Having just watched the funeral of this legendary performer I can’t help but wonder if the way society treats drug addiction didn’t somehow contribute to her death…
Drug addiction is a public health issue that is primarily handled by the criminal justice system. Instead of throwing addicts into rehab we throw them in prison, which makes no sense whatsoever. A lot of people are of the opinion that drugs are evil, that they cause crime and ruin lives- all of which are true but isn’t because they are criminalized?
By making drugs illegal the prices are artificially inflated, the proceeds are used to fund criminal enterprises and billions are being wasted in the “Prison- Industrial Complex” warehousing people that are sick and not necessarily criminal.
What if drugs were decriminalized, taxed and addicts were rehabilitated instead of incarcerated?
Take a look at Portugal. Ten years after decriminalizing ALL drugs, abuse is down by HALF!
The success there shows that treatment works where incarceration fails. State spending on drug related problems have also dropped by treating addiction as a public health issue.
The drug war frames addiction in fear, discouraging the addict from getting the help that they need and leaves the State with few resources to help those that need it.
So how could stopping the drug war have saved Whitney?
It probably would not have. A person with her resources already has access to the finest rehab facilities in the world.
But where even a “mediocre” treatment center can cost 20K a month- who but the rich or the well-insured even have the option to get help? Decriminalization may not stop addiction- nothing will. People are going to abuse intoxicants. But as a Society- we need to move away from demonizing the sick and provide them with the help they need, and a jail cell is just making the problem worse.