Submitted by Charles Knighton
The August 26 article “Drug courts or drug treatment centers” hopefully signals the tectonic plates of the drug debate are shifting. Perhaps the appetite for spending millions and incarcerating thousands, in the service of pieties immune to rational analysis, is not limitless after all. Exhaustion is finally setting in with the enormous human and fiscal costs of attempting to eradicate the ineradicable. People have always used intoxicants, and always will, in ways ancient and new. The Bible tells us that no sooner had Noah planted a vineyard than “he drank of the wine, and was drunken.” We seem to be exiting the era when a focus on the harmful effects of illegal drugs excludes all consideration of the harmful effects of their hard-fisted prohibitions. The debate is becoming less susceptible to cheap rhetorical bullying.
Though tantamount to crying out in the wilderness, one final thought. In our censorious public discussions about substance abuse, drinking often gets a pass. But alcohol abuse kills far more people than powders, tablets, and vials. According to a recent survey, about 40 percent of the adult population of Barbados is either addicted to alcohol or binge drinks dangerously. Booze seeds and squires a broad range of diseases, from cirrhosis to various forms of cancer, and contributes to many deaths from shootings, stabbings, falls and drunk driving. Just as with other classes of drugs, prohibition would prove ineffective, but if we’re going to discuss the drug problem in Barbados with any honesty, then we shouldn’t edit drinking out of the picture.