Pubdate: Wed, 24 Feb 1999
Date: 02/24/1999
Source: USA Today (US)
Author: Gene Tinelli, M.D.

Editor's Note: This letter was first posted by mistake as a OPED


The casualties and costs of the war on drugs continue to mount, and
one of its major leaders, Drug Enforcement Administration chief Thomas
Constantine, now is saying we are both unwilllling and unable to
fight.("DEA chief: Drug fight lacks desire," News, Friday).

We have been here before.  Thirty years ago, the Vietnam conflict was
sucking us dry. There seem to be no end to the human suffering, and we
apparently were addicted to that horrible war.  How did it end?
Eventually, when the leaders of the war and media realized that our
country was unwilling and unable to win the battle, we just said "no"
to the war.

Couldn't we apply the lessons so painfully learned in the Vietnam
conflict to our present situation in the drug war? The desire to use
psychoactive drugs appears very strong, and tens of millions of
Americans use illicit drugs. If you include all psychoactive drugs -
alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, performance-enhancing substances and
others - the vast majority of  Americans use psychoactive drugs.  We
can't defeat them  because they are us.

How long must we suffer before we say enough? End the drug war

By Gene Tinelli, M.D. Addiction Psychiatrist, State University of New
York, Syracuse