The War on Drugs Must Be Ended and Replaced

This is FREE sample
This text is free, available online and used for guidance and inspiration. Need a 100% unique paper? Order a custom essay.
  • Any subject
  • Within the deadline
  • Without paying in advance
Get custom essay


The purpose in writing this essay is to shed light and possibly convince voters and policy makers in the United States to dispel their support of the War on Drugs. More than 40 years ago, United States President Richard Nixon declared what is to be public enemy number one: drug abuse (Vulliami 2011). This decision sparked the beginning of an unprecedented global campaign: The War on Drugs. Nowadays, the results are of his decisions are clear: The War on Drugs is a tremendous failure with devastating unintended consequences.

It has further facilitated the issue of mass-incarceration in the United States, contributed to corruption, political destabilization and violence in Latin America, Asia and Africa. It also contributed to the systemic abuses of human rights throughout the world. It continues to negatively affect the lives of millions of people. All of this, while our government continues to pour billions of dollars each year into this war, whilst unknowingly creating fuel for the drug cartels. While the objective of The War on Drugs seems less feasible than ever, (a world without drugs) it is surely far from impossible.

The History

The driving message and force behind the war on drugs is the idea that the absence of drugs entails the absence of problems, which is why almost all efforts in recent decades have focused on eradicating the supply of drugs and imprisoning the drug traffickers. The problem with this way of handling the issue is that it blatantly ignores the most fundamental market forces in economics; supply and demand. If you reduce the supply of anything (drugs are no exception) without reducing the demand first, then the price of that product will increase.

This could reduce sales for many products, but not for the sale of illegal substances. The black market is not price sensitive. The drugs will continue to be consumed regardless of the cost because addiction knows few bounds. This means that cutting the supply of the drugs only works to stimulate the production of even more drugs and the recruitment of more traffickers, which increases availability. This is also known as the ‘Balloon Effect’ (Laffiteau 2010). Even if the production of drugs or an important supply route is destroyed, the supply to the buyer will not be reduced.

A perfect example of this is found in the drug known as Crystal Meth. The government of the United States has tried to stop its production simply by regulating the sale of chemical products used to manufacture the drug. This forced large methamphetamine producers to close down production and business, but the unintended consequences were the thousands of small-scale operations that started setting up shop all around the country.

These were mainly in small towns and rural communities and they were found to be using chemicals that were not regulated. In response to this, some states wanted to reduce the supply of methamphetamine grown in the home by regulating even more chemicals, which drastically reduced small-scale production. But the methamphetamine supply remained the same. The Mexican drug cartels took over immediately and opened much larger scale production operations. So all these efforts made the production of methamphetamine more professional and the drug more potent, while the supply was not reduced at all.

The Failure

It is not possible to win the War on Drugs by attacking the supplier because addiction has a strong tendency to curse consumers with an unwavering demand. Not only are the drugs widely available, they are uninterrupted, and some medications are purer than in the past due to repeated failed efforts by our government. With a budget of around $30 billion, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration has an efficiency rate of less than 1% when it comes to stopping the flow of illegal drugs into the United States, and within the United States (United Nations 2015). For many adolescents around the world, it is as easy to obtain illegal drugs as it is to obtain alcohol. But damages of this war does not stop here.

The ban can prevent a only a certain amount of people using drugs, but in the process cause great harm to society in general. Many of the problems that we associate with the use of drugs are actually caused by the war against them. For example, the prohibition makes drugs are stronger. The more powerful medications you can store in the smallest possible space, the greater the benefit you will get from a business standpoint. This draws eerie connections to the early 20th century, where many of the same effects on the black market were seen during the prohibition of alcohol, which led to a greater consumption of strong liquor, instead of beer (Blocker 2016).

The drug ban also has led to more violence and killings around the world. Gangs and cartels simply do not have access to the legal system to resolve disputes, so they use violence. With no legal backing, a spiral of cesspool brutality has ensued since the dawn of the War on Drugs. According to some estimates, the homicide rate in the United States is 25-75% higher because of the war on drugs. (Allan 2015)

Where the war on drugs has the potential to cause the greatest harm to society is the incarceration of nonviolent drug-related offenders. For example, the United States, one of the driving forces of the War on Drugs, has 5% of the world’s total population, but 25% of the world’s prison population (Obama 2015). This is largely due to severe, unjust punishments and penalties towards drug users, and mandatory minimums. Minorities suffer from this especially. African Americans make up 40% of all inmates in the United States. And white teens are more likely to abuse drugs, black teens are 10 times more likely to be arrested for drug offenses (Rothwell 2014). Is there something different that we can do? Is there any way out of this mess?

The Solution

In the 1980s, Switzerland experienced a public health crisis related to the use of heroin. HIV rates skyrocketed and street crime became a problem. The Swiss authorities tested a new strategy: harm reduction. Here, Switzerland made a decision based on the obvious flaws in policies issued to harm the supply of illegal drugs. They opened free heroin maintenance centers, where addicts would be treated and stabilized. Here, people would receive high quality free heroin, get clean needles and have access to safe injection rooms, showers, beds and medical supervision.

Social workers help them find housing and deal with other problems in their lives. The results were a sharp drop in drug-related crimes and two-thirds of people in the centers got regular jobs, because now they could focus on improving, rather than financing their addiction. Today, more than 70% of all heroin addicts in Switzerland receive treatment. HIV infections have decreased drastically. Deaths from heroin overdoses have been reduced by 50%. In addition, sex work and street crime related to drugs have also been greatly reduced (Savary & Hallam 2009).


Switzerland made a decision based on the obvious flaws in policies issued to harm the supply of illegal drugs in countries like the United States. They, instead, transferred their focus onto those using the substances. This did not mean punishing them and throwing mentally ill addicts into cages, rather, they sought to help them recover in the safest, most humane way possible. It is clear that there are methods that are not only cheaper, but also are actually effective, rather than just creating a slew of more problems.

The prohibition of drugs has led to a system that destroys human rights, wastes large sums of money and creates unjustifiable human misery; All of this in pursuit of an unattainable goal. After 40 years of struggle, it is time to finally terminate the War on Drugs and move towards something better. The United States should use Switzerland as its muse.

Cite this paper

The War on Drugs Must Be Ended and Replaced. (2021, Mar 26). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-war-on-drugs-must-be-ended-and-replaced/

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Peter is on the line!

Don't settle for a cookie-cutter essay. Receive a tailored piece that meets your specific needs and requirements.

Check it out