There's the punitive approach that over many years has proven absolutely futile. The U. S. leads the industrial world in rates of incarceration - most of it for drug-law violations - with absolutely no stemming effect. Then there's the rehabilitation approach - as expensive as incarceration if done right and effective only in some cases. There's the parental-control approach through communication and role modeling. And there's the legalization approach that would put drug dispensing under government control. This has the advantage of identifying drug users with the hope of possibly treating them, and of destroying the huge and socially destructive criminal drug-trade network.
Strangely, whatever the merits or drawbacks of each, these are all after-the-fact solutions with virtually no attention given to the possible causes of the problem.
In addition, the world is experiencing an epochal transition in which human labor is being replaced by technology, ending forever the traditional role of the human being as the instrument of his own survival. This is a wrenching historical moment when the individual must find a new "self" - perhaps a more creative and intellectual one - and the economic system, now clearly faltering, must morph into one that accommodates the new means of production and distribution. Whether we are aware of these changes or not, they are affecting our young people - and they are upsetting, profoundly dislocating, and difficult to contend with. Altering mindsets through drugs becomes the understandable palliative - the "happiness pill" of Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World." There are no effective answers to be found without the courage, intelligence and integrity to uproot the causes. To view any social problem in isolation - i. e. , as an exclusively "personal" problem outside of the total social context - is to doom any attempt at solution to failure.
Unless the deeper causative issues are faced and resolved, I don't think for one second that any of the proposed "solutions" to the drug problem will make even a dent in one of the great tragedies of our day: crippled and wasted humanity.
Andrew Torre lives in Landgrove.