Demons, Discrimination and Dollars: A Brief History of the Origins of American Drug Policy


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This monograph is an effort to explain why, as a people, as a government, we in the United States did not follow the road of the Shamans, or for that matter of pre 1875 Americans, or conclude, as Andrew Weil and Norman Taylor have, that altered states are important to mental health. I apologize up front for not having all the anthropological tools necessary for a detailed examination of the topic. This book is a good synopsis and starting point. I leave it to the scholars to flesh out my observations. My ideas come from reading, conversation, experience and rumination.
I examine why we have chosen the route that has repeatedly proven unsuccessful, that has stood in the way of expanding our understanding of the human mind and that not only has not worked, but has been counterproductive. Even discussion of an alternative which downplays a criminal justice approach of substance abuse in favor of treatment and prevention, cannot be tolerated in present-day America. The acceptance of even drug use, as opposed to drug abuse, of demonized drugs has been condemned by politicians of both major parties. There has been some support from Green Libertarians, the occasional Libertarian leaning Republican and an occasional or minority Democrat for a medical and/or non-governmental approach.
Why have we overlooked the obvious solution? Raising a child who feels loved in a loving, nurturing, safe home environment. Numerous studies bear this out. Dr. Ira Chesnoff's work in Chicago with mother's with a history of cocaine abuse during pregnancy and their children did well when the family was provided a comprehensive program of drug abuse treatment, Head start, parenting skills, counseling and good nutrition. Chesnoff notes that these kids of former cocaine-abusing mothers who had experienced this intervention had an IQ that was higher than children of non-cocaine using moms. Until we spend more money on promoting family values, teaching acceptable parenting techniques, create an economy that allows parents and children quality time, address anger management, have early intervention to prevent family violence and recognizing the role of genetics and dysfunctional families contribution to ADHD, we will continue on what has become a more and more destructive, ineffectual and racist path.