Our expert says:
Not certain if I can comment on the death penalty as such - that is a very contentious debate in itself.
The frightening complexity of all these issues has led many to seek a solution to the problem, either by increasing aggressive enforcement and punishment or by simply legalising the whole affair. Opposing camps form around these two extremes and debate is reduced to polemics, with each side talking past the other. This sort of reductionism fails to recognise that one size does not fit all. The appropriate strategy depends on current local circumstances. It may be that a ruthless dependency producing drug such as heroin is simply too readily available and too greatly in demand for prohibition strategies to have any positive impact at all.
When drug use can be prevented, every effort should be made to stop the problem before it starts. Where it cannot, creative means of dealing with the risks should be sought. The paradigm case of failed prohibition is ‘Prohibition’ itself - the banning of alcohol in the United States during the early years of the last century. It is clear that this experiment in social engineering did nothing to limit the use of the drug and may have, in fact, heightened its popularity. It also formed the basis on which many organised crime syndicates, such as the American Mafia, built their early fortunes. Early prohibition is arguably the source of America’s current drug problems, because it provided finance and experience to the same networks that are pushing heroin today. If nothing else, it offered glamorous role models for the current crop of aspiring gangsters and smugglers
Prohibition and reduction of supply go hand in hand. In countries where controlling the supply of substances is impossible, prohibition does not make much sense. While most will concede that, unless one is speaking of Singapore, completely eliminating illicit drugs is impossible, prohibitionists hope that limiting the supply will slow the spread of the drug, prevent the growth of demand, and eventually push the price up to the point at which only the most dedicated dependents can afford to get high. The question of any given society must be: is this strategy workable in the present circumstances?
Generally speaking, t is an imperative that law-enforcement action be followed by an integrated programme of psychological, social and pharmacological outreach. These programmes will have to be expanded to address new demands and will need to include specialised skills training. Many interventions and procedures have begun to be integrated routinely into clinical practice. On a practical level, perhaps you can contact your nearest SANCA branch can find out from them what prevention/intervention programmes they offer in your community.
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