Each night, network news programs in America turn their focus on the war in Iraq. Yet, routinely, the national news media ignore another war that’s been going on now for more than 30 years — the war on drugs.
By all indications, we continue to lose this hidden war. And frankly, there are a number of people in the news media and in Hollywood who are actually rooting for the other side. They’re the individuals who believe that there is no danger in a 13-year-old smoking pot when he should be in school…a twenty-eight-year-old mother smoking crack…or a 60-year-old ex-hippie who’s addicted to heroin.
According to the federal government’s household survey on drug use, which is conducted each year, 12.7 million people have used some kind of illegal drug in the last month. As many as 30 to 40 million people have used an illegal drug within the past year. Of those who use drugs at least monthly, 10 million are assumed to be "casual" users, while 2.7 million are addicts. But who’s to say that today’s casual user won’t become tomorrow’s addict? And can’t even casual drug use destroy marriages, decimate families, and ruin lives?
In 1996, the national drug war suffered a serious setback when 56 percent of California voters cast ballots in favor of legalizing the growing and use of marijuana for so-called "medical purposes." This is all part of an overall strategy to make drug use more acceptable to the general public.
A shocking report by the Government Accountability Office released just last month showed quite clearly the scope of the problem. The report indicated that more than 50 government agencies are working on trying to combat illegal drug use in the U.S., yet they are having little effect on the overall production and consumption of illegal drugs.
Those who are looking to the federal government to single-handedly solve the problem of illegal drug use have to be demoralized at this point. The fact is, after three decades, the feds are no closer to eradicating narcotics use than they were at the beginning. If we truly care about protecting our children from the scourge of drug abuse, we need to act locally.
It all begins with the family. Believe it or not, children do listen to what their parents have to say — and they follow their parents’ example. Any parent who uses illegal drugs is doing a disservice to his or her children. If children receive a strong anti-drug message at home, they are far less likely to experiment once they leave home. Also, a strong, two-parent family who regularly goes to church may be the best defense against drug abuse. Children turn to drugs as an escape in order to avoid the troubles in their lives. They are far better able to cope when they have both a Mom and a Dad around whom they can depend on.
Churches can also be a powerful weapon in the war on drugs. It has been shown that people of faith are less likely to turn to drugs in an effort to fulfill their inner-longings. By offering hope — not only to the child who’s never tested drugs but also to the addict who’s trying to kick the habit, churches can help to rescue our culture from a drugged-out fate.
As a last line of defense, we should look to the schools in our communities — both public and private. They have a vested interest in keeping their student body drug-free. Schools must re-double their drug education efforts. After all, the media routinely spout a pro-drug line — it is up to teachers and principals to counteract the myths with the truth. We can beat drugs — but we have to do it house-by-house, neighborhood-by-neighborhood. We cannot afford to lose another generation to the traumatic cycle of drugs and violence.