a bird and a bottle

Here we go again….
November 30, 2006, 7:42 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

The President has designated today (11/30) as National Methamphetamine Awareness Day. So what are we to do to note this occassion? Get the facts straight, says Margaret Dooley of the Drug Policy Alliance.

In a smart piece on posted at AlterNet today, Dooley debunks a lot of the myths about meth in the U.S. – a necessary task since it was the hyping of myths that led to unnecessary national panic about crack cocaine and “crack babies” in the 1980s. Since then, the “crack baby” myth has been disproven, but we are still dealing with the fallout of the crack “crisis” in our criminal justice system. Yet in spite of all this, the media has already started fanning the flames of a “meth baby” scare, over the objections of scientific experts and medical doctors.

And a shot of truth is the best antidote to fear mongering.

As Dooley notes, methamphetamine is a problem in the U.S., but the numbers of people who use meth are lower than for most other illicit drugs. And there’s not evidence that meth use is growing – in fact, it has been on the decline for a while now (even Bush admits that in his proclamation linked above). Further, as with crack addiction, policing and incarcerating meth users has not and is not solving the puzzle of addiction. Instead, as the success of California’s recent Prop. 36, which funded drug treatment demonstrates, meth addiction is better cured through treatment than through incarceration.

So what are we to do about all this? Dooley has some effective and progressive proposals in her story for how we should push to change state laws, using California as a model but going even further.


2 Comments so far
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While I agree about the treatment v. policing issue, I get the sense that she is being somewhat dismissive of the meth problem in the US. Meth is having some pretty devastating effects on some communities, including gay men in urban areas who are seeing a rise in HIV transmission that is directly related to use of this nasty drug.

Comment by Fishwatch

Fishwatch, you’re definitely right that we can’t be dismissive of meth’s harmful effects (and I’m particularly glad you brought this up on – or just after – World AIDS Day, which was Dec. 1). I think we can be mindful of its dangers, though, while keeping in mind the lessons learned from the country’s experience with crack in the 80s (at least in terms of public discourse).

Comment by bean

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