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The so-called war against drugs has been an ongoing struggle to determine the best course of treatment for abuse and how to legally address the epidemic of high drug use across the country. However, a new call by parents of a rising number of heroin users suggests a kinder approach to the drug war compared to the aggressive stances against Black users.

The New York Times examined the startling rise in heroin use among White people in America, a stark contrast to times past where the crack era of the 1980s saw a focus on Black and poor people. As the heroin use trend rises among white, middle-class youth, parents of these users have banded together to lobby Congress and organizations in addressing the issue.

From the Times:

When the nation’s long-running war against drugs was defined by the crack epidemic and based in poor, predominantly black urban areas, the public response was defined by zero tolerance and stiff prison sentences. But today’s heroin crisis is different. While heroin use has climbed among all demographic groups, it has skyrocketed among whites; nearly 90 percent of those who tried heroin for the first time in the last decade were white.

And the growing army of families of those lost to heroin — many of them in the suburbs and small towns — are now using their influence, anger and grief to cushion the country’s approach to drugs, from altering the language around addiction to prodding government to treat it not as a crime, but as a disease.

“Because the demographic of people affected are more white, more middle class, these are parents who are empowered,” said Michael Botticelli, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, better known as the nation’s drug czar. “They know how to call a legislator, they know how to get angry with their insurance company, they know how to advocate. They have been so instrumental in changing the conversation.”

Mr. Botticelli’s comments regarding the galvanized efforts of white parents spoke to a larger issue. While it is true that these parents probably are better equipped to gather their resources, the lack of support that communities of color received in comparison is embarrassing to say the least.

Coupled with the fact that President Barack Obama recent visit to West Virginia in support of a $133 proposal aimed at bolstering drug treatment programs and facilities, this renewed interest in combating drug use systematically might seen as a slap in the face to some advocates on the issue.

Photo: Public Domain

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