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The Beginnings of the “War on Drugs”

The “War on Drugs” was officially launched in the early 1970s when President Nixon coined the term. This program was an expansion of national drug policies dating back to the early 1900s. Initially, the drive was sparked by the alarming rise in drug use by military service members in the Vietnam War. The outrage that this sparked offered a high-profile look at drug addiction and its consequences within the US. The ultimate result of this policy and movement, regardless of its effectiveness, was a newfound appreciation for the scope of the disease of addiction.

Drug abuse and addiction is still a battle faced today, and it remains a difficult societal issue in the United States. Further, the war on drugs has been controversial. Since the beginning of the program, the United States has spent trillions of dollars on drug prevention and offense prosecution. The results have not only been mixed, but we are plagued more than ever with an ever-increasing population of addicts nationwide.

While drugs were once considered to be a personal choice, today we understand that addiction is a confluence of many physical, psychological, social and genetic issues that alone, or in tandem, can cause a person to turn to drugs.

The war on drugs will likely never end and will take on many forms as it continues to be prosecuted. As treatment providers in an industry where peoples’ lives hang in the balance, we hope that the evolution of the war on drugs allows us to be more effective in our work.