Ayesha Sayed

Student, UAEU

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If you could influence this issue, what would you do to drug addicts?

I have a brother who was plagued by addiction for almost 8 years, it was a battle for everyone in the family. I saw him suffering through the addiction, being deported, depressed and our family being ripped apart. If you could influence the destiny of these addicts, what would you do? would you allow them to suffer in jails or would you help rehabilitate them and become better humans? I know how dangerous addicts can be but don't they deserve a chance at life?

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    Jan 8 2012: De-criminalising drug use may be the first step in the right direction, in recognition that we are dealing with a health issue. The current social view that specific drugs are labelled legal or illegal does not change the status of an addict to either.

    As we are talking about addicts here, we must also acknowledge that we are no longer dealing with the person, we are conversing with their specific addiction, whether that be alcohol, nicotine, prescription drugs or heroin. Addiction is a compulsion beyond what one might recognise as being detrimental to ones health. The call to re-use at this point is all-powerful.

    If we identify cigarette addiction, prescription drug addiction or alcoholism as health issues and offer encouragement, resources, patience and support via health related institutions for those who wish to give it up, why do we not see the need of the same for other addictions? By not offering help and placing the fear of being labelled a criminal above their heads, we leave them and their families with the burden of trying to deal with an issue they are not qualified to deal with.

    If one feels satisfied with life, fulfilled and confident in themselves and most importantly recognises hope in their life, the question to use or not to use is generally, a non-issue. In 'most' instances a one off curiosity does not an addict make. The most pertinent question at first is Why? Why do you want to escape life as it is now? Then - What? What do we need to do as a global society to reduce this continual need to seek a a temporary altered state, whether by legal or illegal substances? The 'cause' has to be addressed in order for lasting changes to occur.

    Therefore, I feel the secret lies in prevention (discover the why), decriminalisation, education with complete open and honest discourse and support for all affected (including family and friends). In fact if I could change one thing in this world it would be honesty and openness in ALL matters... imagine that!
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    Jan 5 2012: Legallize all narcotics, and salary cap distributors and growers at minimum wage. Make selling drugs, the worst way our of poverty, with zero incentive to advertise. Use the tax money to properly label, and force all distributors to provide phone numbers and addresses, for treatment and rehab facilities paid for by drug taxes. Make the addicts pay for their addiction, financially, not physically, and you will have given them powerful incentives to change. That's all you can do, life is a choice, so is death. Giant letters "THIS MIGHT KILL YOU"... if that doesn't stop you... nothing will.
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      Jan 5 2012: But governments around the world fine drug addicts and THEN jail them. I don't understand what is to be gained from this. Instead, we can turn those jails into rehabilitation centers and help them get back on their feet?
    • Jan 6 2012: Lol, force distributors to provide phone numbers and addresses? How are you going to do that? Call them criminals and lock them up if they fail to comply? Somehow I doubt that will dissuade them... Same thing with salary caps, if they're already making more than that selling drugs illegally, why take the pay hit?
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        Jan 6 2012: They won't, poor people, and convicted felons will. Quality will drop at first. There are people out there who would happily take a full time minimum wage pay check to give drug addicts safer access to their addiction. If 7-11 wants to sell drugs, it can't profit more than minimum wage an hour for the sale, but they could use that small profit to make labor cheaper. Wherever you sell legally you have to post your local poster, which has the number and address of treatment clinics, send someone round to check.

        It's really not that complicated. It's legal not for profit, with a salary cap, any other way, it's not... Slowly legal will replace illegal. Won't happen over night, but it's not exactly prohibition level difficulty. Incorporate the DEA into the IRS as forensic accountants going after the big boys.

        Don't collect numbers and addresses from customers... Everyone has dark patches in their life. Replace jail with rehab, replace fines with taxes, give poor people a really crappy, but legal way out of poverty, which shows them the dangers of drug addiction. This will never happen though, because drugs being illegal is just another form of control and public embarassment in the war chest of the politicians.
  • Jan 5 2012: Make treatment available, but ultimately, respect their choices.
    I live in city in the middle of the drug wars. When you combine huge cash flows with life and death type power, corruption will sure follow. Institutions, government, human spirit and society as a whole are greatly undermined. I am sympathetic for the suffering of the consumer and his or her family, but truth be told: they finance criminal organizations that undermine the very concept of civility in many parts of the world.
    In its current form, drugs are produced, exported, imported, distributed, cut once, redistributed, cut again and redistributed and recut six times, and sold at the retail level. All is done by criminal organizations that enforce their own rules by corruption and violence. By the measure of value added, the drug industry mostly happens within the borders of rich nations. A gram of xyz will cost twenty times more in the street of a mayor first world city compared to what was paid to the wholesaler on a third world nation. This means that the crime industry is mostly within the rich nations, but in their much bigger economies, the power of the criminals is diluted.
    Drugs are terrible, but the current setup where they are exported from countries like mine by criminals, and those criminals are paid by with guns and ammo is far worse. A marihuana hit is not good for your health, but no one forced it on you. A gram of lead out of the end of a gun will do far more damage to your health. Yet the guns remain legal. This is unacceptable. Americans think of countries like mine as full of criminals, yet gun factories are considered high tech reputable corporations.
  • Jan 7 2012: Let them know that they have the power WITHIN THEMSELVES to create happiness for themselves that is greater than the power of drugs to do that. If they use their own powers, they will ultimately have greater happiness then they can ever get from drugs. I think people who use drugs are accustomed to OUTSIDE CONTROLS over them, e.g., doctors, religions, parents, teachers. Shift the focus to the individual and increase her or his awareness of his or her own power over her or his own feelings, thoughts and experiences.
  • Jan 6 2012: I'm no expert, far from it, but it would not surprise me if pretty soon (the next 20 years or so) we start making progress on addiction as a treatable brain malfunction. Just recently I was reading about some milestone in treating severe depression with long-term embedded electronic brain stimulators, apparently it works. It wouldn't surprise me at all if we start doing similar things for addictions. So to answer your question, what I would do to addicts is give them the option of having a chip implanted in their skulls that helps fix the problem at the source. Obviously there are financial concerns, and you'd have to wait for an inevitable moment of regret to get them to sign the papers authorizing doctors to drill into their head, but in general I suspect that it's a decent approach.
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    Jan 5 2012: state and local policy/laws and education. Need to educate the peopl and convince the politicians first. There is such a stigma to drug use yet in most places (except yours?) alcohol is fine. There are parts of our society which expose us as extremeley ignorant. If alcohol was a new drug on the block, there would be no way they would legalise it. Far too dangerous. Oh well. Thanks for your thought provoking issue Ayesha. We will get there. I think the good old US of A is so crap in this area. Aussie too.
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      Jan 6 2012: Alcohol is fine in Dubai only if you are non muslim and only in hotels/registered users. But i think we don't really understand drugs as yet which is why we punish drug users so severely, we don't even have any private rehab centers! I would love to see the governments trying to understand addicts and their sickness instead of imagining that if they ignore them then they'll disappear.
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        Jan 8 2012: I'm curious, is marijuana/hashish harshly punished in Dubai? America prohibits sale, and consumption, but it's very loosely enforced, and the punishment is down to a small fine in most places. A bunch of states even have legal marijuana for medicinal purposes here. I've often heard that consumption of hashish, in a hookah, is many peoples addiction of choice in the middle east, over alcohol... I was just curious if that was entirely a stereotype, or if there was some truth to it.

        Personally, i'm for a public model for all addiction, but that one is the most important to me, simply because it is dangerous... It makes you lazy, hurts your lungs... It's a bad habit, but it's no worse than alcohol, or cigarettes for that matter, and lots of teenagers try it. In world where 20% of your teenagers are criminals, you've probably outlawed a few too many things, imho.
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    Jan 5 2012: I was the wife of an addict for 10 years. Did I know the extent of my husband's addiction when we began our adventure? Not a chance! I did everything in the book to try to get him to wake up to the fact that as he was destorying himself he was hurting me, but as with all addicts he didn't understand. He couldn't get beyond the idea that life existed outside of his addiction. It wasn't until we had a child five years in that I finally put my foot down and said things had to change. After a night that is forever burned into my mind I packed up me, my son, and we left.

    The thing about addiction is that you have to be willing to allow someone you love to hit rock bottom. You may believe they are at rock bottom, but you have no idea how low they can go. People with addiction spend their lives on the streets and in prision because they can't see beyond their fix. Even in prision all they think about is the party they're going to have when they're free.

    My husband spent a solid year in rehab, but what did he do when I let him back into our lives? He began drinking again, to the point where I had to decide - again - whether his behavior warranted leaving again or not. We left a second time...he went to rehab for another 6 months. But he still hadn't found his bottom.

    Legal/illegal? It doesn't make a difference to an addict.
    What should their punishment be if they get caught on the illegal side? Rehabilitation in an environment that is condusive to healing. Often the rehab centers addicts are referred to are much like the jails they could have gone to if it had been a violent crime. These rehab facilities are not "The Park" in Houston or Passages in Malibu, they are "Open Door Missions" and old hotels in the very neighborhoods they used to purchase the drugs in.

    Your family is brave. You are brave. Realize that you're not alone and that your family will one day find healing.
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    Jan 5 2012: i'm not sure making them pay financially is a solution. Its the having to pay that leads to a lot of the problems already.
    Legalize but of course provide rehab. People like drugs some become addicted, some can control the use (and i hope we are including alcohol here?)

    There are countiries who are having positive results through the legalisation where the money not being used on policing and incarceration is being diverted to rehab. We must firstly stop making users criminals. i think it is one of our worst mistakes. We judge so quickly.
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      Jan 5 2012: How do you think we can stop judging users on a global scale? I believe it would make a huge difference! just removing the label would make a tremendous difference.
  • Jan 5 2012: Drinking is harmful, yet you can drink in your own home or in a bar. As long as you do not mix alcohol and gasoline, you are clear. The same is true for smoking. I have suffered as my father and then my brother slowly consumed to death by smoking induced cancer. Yet you can smoke all you want, but not next to me indoors. With proper age restrictions, you can buy your booze and tobacco at regular stores. These are produced by legitimate enterprises such as Philip-Morris or British Tobacco. It is an issue of consenting adults.
    As long as drugs remain illegal, the will be produced, distributed and sold by criminals. The users are the victims that finance the murders. They must go underground where they can’t be treated.
    Drugs must be legalized and treated as a public health problem. Treating as a state security problem has proven to be ineffective. Jails are busting at the seams and most inmates are there for drug related crimes. These crimes are not only the ones related directly to the buying and selling, but also murder, robbery, attempted murder etc. Many addicts become felons to finance their own habit. Many felons diversify to other criminal rackets. Creating a system of huge profit incentives, and then trying to lock up those that follow the mirage of easy money is NOT working.
    Northern Europe is doing fine with legalized, yet highly restricted drug use. Amsterdam had a problem in the sixties since it was practically the only city in an entire continent that offered legalized drugs, so junkies from all Europe gathered there. Now that there are other places, they seem to be doing fine, and the addicts do not fall under the trap of the mafia and its criminal thugs. The victims do not become victimizers.
    Legalize drugs! Please!
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    Jan 5 2012: Coming from a family of addicts and being surrounded by such an element, there is not a doubt in my mind that addiction is a disease. It is a disease of the soul that has no boundaries and seeks to destroy everything around the one who is afflicted before taking the life of the afflicted themselves. One can even say that addiction closely resembles what some people view as demonic possession.

    These people are not criminals. They are merely sick people who have to commit criminal acts in order to get what they "need". They need help, not imprisonment
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      Jan 5 2012: They really are sick. I sincerely hope the world can understand this and help them instead of locking them up in places which kill them before their death.