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Canadians at Ground Zero
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Freedom Magazine, published by the Church of Scientology

The Drug Problem How It CAN be Solved

While solutions for dependency are essential, an equally important aspect of solving the drug problem in the long-term view is effective drug education and prevention.

Al Buttnor
Al Buttnor, Public Affairs, Church of Scientology

review of Canada’s major press today finds little mention of good news about effective, long-term solutions to drug abuse. What is seen instead are editorials and articles promoting the decriminalization of currently illegal drugs or taxpayer subsidized drug maintenance programs as the panaceas for all drug problems in our society. There is no longer any real talk of drug prevention, education or even recovery for the individual suffering from dependency despite the fact workable solutions do exist.

Clearly, drug use is about big money. Be it illegal or legal drugs, it is big business for the providers. The more people can be shunted over to legal drugs, for instance, the more money can be made and so drug maintenance programs proliferate. The very idea of looking for effective methods to minimize drug use and rehabilitate users seems to have been all but lost.

Decriminalizing drug use and substituting, as “treatment,” a dangerous legal and addictive drug such as methadone for a dangerous addictive illegal drug such as heroin keeps the system rolling. The recent announcement by the National Institute on Drug Abuse in the United States that more substitute drugs are on the way for cocaine and other street drugs should surprise no one. That the Centre for Mental Health and Addiction in Toronto obtains grants and monies from major pharmaceutical firms is hardly less surprising.

Many seem to have forgotten history’s lessons of opium.

During the 1850s, when trade with the Orient opened up, opium addiction became an epidemic in the United States. Addicts were weaned off the drug using a “non-addictive” substitute—morphine. Morphine, of course, soon became a bigger problem than opium addiction. Morphine addiction, in turn, was treated with the “non-addictive” substitute of heroin, first manufactured in 1898 by the Bayer pharmaceutical company in Germany. Heroin was even more addictive and destructive than morphine; in 1920 all opium products were outlawed in the U.S. The next “non-addictive” substance on the chain, a substitute for heroin, was developed in Germany in the 1940s and named “Adolphine” in honor of Hitler—and later renamed methadone. The drug proved even more addictive than heroin.

The individual drug user is the victim of this callous system. In 1996 when the Province of Ontario, in taking over the methadone treatment program from the federal government, increased availability of methadone treatment for heroin users, the number of methadone related deaths increased by seven times although heroin related deaths, which methadone is meant to treat, remained fairly constant.

Kid doing drugs and pills

Between 60 and 70 people were dying annually in Toronto from heroin overdoses yet, by 1998, methadone related deaths had risen from 9 to 64. Fifty-five more people were unlamentedly dead! The Globe and Mail reported without irony “in a sense, the deaths are a trade-off, since wide availability of methadone clearly saves lives as well.” The situation doesn’t seem “clear” at all and statistics on these deaths have not been released since 1999.

Another strong sign of the absurdity of the current situation is a comparison with how we deal with cigarettes and smokers in this country. Drug users are now commonly characterized as victims of their addiction whereas smokers are pariahs which must be segregated and punished for their habit. Catch a smoker in a downtown building in a major city in Canada and they may be fined up to $5,000. Ironically, no marijuana user, despite the drug being illegal, is liable for such a fine.

While it is commonplace to find smokers standing out shivering in Canadian winters because their buildings do not provide facilities for them, government leaders are now considering, at vast taxpayer expense, building “shooting galleries” or “safe houses” where individuals can take addictive, illegal drugs, possibly again provided by the taxpayer.

Current events in British Columbia with marijuana provide a good example of what this relaxed and accommodating attitude towards drug use—in the absence of sound education and prevention strategies—bodes for Canadians and their families: increased drug availability and abuse.

Marijuana alone is now estimated to be a $6 billion industry in British Columbia. Vancouver has earned the epithet of Vansterdam, the “Amsterdam of the West” for its public availability of drugs and attraction of drug tourists from around the world.

The basic problem is that drug use and abuse are simply not good for an individual regardless of legalities. When one becomes dependent on a drug, whether legal or illegal, the long-term prognosis for a happy and successful life diminishes.

Few disagree that drugs are a barrier to widespread social progress. They harm and hinder physical and mental health, debilitate our communities, cause billions in loss of productivity, and cause untold grief and distress for families.

Isn’t saving our children and loved ones from drug dependence worth some effort in awareness, education and, ultimately, effective treatment if necessary?

Apathetic and defeatist statements that drugs are a “way of life” and “inevitable” are as untrue as they are one of the most destructive elements of the current drug problem.

The drug problem can be solved, as proven every day in the Scientologist community. A recent survey of 100 members of the Scientology community found that while 45% of individuals had taken street drugs prior to church membership, 100% are now drug-free.

This remarkable figure is a direct result of the application of Scientology founder and humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard’s discoveries about drugs. He developed workable solutions to the problem, including the Purification Program—a regimen of exercise, sauna and nutrition that was “developed to assist in releasing and flushing out of the body the accumulated toxic residues which may be lodged in the tissues, while also rebuilding the impaired tissues and cells.”

The entire program is outlined in the book Clear Body, Clear Mind and is available to anyone regardless of religious background.

Mr. Hubbard’s developments in handling drugs are also the components of the secular and independent Narconon drug rehabilitation system.

While solutions for dependency are essential, an equally important aspect of solving the drug problem in the long-term view is effective drug education and prevention.

Programs which inform youth about drugs and encourage them to never begin their use have all but disappeared from the schools, and more community initiatives are needed. Various youth groups and churches have such programs. Among the most visible is the Church of Scientology’s “Drug Free Marshals” youth drug awareness campaign, started in Canada in 1995 (see related story).

The bottom line is that there are workable solutions to the drug problem and there is good news for Canadians on this front. By combining the resources of workable initiatives, there is every reason for optimism that the drug problem CAN be solved.

For information contact the Office of Public Affairs, Church of Scientology of Toronto, 696 Yonge St., Toronto, Ontario M4Y 2A7 416-925-1779

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