Experts Say Drug Efforts Should Be Prevention

Experts Say Drug Efforts Should Be Prevention
Posted by CN Staff on August 02, 2002 at 09:51:45 PT
Source: Toledo Blade
The federal government in the last decade has increased its focus on preventing drug use and thereby reducing demand, Tom Hedrick, a founder of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, said during a taping of The Editors television program."I hope that we will see more of a change in the focus of resources to where the rhetoric is," he said.
"Because I clearly believe that this issue comes down to, in the end, prevention - better understanding by the public in communities around the country that prevention has worked, has produced extraordinary results."There are 10 million fewer drug users in the United States today than during the height of the mid-1980s crack epidemic, he said."We’ve already demonstrated as a society an ability to do this," he said.Calling it a "war on drugs" suggests a beginning and an end propelled by guns, helicopters, and violence, he said. Instead, prevention means thinking of where the issue begins, with one child at a time making a decision about whether to use or not - and what follows from that."Our single responsibility here is what can I do with my child, what can I do in my community, what can I do to support good in-school education?" he said.If parents "can help your kids get through their teenage years without engaging in these behaviors, they’re virtually certain not to do so as an adult," he said. "What a gift we can give our children."Ohio prevention and treatment officials would like to see a reversal of the federal trend "of spending more on drug interdiction," said Stacey Frohnapfel, of the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services. "We certainly always need more for treatment, but we’ve seen less spending for prevention over the last few years."Ms. Frohnapfel expressed opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment on the Nov. 5 ballot that would require treatment for nonviolent first and second-time drug offenders instead of jail time.She said Ohio judges since 1994 have had the option of ordering treatment, and that has worked.The amendment "takes away accountability from the individual and it takes away any judicial discretion," she said.She and Mr. Hedrick were questioned by Thomas Walton, vice president-editor of The Blade.The Editors will be broadcast at 9 tonight on WGTE-TV, Channel 30, and at 12:30 p.m. Sunday on WBGU-TV, Channel 27.When adults talk about whether drugs should be legalized, "we’ve got to remember the impact that has on the way kids view that behavior," Mr. Hedrick said. "When we give the impression that it’s socially acceptable, they’re more likely to use it. We have to be careful about how we talk about that drug."Legalizing marijuana, Ms. Frohnapfel said, "would be a disaster. As it is now, young people get the majority of their alcohol from mom and dad’s liquor cabinet."Unlike a 40-year-old who decides to light up a joint, a 15-year-old’s brain hasn’t finished developing yet, and it effectively retards that development at a teenager’s age, depending on how much a young person uses."Legalizing marijuana for medical use should be left to medical and health professionals, Mr. Hedrick said, not popular vote. If good medical evidence supports such use, "absolutely it should be made available to people who can benefit from it."Note: The legalization of marijuana would be a ‘disaster.’Complete Title: The Editors: Experts Say Drug Effort’s Focus Should Be PreventionSource: Blade, The (OH) Published: Friday, August 2, 2002Copyright: 2002 The Blade Contact: letters Website: Related Articles & Web Site:Ohio Drug Reformhttp://www.ohiodrugreform.orgPosturing Begins in Campaign to Change Drug Laws Rips Plan To Treat, Not Jail, Drug Offenders's Plot to Subvert an Election in Ohio 
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