Pubdate: Tue, 27 Aug 2002
Source: Eau Claire Leader-Telegram (WI)
Copyright: 2002 Eau Claire Press
Author: Dave Michon


The letter from the self-professed addict in the county jail indicts
imprisoning addicts when no other crime of property or violence has
been committed.

Advances in neuroscience have lain bare the biological basis for
addiction, and all experts of note, both in and out of government,
have proclaimed addiction a "brain disease."

Despite the evidence, and with a witch trial vehemence, we continue to
treat this disease as if it were a pre-meditated crime.

Yes, there may be some choice involved when an addiction begins, but
this invariably occurs during uniquely painful adolescence, and
society has never held youth indefinitely culpable for mistakes of
youth. Once addiction is set, true volition has flown.

Addiction is characterized by relapse -- indeed it is a prime
definition of it, but we treat relapse as if it were an ever-more
serious crime. Why must this one condition, unlike other neurological
and mental conditions, be treated in such an ignorant and barbaric

If drug use is such a scourge that we declare "war" upon it and expend
tens of billions on its hopeless prosecution, surely it must be
because it has the capacity to harm our citizens -- to produce
victims! These victims are the poor suffering addicts in our midst --
addicts we cage amongst violent and dangerous felons.

The Drug War is built upon shifting sands of careerism, prejudice and
stupidity, but this constant attack upon the very victims of drugs,
these members of our families, is a base evil, and compassionate
people should tolerate it no more.


Eau Claire
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