated by more positive occurances in their lives. They had kids, or were elevated into a new career and whatnot. Most of these people who are rotting in jail now will NEVER get that chance due to the gross stigmatization and reprobation they have been harshly burdened with. I wish I could recall all of the conversations I've had with successful business owners (and others of their type) who financed the early days of their endeavours through the sale of drugs. But the funny thing is in a majority of these case they still drink, smoke pot, or use some sort of illicit drug on occasion. They did NOT become ""fiends.
I am of the opinion that there is some sort of neurological limit or switch that gets adjusted (best term I could come up with) either through the chemical changes that can come about through the experience of real and tangible successes in life. Or that just merely through the process of aging the thrill of the game becomes not just elusive, but impossible to recreate anymore.
Sending boys and girls to prison and stigmatizing them forever (because computers NEVER forget and are completely incapable of forgiveness and we, as a people, are being trained to behave just as a computer does) that once they learn from the other inmates just how totally fucked the system has made their future, there just isn't much hope or even the sense that things will get better. No matter what.
I, for whatever reason, have never even been close to addicted to any drug that I have ever tried (except nicotine and alcohol) and I've tried them all. I will always remain curious as to why that is. It MUST be connected to my particular brain chemistry. And if this is so then it MUST also have a strong genetic factor. And if this is also true then it stands to reason that somewhere in my evolutionary history (and by extension, everybody else's too)my ancestors used and enjoyed the effect of mind-altering substances. Therefore what remains to be seen is why we continue to incarcerate, stigmatize, hate, vilify, destroy, berate and generally make what is almost certain to be just average, normal and inherited behavior like changing our human perceptions the most despised thing there is.
The drug war will be the last truly legal form of genocide this world will see.
A lot of it is aging. I was having this same discussion with a friend just yesterday. She and I got out because we a) grew up b) aged out and c) had families to care for for us. Some people die before they get a chance to age out. Others, like you said, get burned out on the chase. Many things we thought were fun when we were in our twenties weren't fun at all in our thirties and forties. As for the genetic predisposition that's a fact. She's still an alcoholic as were her parents and theirs before her. The drug war is bullshit. As you also stated a person will be stigmatized for life for some small indiscretion. Unless that person has enough money to buy their way out of it.
The particular drug-using culture you're in, makes a big difference. In college, which is where I used drugs, people avoided the hard stuff. There was no PCP used, no downers (except a lot of alcohol!) and crack and meth weren't around yet. Nobody injected anything, although one friend did inject himself once with a drug in private.
The street drug culture is much more of a risk for being damaged by the drugs themselves as well as damaged by the criminal justice system. Both things happen.
As for the real addictiveness of drugs like meth and crack, the actual truth seems to be somewhere between "try it once and you're hooked", and "only a few become addicted". I read some drug forum threads to get an idea of whether people who use meth occasionally, eventually become addicted or not. It's clear that meth is very habit-forming. Apparently a big part of that is that the crash after the high is bad and people fix it by taking more meth.
Okay, I found another reference about the 15-20% addiction rate. Written by yet another neuroscientist with an evolutionary psychologist point of view. The name of the book is "The Pleasure Instinct"; written by Gene Wallenstein. He describes the possible evolutionary path the role of pleasure has and how pleasure affects our decisions. Most of the book is pretty benign, but a section concerning drug addiction is surprising in that there is very little in common with current theories of addiction and the propaganda that gets spewed by the media (and, ahem, elsewhere). He kind of tiptoes around the fact that there is absolutely no way that this is any sort of "new" phenemenon (Circa Nixon and "The War on Drugs") but is in fact something that may be "hardwired" into our genome and hence our neurochemistry.
I have a theory: The reason why we like to do drugs and drink and seek thrills etc.and etc. is because it has been getting beta males and females laid for eons. Can't think of anything else that has brought so many children into this world and it's an enviromental/gene connection that can no longer be severed.
I know that this discussion has kind of died here but just got an interesting feed from Facebook. Go to Connecticut Colleges website (Concoll.edu) to view a new research paper that has the interesting theme that Heroin and Cocaine are no more addictive than Oreo cookies. Just saying....