Addiction is a health issue, not a moral failing, and physicians need to champion public policy changes that put treatment first and reverse the “absurd” focus on the war against drugs, which has never and will never work, say editors of the BMJ. “All wars cause human rights violations and the war on drugs is no different,” write Fiona Godlee, MD, editor-in-chief, and Richard Hurley, features and debates editor of the BMJ.
The editorial was published online November 14 in the BMJ. Docs Can Make a Difference Criminals who control the supply of drugs are responsible for “appalling violence” that has resulted in 65,000 to 80,000 murders in Mexico alone during the past 10 years.
In the United States, putting drug users in prison for even minor offenses has led to the highest incarceration rates in the world, and thousands have been killed in the Philippines since President Rodrigo Duterte called for brutal vigilantism against those who deal drugs. They note that the war on drugs is costing society at least $100 billion annually, yet it has clearly failed to make a dent in either the supply or demand of illicit drugs or reduce addiction rates or harm.