John Cook is a well respected attorney in the Cape Girardeau community. However, I have some major disagreements with his op-ed piece last Thursday. He seems to be advocating a successful surrender to the war on drugs.
I agree that the war on drugs has been less than successful, but I strongly disagree that discontinuing these enforcement efforts would somehow be beneficial. Despite the fact the war has not been completely successful, there are many individual battles that have been won.
I have worked with drug and alcohol addicts for 30 years and have seen the devastation they, their parents, wives and children have experienced. I can assure Mr. Cook that any efforts to prevent the spread of this scourge are well worth it.
Through the years, a number of students who have come to Teen Challenge International of Mid-America have come to thank God for the policemen, judges and other officials who have sent them to jail because they realized that, were it not for their intervention, death would have been the result of their continued drug abuse. To cease fighting this blight on our society due to economic reasons or frustration would only exhibit a lack of conviction and courage as a nation.
Mr. Cook asserts, "We have no fewer drugs because of prohibition, just like we had no less alcohol during that period of prohibition." Neither Mr. Cook nor anyone else can know this to be true, because this country has never been without a prohibition on drugs. The illegal status of drugs is a deterrent to some, possibly preventing additional millions from falling into that trap.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the government agency that keeps such statistics, over 22 million Americans have used illicit drugs in the last 30 days. By legalizing these drugs, we would add to the number of people whose lives would be affected by them. Simply calling drugs legal does not diminish their negative impact on people's lives.
Additionally, it is questionable to call the legalization of alcohol an unqualified success since alcohol is the No. 1 drug of choice and the No. 1 addictive drug in America. Much of the domestic violence and violent crime in our country is alcohol-related, as well as tens of thousands of traffic deaths that occur every year.
On one point I strongly agree with Mr. Cook: There certainly should be more efforts made to provide true transformation of those bound by addictions. Organizations like Teen Challenge are doing their best to help these individuals break the bondage of addiction through faith in Christ. I would encourage concerned citizens to do their best to support these types of organizations, since the false barrier of separation of church and state prevents the government from fully doing so.
Legalization of drugs would open the door to further drug use by putting our societal stamp of approval on this behavior and would create a tsunami of addiction from which our nation might never recover. We may not seem to be winning the war on drugs, but, like any war against tyranny, it is simply a war we must continue to fight.
Dr. Jack Smart is the executive director of Teen Challenge International of Mid-America in Cape Girardeau.