As a mental health professional, I work as a primary therapist in a drug and alcohol recovery center in Van Nuys. Most of the opinions I've read or heard in the media regarding drug addiction display a discouraging lack of knowledge and/or experience in this area and, unfortunately, that includes government spokespersons who are paid to provide workable ideas and solutions.
I just finished reading a Times column on how to deal with the drug problem in this country, voiced by David Glidden ("Legalizing Dope: a Life-Threatening Idea," Opinion, July 24). While Glidden at least acknowledges some of the realities of drug addiction, he doesn't seem to be able to apply the facts to the problem. This is no surprise. This country has been in denial for years about the reality of this disease.
For three-quarters of a century, we have been trying the same failed strategies over and over again, expecting different results: prohibit drugs; throw the druggies in jail; interdict drugs at the borders. But failure to learn from past mistakes is a manifestation of the denial which is a primary symptom of addiction itself. This country continues to behave like an addict in its efforts to make the problem go away. Like an addict, we point to other segments of society: the ghettos, the gangs, the dealers, and we blame them. Like an addict, we point to those outside our society: Mexico, Colombia, Bolivia, and we blame them. The fact is that, as a society, we promote one of the most toxic of all drugs, alcohol, and we refuse to deal in any realistic way with the drug problem, which is our problem, and no one else's.