Pubdate: Fri, 03 Apr 2009
Source: Daily Reflector (Greenville, NC)
Copyright: 2009 Daily Reflector
Author: David Ames, M. D.


Recently the news has been full of reports of violence in Mexico and
some border states, all related to the export of illicit drugs to the
United States. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted, this trade
is directly related to our insatiable appetite for illicit drugs. Tom
Teepen, in his March 28 column "Drug war surging," wrote of the need
to move beyond the "war on drugs" strategies promoted that have been
in favor for the last 30 years. Unfortunately in his list of options
he completely avoids mentioning prevention. Drug use prevention
programs have been seriously underfunded, receiving a small fraction
of the resources devoted to the problem. Yet prevention is the most
cost-effective strategy and when strongly promoted has marked effects.

The reduction in tobacco use is an example of what can be achieved
with a comprehensive approach including changing community norms,
policies and prices; cigarette smoking went from 45 percent of the
population in the 1960s to less than 20 percent currently. The
increased tax on alcohol and tobacco products being proposed by the
governor is one very effective mechanism to decrease youth substance
use and should be supported by our legislators. Furthermore, a portion
of the revenue obtained should be dedicated to efforts to prevent
substance use particularly among youth. The Pitt County Substance
Abuse Coalition promotes drug and alcohol prevention in all sectors of
the community; just as substance abuse affects everyone so also the
prevention of this disorder requires everyone's participation.

David Ames, M. D.

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