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Many people have opposing views on how the drug problem should be tackled, with the epicentre of any debate focusing on two differing solutions to tackle the problem. These two solutions consist of imposing a sanction such as prison, or tackling the problem from a different angle by offering probation to an offender coupled with drug treatment programs. This article will assess to the effectiveness of the two systems. Firstly, the drug crisis and its effects on society will be examined. Following from this will be an assessment of each of the systems, focusing upon there effectiveness. Finally, some alternatives will be advocated that depart from the present system. After assessing all of the evidence available, the conclusion that will be reached is that if society is to curtail the exponential rise in drug abuse, a far more informative system must be implemented, before another generation is lost to drug abuse.

The Drug Conundrum

Drugs have been around in some form or another since 4000BC (Egyptians with wine and marijuana used for medicinal purposes in China). Although drugs were widely used, it was not until the 19th century that the active substances in drugs were extracted and used as a lifestyle choice.

The addictive nature of drugs was immediately apparent, although there was a gradual recognition of this property with the passing of the first national drug law, the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. The destructive nature of alcohol in society led to the prohibition period in America. Therefore, the drug problem has been around, and more importantly, been acknowledged for some time.

The experimentation period of the 1960’s had a profound effect on society. The ethos was love, drugs, social ideological rebellion, more drugs, and then more drugs. The administration was rocked to its very foundations, which culminated in far more draconian police force. Whether proliferation in state interference was inevitable, a position advocated by Orwell, or whether it was a result of drug taking, one can only surmise. Nevertheless, the position is conclusive, drugs have had a significant effect on society. How society has chosen to deal with this crisis will now be examined.

The Threat of Prison as a Deterrent for drug Use

For an addict, the threat of prison is about as effective as a chocolate teapot in the desert. It relies on the premise that the addiction is controllable. Anybody who smokes or drinks coffee on a regular basis should be in a position to bear testament that the addictive nature of these two substances, once removed, can have severe effects on their day to day lives. So, what about heroin or crack cocaine?

Heroin addiction and crack cocaine addiction are possibly two of the most severe drugs for creating dependency and also tolerance. As higher doses are used, over time, physical dependence and addiction develop. With physical dependence, the body has become used to the presence of the drug and withdrawal symptoms may occur if use is reduced or stopped.

The symptoms that a person going through withdrawal process are cravings, restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhoea and vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps (“cold turkey”), kicking movements, and other symptoms. Major withdrawal symptoms peak between 48 and 72 hours after the last dose and subside after about a week. Sudden withdrawal by heavily dependent users who are in poor health can prove to be fatal. Prison cannot be an effective deterrent against such symptoms.

Effectiveness of Probation

Probation is a term that can have a multitude of meanings, and, may be imposed after a prison sentence, although for drug users, this is often too little too late. The interpretation given in a dictionary is ‘the act of suspending the sentence Kreditkarten kaufen of a person convicted of a criminal offence and granting that person provisional freedom on the promise of good behaviour’. This provisional period can entail many things for a convicted drug user, with impositions such as involuntary drug programmes and drug testing.

Involuntary drug programmes can entail taking substitute drugs to wean a person off a specific drug, resulting in a lower dependency and a reduced level of tolerance. The problems that can emanate form these programs consist of a lack of secondary support for drug users. This can result in an individual being drawn back into a cyclic situation which ultimately results in that individual taking the very drugs that the substitute drug was supposed replace. Involuntary drug tests emanated from America and involve a person being requested to take a drug test within a specific period of time. If the person tests positive, then the suspended sentence is then imposed, these will often lead to a custodial sentence.

Whilst the two systems do have their own merits, it is possible to adduce from these two alternatives a far from satisfactory conclusion. Both systems rely heavily on the circumstances that the drug user finds themselves in once the probation period has been imposed. Those who have funded their habit through criminal activities will often have a criminal record, and thus will be unable to find employment. They will often still exist in the very same peer groups where the original problems emanated, therefore, there must be a more viable solution to this drug quandary.

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