Scare tactics on drug users to protect the future

Criminal Justice

Scare tactics and drug abuse

Over the last few decades, there has been use of scare tactics on the drug users in order for organizations to try and keep the younger generations from engaging in the drug use habit. There was use of all kinds of media to communicate this and even movies like Reefer Madness that was released in 1930s and re-released in 1970s depicted several exaggerated and tragic scenes that befell high school students who used marijuana (Sara B., 2012). In the 1980s and 1990s with the clarion call of Just Say No being the top call on drugs, there were other scare tactics that were predominantly used like the frying of an egg to simulate the brain being charred by the drugs that the youth use. These were intended to scare away the young children and youth from engaging in the use of drugs. Even to date, there are still graphic images that are used by the PSAs in their adverts targeted at reduction of the drug use habit among the youth and graphic depiction of the consequences of drug abuse.

The scare tactics attempt .to use the fear aspect of the human psychology to motivate change. Most scare tactics are not formatted to cause harm or damage to any person but simply to play about with the sense of security of the individual, a feature that is innate in each person. They are meant to inflict the maximum possible psychological pressure on the recipient in order to shape behavior and response. The scare tactics therefore create fear through tabling a behavior, say drug abuse, and the severe physical and emotional injuries that it has, then it is followed by specific recommendations of what to do to escape such injury, which in this case is to keep off the drugs.

After several studies on the effectiveness of the use of these scare tactics, there were mixed findings noted among the target groups. There were mixed conclusion on whether the scare tactics worked or not and this widely depended on the perception of the individual teen and how much they care for their safety. Some youth would show commitment or re-commitment to their safety yet others would just ignore the entire message.

The scare tactic cannot be wished away and be declared inapplicable. When it comes to mass motivation, at times the straight facts are not good enough to change the mentality. There is need to use the frightening statistics as well as the alarming facts about drug use. This is the entire purpose of the scare tactics that use manipulative words and actions that create sense of fear. The danger with this is that some people may make irrational decisions due to outright fear.

One of the most known scare tactic used in drug abuse restrain is the crack baby campaign. This is usually aimed at encouraging the mother to keep off drugs while pregnant as the intake of drugs can have possible serious repercussions on the baby including the compromise the intelligence level of the child when he grows up or even predisposing him to criminal tendencies (Maia S., 2013).

However, there have been extensive research carried out on thousands of children brought forth by the drug addict mothers who continued using drugs during pregnancy and there was no tangible evidence to link drug abuse to the feared consequences on the newborns. Maia further .indicates that the only significant issue that was found was that Cocaine, like cigarette smoking predisposed the mothers to still births, early births, miscarriages and low birth weight. This was the significant thing and not the effects overblown after birth. Indeed the danger with this scare tactic is that it compromised the way the crack babies are treated within the community. Child considered to be a crack babies have had their behaviors and responses misinterpreted to be pathological yet it is as normal as any other child hence denying them the social interactivity and help like any other child would get.

Zero tolerance

The notion of zero tolerance is a policy that is ‘user focused’ with the aim of controlling the use of drugs. The law-enforces at all levels target the users of the illicit drugs as opposed to the suppliers and transporters using this policy. The logic behind this approach is that the consumers do create the market for drugs and the consequent demand hence the root cause of the entire drug related problems. Therefore, if there can be harsh penalties leveled against the users, then the demand will be curbed and the consequent slowing of drug flow into the country (National Association of School Psychologists, 2001).

This policy was initiated by the U.S. Customs Services in association with the U.S. Attorney’s office in San Diego as a measure aimed at curbing drug trafficking across the U.S.-Mexico border. This meant that those found in possession of the drugs would face misdemeanor and felony at the same time. The customs, convinced that the policy would curb drug trafficking across the Mexico border, recommended the application of the same across the nation. The National Drug Board, working together with the White House Conference in promoting a drug free America ensured that the zero tolerance policy was enforced by all the drug-enforcement agencies in 1988 (Denis C., 1999).

This policy has grown to be the standard part of the schools within the U.S.A. public schools. This is a policy that has a great support base from the public since it gives the notion of get tough on drugs as well as setting high standards to the drug control. However, this policy has not gone without criticisms, some of which are sound and affects the daily lives of students within the U.S.A. public schools mostly.

Many have equated this policy to the mandatory minimum sentencing in criminal justice system. In both, there is no reprieve for the people involved in light of the circumstances prevailing. This means, the students will undergo punishments that are harsh and excessive like being suspended from school for carrying aspirin into the school premises without prior permission.

The policy is also considered misplaced as it has seen the federal agencies spend huge amounts of money in identifying the few individual users instead of redirecting the massive resources to curbing the influx of the drugs from outside the country that ultimately end up in the streets and not schools.

Boats have been seized on suspicion of ferrying drugs after small traces have been discovered. Most of the time this is seen as too harsh since it could be the commercial boat and the sole source of money that the person or even the entire family could be having. Stopping such a commercial boat from operation for a stick of marijuana extracted from it could be unfair and too harsh bearing that the owner of the boat may not be responsible for the drug after all.

There have also not bee any statistical proof that harsh punishments for drug use has led to the significant reduction in the use of drugs as indicated by Drug Policy Alliance, (2013). This policy has failed still to eliminate the drug use among students hence needs alternatives or complementary program.

There has also been racial disproportionality as the black students are generally seen to receive hasher punishments in the event that they are found with drugs.

The application of the policy is also seen as inconsistent since the punishment is applied without being reserved for serious misdemeanors or behavior problems, but it is slapped on the students indiscriminately even to a very insignificant levels of rule infraction.

There has been an increase in the rate of suspension as well as the length of these suspensions, going for as long as three years, or some end up on permanent expulsion. The other challenge on the same point is that there has been severally repeated suspension, an indication that the policy is not working yet it is still applied and upheld. These suspensions have also increased the number of school dropouts hence creating a counter-effect of the policy.

Generally there are no reasons to positively assert that the zero tolerance policy has been effective in controlling the drug use problem especially in schools bearing the negatives that come with it and the fact that the students at the end of the day will be alone out there.

Legalization of drugs and the consequences

Over the years, there have been calls from all sections of the society for the legalization of some drugs and decriminalization of the same. The supporting arguments floated around are the medicinal value that some have like marijuana, as well as the right to choose what they want with their life without undue interference. There have been some who have also fronted the economic question of lessening the burden that the tax payers have to shoulder in treating and rehabilitating the drug users.

However, the basic truth is that with the legalization of drugs within the U.S.A., there is bound to be more problems relating to criminality as well as social problems. For instance legalization of drugs will lead to even more violence across the U.S. Mexico border with each cartel trying to control as much of the market as possible. It will be a magnification of what is currently experienced in the drug deals.

Factually, criminals will not stop being criminals because a drug has been legalized and start be law abiding citizens, paying their taxes and upholding moral standards within the society. This is in light of the fact that the drug dealers don’t deal in drugs due to the challenge of making a proper sale but because that is what makes them more money and they will not change just because it is now legal.

Apparently the legalization of drugs will lead to more organized gang crimes like those in Mexico. These are battles on whether Mexico will be governed by the rule of law or by the gun. There should be steps to reduce the killings along the border rather than legalizing the trade. The war in Mexico is a struggle to control illegal money hence legalizing drug use will not make much change.

The drug related violence in Mexico is also proven to be a battle to control major drug routes into and out of Mexico rather than a struggle for market and distribution routes. This means that the legalization of the drug use will not make any difference in the violence as the supply will increase hence more violence to have control of the routes and territories.

It is also a wrong presumption that the drug related violence will suddenly disappear if marijuana use is legalized. There are a bunch of other drugs out there from which money is to be made. The traffickers will strengthen their grasp on such drugs to cover up for the lost market niche in marijuana hence a counter-productive measure.

Marijuana is a dangerous and mind altering drug with the effects becoming worse with each passing year of use. Taking marijuana leads to addiction and the consequent severe results. Legalizing such drugs will be tantamount to exposing larger populations to such dangers. The other drugs like meth, heroin, cocaine and so on have even worse consequences and leading to death often. Legalization of such will be a predisposition of more people to death and possible addictions with the results that are not admirable in any way (Drug Enforcement Administration, 2013).

Narco-terrorists and drug cartels

Narco-terrorism: This is a term that came into being in the early 1980s and is largely associated with the Peruvian President Belaunde Terry who used it in 1983 to describe a group of criminals who attacked his drug enforcement police (Holemberg J., 2009). This has since evolved and taken more definitions onboard as the problem of drug violence became more pronounced.

According to Target America (2013), the DEA describes narco-terrorism as organized groups intentionally bent towards drug trafficking in order be able to undertake or to finance premeditated and politically linked violence that is directed against noncombatant subjects with an ultimate aim of influencing the decisions of the government. It is also used to mean a kind of terrorism in which terrorist groups participate in the cultivation, manufacture as well as market distribution of drugs with an aim of gathering money. Some of the known groups of narco-terrorists are FARC in Colombia, IRA in Ireland and PKK in Turkey among others.

Drug Cartels: are, on the other hand, organized groups that are out to control the production and distribution of drugs without necessarily having a political connection or purpose as is the case with narco-terrorism (Steven J.S., 1998). Their sole purpose is to have ease access to the means or production and making money from drugs. These cartels range from loosely connected group of people to very intricate and complex organized groups. It is however worth noting that such cartels can still get intertwined with the politics of the country since they may want to use the money they have to get access to political favors and control as well as skirt the law.


Denis C., (1999). Zero-tolerance policies lack flexibility. U.S. Today. Retrieved May 30, 2013 from

Drug Enforcement Administration, (2013). Speaking out Against Drug Legalization. Retrieved May 30, 2013 from

Drug Policy Alliance, (2013). Zero Tolerance Drug Policies. Retrieved May 30, 2013 from

Holemberg J., 2009). Narcoterrorism. Retrieved May 30, 2013 from

Maia S., (2013). ‘Crack Babies’ Don’t Necessarily Turn Into Troubled Teens. Retrieved May 30, 2013 from

National Association of School Psychologists, (2001). Zero Tolerance and Alternative Strategies: A Fact Sheet for Educators and Policymakers. Retrieved May 30, 2013 from

Sara B., (2012). Scare Tactics: Does fear Influence your Opinion About Drug Abuse? Retrieved May 30, 2013 from

Steven J.S., (1998). Drug cartels: A Threat to National Security. Retrieved May 30, 2013 from

Target America, (2013). Drug Terrorism Facts and Information. Retrieved May 30, 2013 from

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