40th anniversary of the "War on Drugs." Did we lose?

By: Kate Burgess Email
By: Kate Burgess Email

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT)--40 years ago this week, President Richard Nixon declared war on drugs. Trillions of dollars later, most Americans would agree: We're losing. A report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy says just that. According to officials in our area, the number one problem isn't cocaine or heroin, but prescription pills.

No matter who you ask, the answer is the same: "the use and prevalence of narcotics is the bane of all law enforcement. Particularly now with the use of prescription drugs," said Knox County District Attorney General, Randy Nichols.

Karen Pershing at the Metropolitan Drug Commission agreed, "If they're not used the way they're prescribed, or for the person they're prescribed, they're just as dangerous, if not more dangerous than an illegal drug."

But that hasn't stopped hundreds of thousands of people from abusing pills. "They've got the impression that these are safe because they're made by some giant drug manufacturer."

Nichols said after 40 years of "war," the drug problem in this country is only getting worse. "We're going into half a century now of trying to deal with this and the truth is we've not done a very good job."

Government crackdowns, jail time, nothing seems to work. "Either they end up in jail, they end up in an institution, or they end up in the grave."

Thomas Dean knows firsthand the pain of drug addiction. He spent a year and a half in a cocaine induced fog. "It was a real dark time," he said.

A darkness he managed to climb out of only after hitting bottom. "I was spiritually, physically and emotionally bankrupt in a year and a half's time."

Now he works as a case manager with the Knox Area Rescue Ministries. He says the drug problem in America is not one the government can solve. "The individual has to reach a point where they're sick and tired of being sick and tired."


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by jan Location: California on Jun 15, 2011 at 03:42 PM
    U.S. Encouraged Gun Sales to Drug Cartels, 70% of Seized Mexico Guns Are from U.S. But somehow, the US ONLY blames Mexico?!
  • by Ronald Location: Corryton on Jun 15, 2011 at 02:54 PM
    First, clean your law enforcement up, including attorneys and judges; make them take random unannounced drug test. Second, clean your educational system up; make the teachers and staff, including colleges and universities, take random unannounced drug test. Where there is a suspect wade in on them not waiting so long and not slap them on the hand in court, but let them serve some hard time including law enforcement, educators, politicans, judges, and all alike. Use some of the old WW-II ways "when on duty shoot to kill and ask questions later".

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