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by David J. Ores, MD

As a medical doctor on the Lower East Side of New York City I have studied and treated many addiction disorders, including addiction to alcohol, nicotine, opiates and other substances. From everything I've seen and read, I've become convinced that a medical approach to drug addition would be 90% more effective than the "drug war" in beating the scourge that is destroying so many lives and communities.

Think about it: Why treat drug addicts differently than people addicted to alcohol, sex, gambling or nicotine? Drug-addicted patients, given pharmaceutical drugs, psychotherapy, job training — whatever is necessary to cure them — would not turn to robbery, prostitution and dealing to support their habits. Not only would millions of lives and dollars be saved, the street drug business would be destroyed.

If we had a national drug treatment policy financed at anywhere near the level of the current drug war, demand would collapse. Eventually, street dealers would have so few customers they'd have too little cash to pay off police, to hire fancy lawyers or to purchase guns, drugs and the services of hit men. The battalions of high-pressure salespersons seducing ever-younger children into the illegal street drug trade would be forced into early retirement. Deprived of its cash flow, the street drug business will wither and die.

Physicians!Medicine I implore you. Say aloud what you know to be true: People addicted to drugs are exactly like people addicted to anything else: They need care, not incarceration.

Whatever your professional capacity, Please. Wake up. Look around you. The notion that you can stop addicts from using illegal drugs by threatening them with prison simply does not work. Support a national, complete drug treatment program. It is our only chance to stop the insanity.

Related Links:
(1) The National Institute on Drug Abuse
In the U.S. the cost of crime attributable to drug abuse in 1992 was $18.4 billion, according to a conservative estimate by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

(2) The Office of National Drug Control Policy
Only $3 billion was spent on treating drug addiction, as opposed to over $11 billion spent on controlling illegal drug supply in 1999 according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

(3) Join Together Online
GII Award winning project of the Boston University School of Public Health that answers the need for easy access to accurate information about reducing substance abuse.

(4) How should we Frame the Issue of Illicit Drug Use?
For a hyperlinked survey of current debate on how we think about illegal drug addiction see "Criminal Justice Model v. Public Health Model," a PhD thesis by Ida Dupont.

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WHO IS: David J. Ores, MD Executive Producer of Medically Incorrect a local Manhattan cable show and website.

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