As a society, we are successfully addressing drug use and its consequences. In the past 20 years, drug use in the United States decreased by half and casual cocaine use by 70%. Drug-related murders and spending on drugs decreased by more than 30% as the illegal drug market shrunk.
Still, we are faced with many challenges, including educating a new generation of children who may have little experience with the negative consequences of drug abuse, increasing access to treatment for 4 million addicted Americans and breaking the cycle of drugs and crime that has caused a massive increase in the number of people incarcerated. We need prevention programs, treatment and alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent drug offenders. Drug legalization is not a viable policy alternative because excusing harmful practices only encourages them.