A sure sign that one is dealing with the emotional plague is that you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. How this relates to the drug problem is that you are wrong if you legalize drugs and worse if you don’t. In the past authoritarian era, children and adolescents were more likely than not to listen to authority figures. Their rebelliousness was restrained by their muscular and character armor. Because of the destruction of the authoritarian family, children and adolescents in today’s society are often likely to act out their rebelliousness in a subversive manner with no regard to the destructive consequences on their lives, convinced they “know it all.” With no respected authority figure to listen to, they are in constant danger of becoming attracted to the drug culture.
Those in the drug culture, users and traffickers alike, are infected with an emotional disease, a socio-economically based medical condition that is in no way different from any other highly infectious and communicable disease. The drug problem cannot be viewed simply as a war against an external enemy. The tendency to use and profit from drugs, the “enemy,” resides and can erupt from within anyone, particularly young people. They are at risk because of their strong tendency to be rebellious, their need to “fit in” and for financial gain. Therefore, their problems must be addressed non-judgementally from the perspective of the medical epidemiologist as an endemic, emotionally based medical disease of sick human beings.
The drug problem is as much a problem of the families of addicts and the social institutions that are dealing with it as it is of the users and the traffickers. The first step in addressing the drug problem is to educate the public. The reason that people use street drugs, including marijuana, is to help stop experiencing their painful emotions and feelings and/or to replace them with pleasurable (euphoric) ones. Users must be treated with the knowledge that they are emotionally sick people that must rely on drugs for relief. Those who genuinely want help to face their painful feelings must be treated with this knowledge by skilled mental health professionals who are emotionally healthy themselves so that they do not fall into the trap of being judgmental. The public must be able to think functionally, not moralistically.
Hardened drug traffickers are highly destructive sick people who profit criminally from the emotional sickness of other sick humans. They must be sequestered in prison. From a functional perspective, prisons exist to sequester individuals from society who are unable to contain the expression of their secondary destructive drives from within. They therefore require external restraint (armor) in the form of incarceration.
Seeing the drug user as suffering from a medically based social illness not from a moral perspective as someone that requires to be punished, will help to remove its stigma. This view places the magnitude of the drug problem in proper perspective. It will be a long drawn out process of education and application of new knowledge on all social levels before this destructive manifestation of the emotional plague is reversed. (See “The War on Drugs: America’s Second Civil War” in my book, The Emotional Plague.)