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09/07/2022

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Anthony Stewart

Stigmas effect all of us, and the stigmas attached to drug usage are negative ones. Rather than addressing the issue of addiction, and drug use, the governments policies create a situation where it is ok to stigmatize a whole group of addicted sick people as low-life individuals. Even if your only caught once with a felonious drug possession, which can be anything from heroin to THC oil. You will be subjected to forever punishment. For the rest of your entire life you are no longer trusted around money, medications, children, among other things. You are subjected to harsh treatment from law enforcement based upon the fact that you once, or currently had a substance abuse issue.


The drugs that are heavily stigmatized include any drug that could lead a felony conviction. This is true in the eyes of the employers, along with government courts. Although socially there is a difference, for example heroin consumption is much more heavily stigmatized than use of hashish. In my opinion, this is due to the addictive properties that lie within heroin. This is a tragedy, that should be addressed on a social level. As a person who was addicted to heroin for 7 years, I consider myself an expert on the matter. I lost everything, and eventually became homeless for years before I finally gave it up. In my opinion, I needed help like most people, unlike the treatment I received, which was just jail, and court fees. Thank you

Layla Johnson

I really like Shifman's point about, " Yet, according to Shifman, the current drug policies in the U.S. have been largely ineffective in reducing overdoses, preventing access to dangerous, fentanyl-laced street drugs, and reversing the racial disparity of those who are charged for drug crimes." This statement is very powerful because, the U.S. creates policies, but they are not enforced effectively, this causes only an increase in drug use and abuse. Yes, there may be improvements at times, however, that is not the case as of right now. Buddy T., an anonymous writer, states in his article, "Drug Use Rates in America
Statistics on Illicit Drug Use in the U.S.," that "7.3 million people aged 12 or older in the United States (13.6%) are "current users" of some kind of illicit drug." Not only is this bad because of the increase of rates but it's bad because it is children who partake in this drug abuse. This won't only ruin their lives, but it will ruin the very future of America because they ARE the future. At these rates, America's future will diminish, jurastically.

Daniel Gasparek

Shifman’s main topic is the stigma around drug-users and how the United States’ policy of treating all drug use as a severe crime is a tragedy and a misguided mistake. His point about how there are almost zero options for those suffering from overdosing in the U.S compared to in Europe really hit home for me, there is 1 option in all of America vs. over 200 in all of Europe. It is treated as a crime exclusively when there are people in desperate need for help, with no room for nuance due to its roots in systemic racism against non-white people using drugs. I agree fully with his stance about how treatment of drug users needs reform and those who are at risk of overdose need help, but I find myself disagreeing when it comes to his stances about more extreme and broadly illegal drugs and how even they can be used safely. His opinions on weed and other tamer drugs like psychedelics are valid, like when he said “Keep it out of the hands of kids and those about to handle heavy machinery, but otherwise let people live and, as our founding document promises, pursue happiness.” Let people live and help those who are at risk of throwing their life away seems like a better policy than the current black and white, “all people who use drugs are criminals” policy the U.S currently has.

Heiley Javier

According to Shifman, present drug regulations in the U.S. have been generally ineffectual in lowering overdoses, restricting access to risky, fentanyl-laced street narcotics, and reversing the racial inequality of those who are charged for drug - related offenses. Because the United States develops rules but they are not successfully implemented, this only leads to an increase in drug misuse and use, this remark has a lot of impact. Yes, occasionally there might be improvements, but at the moment, that is not the case. He discusses his own struggles with substance abuse, the distinctions between his use of cannabis and prescription drugs, and how misusing pills was very different than misusing marijuana. Bringing up the fact that you are no longer held accountable for your own acts and that you cannot be trusted with things like money or medications due to your history of substance misuse is also important. Any interaction with law enforcement will be important for you if you have a history of substance abuse since you will frequently be judged or even implicated due to your history even if you been sober for however many years.

heiley javier

According to Shifman, he presents drug regulations in the U.S. have been generally ineffectual in lowering overdoses, restricting access to risky, fentanyl-laced street narcotics, and reversing the racial inequality of those who are charged for drug - related offenses. Because the United States develops rules but they are not successfully implemented, this only leads to an increase in drug misuse, this remark has a lot of impact. Yes, occasionally there might be improvements, but at the moment, that is not the case. He discusses his own struggles with substance abuse, the distinctions between his use of cannabis and prescription drugs, and how misusing pills was very different than misusing marijuana.With that he brings up the fact that you are no longer held accountable for your own acts and that you cannot be trusted with things like money or medications due to your history of substance misuse.Any interaction with law enforcement will be important for you if you have a history of substance abuse since you will frequently be judged or even implicated due to your history even if you have been sober for however many years.

Hayley Torres

The struggles that drug abusers go through on a daily basis are interpreted completely wrong by our society nowadays and furthermore by the governmental system. The way that society views users only lowers the possibilities of any chances of recovery in their lives. What other people's judgment tends to do is damage their mental state more than it already is and pursue short term happiness rather than long term happiness. The government thinks that by setting punishments towards these people it’ll make them want to change their way of life but in reality when punishments are brought to those addicts, it takes away their possible motivation of bettering themselves and searching for help. Punishments would be considered as rehabilitation programs where abusers are mistreated because of their addiction or by the way they are labeled in society and viewed down as liars by federal authorities. As Shifman mentions, “stigma” is the word that is most used when talking about drug use and the treatment for abusers. The way I view this is that it could be changed in the way policies are made around the world in order to help those abusers.

L.M. Fusco

Shifman’s approach to bridge the gap between misinformation, and misunderstanding would create an inclusive environment where conversations about reframing how we perceive the war on drugs could expand into conversations about the sub-wars that contribute to the drug-user death toll. Even, the conscious choice to chose “user”, over “abuser” can help slow judgement. Users can be blamed for the war. Drug policies seem to be ineffective from what Shifman describes as unchanging-profit mill. The power to make the issue as important, and comprehensible as other issues like gender inequality, trans-lives-mattering, black lives mattering, and other press matters would create the needing understanding, that would result in changes made that would prevent harm. I agree with Shifman. It is about understanding what we are looking at. Issues with heroin users, for example are provided methadone to get off heroin—however, studies have shown that drugs like methadone are just as toxic, and can continue the drug addiction. We live in a culture that needs drug users to profit from their habits. A drug user’s habits run drug companies, and Big Pharma. The need for an epidemic is one of our many crises—that is perpetuated, and to Shifman’s point is under looked, or not considered deeper than another drug addicts’ issue. The attitude towards drug culture disregards, dehumanizes, and reduces the user to a statistic. Often times, it is not until someone losses a loved one to an overdose does the war on drugs become relevant, and reevaluated as an epidemic that involves someone who does not use drugs. This war affects us all— regardless if we have been personally affected by the outcome. The higher the numbers the most likely it will come, and affect each of us in some way—that will cause us, to look through a compassionate, and thoughtful lens at the root of drug culture.

K. Bertram

John Shifman main points being the draconian policy that the US creates alongside the stigma that follows with users of drugs. That stigma being the demonization of users considering them to be criminal instead of sick. This point was made by Shifman hit the nail right on the head when talking about the US drug policy and society’s perception of drugs. The US drug policy is still based off the 80s where we had failed programs such as D.A.R.E and Nancey Regan going on TV saying, “just say no”. The government and US society doesn’t look at people suffering with addiction as people who are sick, they look at these people are criminals, people who are dangerous and cannot be trusted with anything. You didn’t commit a crime, you put a substance into your own body, yet you get put into the same place as people who harmed their fellow man. Instead of trying to rehabilitate and help these people who are struggling every day with one of the most difficult and hard to deal with internal conflicts one can have, they demonize them and punish them, which doesn’t stop the use of it. The reality is that the only thing that these policies have done is make people struggling with addiction feel like there’s no way out, isolating them, making them feel as if society has turned its back on them, which makes the problem worse. Shifman mentions a stat, across 15 countries, there are 200+ overdose prevention centers, the United States has one. What people in power of free democratic countries fail to realize is that if the general population wants something that the government considers illegal bad enough, they will get it. Gun laws are passed yet illegal guns are still bought, illegal car mods are illegal, yet people will mod their car. Regardless of whatever laws are in place, if people want it people can get it. By keeping it illegal the production of these drugs takes place with no regulation or safety measures, one pill could be real and the next pressed with fentanyl. By simply looking at this problem from a different angle one sees a clean-cut solution. The government and society need to realize that no matter how much policy or demonization happens regarding drugs, there will always be a market for it, just like cigarettes, just like alcohol and that the rate of overdose will never be 0. Legalize the drug, and produce it here, allowing it to only be administered to people over the age of 21 and in an overdose facility. This takes away a large amount of the illegal market which reduces the number of fake pills in the market, as well as being taxable from which the government can profit. Just the week an estimated 1 million dollars’ worth of fentanyl pressed pills were taken from two men in JFK airport hotel in queens this week. The district attorney of Queens County in New York City said that fentanyl has accounted for 76% of all drugs overdoses this year. The fentanyl is the problem and other substances which are used in similar way such as k2 or vitamin C extract. You can’t stop the product at its source by stopping production, because these drugs aren’t created here, they are produced by various cartels and other criminal enterprises, and yes while there is illegal drug production in the US it is miniscule compared to how much is produced outside the country then brought in. This is a very controversial topic being discussed and you may feel differently. But if people want the drugs they will get the drugs, no matter how illegal you make them.

Kevin Bertram

That stigma being the demonization of users considering them to be criminal instead of sick. This point was made by Shifman hit the nail right on the head when talking about the US drug policy and society’s perception of drugs. The US drug policy is still based off the 80s where we had failed programs such as D.A.R.E and Nancey Regan going on TV saying, “just say no”. The government and US society doesn’t look at people suffering with addiction as people who are sick, they look at these people are criminals, people who are dangerous and cannot be trusted with anything. Instead of trying to rehabilitate and help these people who are struggling every day with one of the most difficult and hard to deal with internal conflicts one can have, they demonize them and punish them, which doesn’t stop the use of it. The reality is that the only thing that these policies have done is make people struggling with addiction feel like there’s no way out, isolating them, making them feel as if society has turned its back on them, which makes the problem worse. Shifman mentions a stat, across 15 countries, there are 200+ overdose prevention centers, the United States has one. The government and society need to realize that no matter how much policy or demonization happens regarding drugs, there will always be a market for it and that the rate of overdose will never be 0. Legalize the drug, and produce it here, allowing it to only be administered to people over the age of 21 and in an overdose facility. This takes away a large amount of the illegal market which reduces the number of fake pills in the market, as well as being taxable from which the government can profit. Just the week an estimated 1 million dollars’ worth of fentanyl pressed pills were taken from two men in JFK airport hotel in queens this week. The district attorney of Queens County in New York City said that fentanyl has accounted for 76% of all drugs overdoses this year. The fentanyl is the problem and other substances which are used in similar way such as k2 or vitamin C extract. People will always do the drugs so there is no point in trying to stop it, but you can control how and where they do it as well as where they get it from.

Steven L

Jay Shifman has many statements i agreed with but if there could be more added then I wish he would've brought up the fact that in many cases of drug overdoses it all starts because of the fact that the individual needed to use the substance to cope with for so long that his/her body has to depend on it leading to that overdose once they take too much. Also to mention people also can pass away due to withdrawals and that also is due to addiction. I also would like to mention how he brings up his addiction to weed and pills but there are also more addicting drugs that are more common in areas depending where the individual lives and to see that every day around the neighborhood, it makes it very difficult to stay away from it.

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