The War on Drugs – It’s Not Working

The War on Drugs as we know it, today, “officially” began in 1973 when with passage of New York’s strict sentencing guidelines “known as the ‘Rockefeller drug laws’ — after their champion, Gov. Nelson Rockefeller — that put even low-level criminals behind bars for decades,” according to Brian Mann’s NPR story, today, “The Drug Laws That Changed How We Punish.” Until this sudden, about-face, Governor Rockefeller had been “a champion of drug rehabilitation, job training and housing” as the answer to drug-related crime. “He saw drugs as a social problem, not a criminal one,” says Mann.

So why the Directional Shift in Governor Rockefeller’s War on Drugs?

So what happened to change the Governor’s mind? And how did the “Rockefeller Drug Laws” so radically change our sentencing laws. How successful have these laws been in the war on drugs?

For the print copy of Brian Mann’s story, click here.

For a podcast of the story, click here. Just 7 minutes and 47 seconds long – it goes a long way to helping us understand the history and from there opening our minds to what we should / could be doing instead.

Lisa Frederiksen

Lisa Frederiksen

Author | Speaker | Consultant | Founder at
Lisa is the author of nine books, including "If You Loved Me, You'd Stop!", and is a national keynote speaker, consultant and founder of She has spent more than 12 years researching, writing, speaking and consulting on substance misuse prevention, intervention and treatment; mental illness; addiction as a brain disease; effective co-occurring disorders' treatment; secondhand drinking | drugging; help for the family and related subjects – all centered around 21st century brain and addiction-related research. In 2015, she founded SHD Prevention, providing training and consulting to companies, public agencies, unions, nonprofits and other entities to address the workplace impacts of employee secondhand drinking and alcohol misuse.

4 Responses to The War on Drugs – It’s Not Working

  1. momcat says:

    Insanity! I remember the ‘war on drugs’ well. I was a 1973 high school graduate and drugs were free and easy . . . too many kids went to prison.

    • I remember those days, as well – so crazy and now that we know it doesn’t work – that it’s a brain disease and that the key risk factors for developing the disease can be addressed | prevented | interrupted… – we have the science to rethink this and do it a different way. Let’s hope we’re on that path, FINALLY!

  2. Bev says:

    Today there are more and more voices on the internet, educating others about addiction, giving support to both the addict and families and refuge from the ignorance of stigma. Where do we go from here? How can the average person support change? Do we need a campaign like breast cancer to make that change? It still makes me cringe hearing the word ‘drunk’. I relate it to hearing a person with down syndrome being called ‘dummy’. Of course that doesn’t happen any more because society has become educated about down syndrome. What can we do to educate the public about addiction? How long will it take to make the word ‘drunk’ unacceptable?

    slawoszewski (at)

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