Currently, many people seeking sober living in New Jersey through NJ detox centers have been encouraged through the country’s ‘fight against the opioid’ crisis, which has primarily taken place in moderately middle class range suburbs, often times predominantly ethnically white. However, the War On Drugs, which was proposed by the Nixon administration which he signed into law in 1971, was not only ill advised, but was used and continues to be used as an excuse to terrorize minority and poor neighborhoods.

During the 1980’s, there were two different and distinct messages coming out surrounding what essentially was the same drug in different forms; crack and cocaine. Although recently they were finally legislated to carry the same penalties, during the 1980’s, it was quite different.

The messages about cocaine use were sympathetic towards those addicted, encouraging them to find help, while the harsh criminal penalties incurred for crack treated people who had it or used it as potentially threatening and psychotic. Crack, being cheaper, was often found predominantly in lower class neighborhoods, which were where minority families would be found in greater numbers. All of this while happened while disregarding the drugs and their effects weren’t not much different from each other other than price and speed of which the effects could be felt by a user.

Minority communities who lived through this and remember it plainly see the hypocrisy in the ‘opioids crisis’.

For one, they see that crack is still heavily in circulation and still disproportionately tears minority neighborhoods apart at the core, primarily due to it’s cheap price and highly addictive properties, yet doesn’t have the attention that opioids do in the media. The situation creates a self sustaining cycle of generational damage to those communities which have yet to be addressed at large by policy makers and tax money. When put into contrast with the opioid epidemic, as it’s called, it only took 5-10 years for the entire country to begin talking about it, where the conversation about addiction has radically been altered to cater to the middle class which is largely finding out the hard way that addiction doesn’t discriminate as they once thought.

Throwing methamphetamine addiction into the mix, another ridiculously cheap drug which affects poorer neighborhoods, although does tend to affect more white neighborhoods, it becomes clear that policy and action seems to only come when it affects more affluent and stable white communities. While the positives of the conversation around addiction cannot be overstated, considering that the War On Drugs normalized the idea that drug abuse is always a choice of immoral people, a slight against those neighborhoods destroyed by crack, it still hasn’t come to grips with the larger picture of environmental factors and generational damage that occurs when addictive drugs take hold of a community.

Discovery InstituteWhile the tide is slowly shifting, it’s incredibly important at this time to remember that no addiction is the goal, not just protecting certain communities that never thought they would have to deal with the tragedies that are incurred from widespread substance use disorder. It’s time to stop the hypocrisy and address the entire problem rather than focusing on the most convenient for one group of people.

No matter the substance you or a loved one might have an addiction to, addiction treatment in New Jersey is available for you at Discovery Institute by calling 844-478-6563.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MDDr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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