Denver Drug Problem



Since the end of World War II, almost every president has declared a war on illegal drug use. The efforts against drugs that are currently used, got their start from a series of laws passed during the Nixon administration’s “War on Drugs”. Many programs have been established including Nancy Regan’s “Just Say No” campaign which was started in 1983. George Bush, later provided the DEA with its largest federal funding increase ever, raising the DEA’s budget to more than $18 billion. The War on Drugs has continued in the 1990s with a larger focus on the strict enforcment of U.S drug laws. However, the increased enforcement of U.S. drug laws has led to prison overcrowding and a change from the smugling of illegal substances to a local production of cheap, highly potent substances such as crack, cocaine, and methamphetamine. While when compared to foreign countries, the United States appears to be doing a good job in combating illegal drug use, it is very clear that the drug policies used during the past three decades have failed remarkably to meet their stated objectives. Limited drops in usage levels (rising levels in Denver), failure to reduce violent crime related to drug use, failure to reduce importation of ilegal substances, faliure to reduce availability of illegal drugs, the expenditure of great amounts of money and limited public resources, and failure to provide meaningful treatment for current substance abusers, are all evidence that in fact the “War on Drugs” has been a non-sucessful program up until this point.
In the city of Denver, the FBI denver devision has joined forces with local agencies which include the Denver Police Department, U.S. Customs service, Immigtration and Naturalization Service, and the DEA to impliment various progams including both educational and enfocement policies. Mentorship for youth, Youth leadership, Parental and family education, community orgainizaition projectsProfessional and peer intervention such as the use of psychologists, Regional Prevention Specialists offering consultaton and technical assistance in the deveolpment of community prevention programs, and DUI prevention are among the list of things being done to combat the drug problem.
The Office of Safe & Drug Free Schools & Communities (OSDFSC) and the Regional Alcohol and Drug abuse resources program (RADAR), are local groups that were started in order to provide programs and services to assist schools with:
· Substance use and abuse prevention education,
· Violence prevention education,
· Promoting school safety, and
· Creating a disciplined learning environment.
The offices’ approachs which are geared twoards preventative educaton, are representative of Denver’s focus on drug education. It is the offices’ beliefs that by educating students at an early age about the harmful effects of drugs on themselves and those around them, a long-term solution to the drug problem may be in grasp. This method of education rather than law enforcement measures being used has recently become the standard in many major cities including Denver
In Denver’s public schools, Project Alert is being used “to provide students the motivation, skills, and practice to resist the gateway drugs: alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and includes a lesson on inhalant abuse.” The program currently requires middle school students to go through fourteen lessons that attempt to educate students about the harmful affects of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. The program’s main effort is to build resilance in youth. "Resiliency is the experience of encountering life\'s adversities and challenges, being disrupted, but then not only recovering from the adversity, but surfacing from the experience with strength, confidence, happiness, self-esteem, and skills." (Glenn Richardson). As many other elementary schools, high-schools, and colleges across the nation have done, the city of Denver and the Denver Public School System has adopted a “no-tolerance” policy, in which a student found guilty of drug use or possession is subject to immediate suspension or expulsion. This policy is designed to detour youth from using drugs basically by means of intimidation. This method has never worked with any crime so why would it work with drugs? The penalty for murder in Texas is death, yet murders still occur there everyday. The goal of any drug policy should be to lower the prevalence and spread of harmful drug use and substance abuse, and to minimize the harms associated with such problems where they are found to exist. A no tolerance policy clearly does not