The "war against drugs" is big news again and the weapons proposed to fight it are education and law enforcement, including the military. If drug dealing and drug use are an indigenous guerrilla war with highly paid external suppliers, then fighting it as we have must ultimately fail.
We can win the war against drugs if we field our best armies-- science and technology.
For the first time in history we are in the position to solve the problem of addiction and to develop effective agents to eliminate the biologically determined drug cravings that permanently victimize the user.
To scientists the problem of addiction is closely akin to the questions of how brain cells are changed permanently during learning and how various tissues differentiate into their final form during development. Similar irreversible chemical changes occur in cells during addiction to drugs.
Exciting progress is being made in the fields of the neurosciences and the biology of development. There is steady progress in the molecular biology of addiction. If we make an intense national commitment, in 10 to 15 years we should be able to identify the mechanisms underlying each of the principal addictions and create treatments whereby they can be reversed. We will be able both to stop drug use and to eliminate the cravings that so often cause recidivism.