The Victimless Myth

By Jim McVeagh 14/01/2010


There is a fair amount of news about drug addiction at the moment, with John Key announcing a (somewhat laughable) $7 million boost for P treatment. Garth George, in one of his best columns for some time, points out that the real killer in terms of drug addictions is, of course, alcohol. He laments the loss of the dedicated alcohol rehabilitation units, pointing out that the psycho-pathology of alcoholism is different from that of other drugs. While this is indeed true, there are many similarities, but I don’t dispute that alcoholics usually do better at dedicated facilities.

What I want to talk about here, however, is not the treatment of drug addiction per se, but the foolish drive to legalise drug use under that strange myth that drug addiction is a victimless crime. The argument seems to run that, apart from the occasional drug-crazed outburst, which is dealt with in the normal process of the law, most of the consequences fall upon the drug addict themselves. This is, unfortunately, an argument based on complete fantasy.

There are the obvious consequences to the drug-addicts families who lose a son/daughter/wife/husband/father/mother to the stuff. Both P and alcohol, and, to a less severe extent, cannabis, damage peoples ability to sustain relationships with others, sabotaging families and marriages. Are these relatives not victims of the drug? Or is the goal of libertarian freedom more important than these people?

Then there is the general social consequences of drug addiction. Neighbourhoods that no-one wants to live in, people too afraid to go out at night. They may not have received the direct consequences of being attacked by a P crazy (not a pleasant experience, I can tell you), but they are victims too. Victims of the general malaise of fear that haunts those neighbourhoods.

Then there is the long-suffering taxpayer, forced to foot the bill, not only for the treatment of drug addiction, but the incarceration of addicts and the supply of daily necessities (and more drugs) via the munificence of WINZ.

There may be a case for the legalisation of some drugs, notably cannabis, on the basis of acceptable use, but let us not have the nonsense that drug use is a victimless crime. We are all victims of its consequences, one way or another.

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