Have we reached a humane alternative to the war on drugs?
Can treating addiction as a disease work better than treating it as a vice?
- The War on Drugs has taken fifty years of America's time, and an unfathomable amount of our blood and treasure.
- A new method for dealing with drug abuse, treating it as a disease rather than a moral failure, is being tried.
- Studies suggest this is a better way to deal with the problem, and programs using this view are seeing success.
The war on drugs is nearly 50 years old. In that time, countless billions of dollars have been spent on it, unnumbered millions have been incarcerated because of it, and thousands upon thousands of lives have been taken in the places were the war has turned violent.
With more and more Americans supporting the legalization of marijuana, an increasing abhorrence to the mass incarceration of non-violent offenders, and the general realization that the war on drugs didn't really work, alternatives to treating drug use as a crime are being proposed as ways forward to both help those struggling with addiction and keep dangerous chemicals off the streets.
One program from Seattle has attached a fair amount of attention and study. Dubbed the LEAD program, it could offer a new way forward for American drug policy.
The LEAD program
Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) is a program that shifts drug policy focus away from prosecution and towards recovery.
Rather than immediately arrest and lock up low-level drug offenders or prostitutes, officers are given the discretion to offer them help in the form of treatment programs. If they choose to accept treatment, they are given resources such as addiction recovery, stable housing, and help finding work.
Those who choose the treatment mostly avoid the court system altogether, and see more counselors than judges. They are not charged with crimes that go on their records either. The only real catch is that the "client," as they are called, has to see a counselor at least twice in the first month of signing up. Everything else, including how quickly they are expected to quit taking drugs, is determined on a case-by-case basis.
Violent offenders are not eligible for the program, and nobody has to participate in it. It would be strange if you didn't, though. While Seattle is a…. leader in this area, dozens of counties and municipalities around the country are looking into or have started similar programs.
While the program hasn't been around long, beginning only in 2011, it has been the subject of a few studies. One found that people who go through the program are much less likely to be arrested again than those who choose not to go through it. Another shows that LEAD graduates are more likely to have jobs and stable housing, both essential parts of staying clean and out of jail. There have also been reports of less drug use overall and a reduced prison population.
Why do this? Why spend the money on junkies and dope fiends?
Because it does what the war on drugs was supposed to do and never did: actually keep people off drugs.
While it can be satisfying to stick it to people we're angry at, it is rarely a suitable method for reaching social goals. Intellectuals of all political persuasions have condemned our current system for dealing with drug use as ineffective, immoral, and an immense waste of money.
The RAND Corporation has issued countless reports testifying to the lack of sense behind the strategy the war on drugs uses. Several studies have shown putting people in prison is a terrible way to make sure they don't use drugs again when they get out and has a variety of other problems it creates. Libertarian darling Milton Friedman condemned the War on Drugs from both an economic and a philosophic point of view, as has progressive hero Robert Reich.
When you can get those two to agree on a major policy option for both moral and economic reasons, you know you have something special.
The War on Drugs is a failure; only the most adamant generals in the fight can fail to see that. A new strategy for dealing with high rates of drug addiction and the pain it can cause is needed. The LEAD program shows that treating addiction as a disease rather than a moral failing and acting accordingly are not only viable but may be better methods for getting people to stop using drugs than anything we've tried before.
Whether we have the same political will to apply the LEAD program's lessons as we did when we wanted to lock up every pothead we could find is another question. Let's hope that we do.
- An Innovative Drug Policy That Works - Open Society Foundations ›
- Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD): Reducing the Role of ... ›
- LEAD program, aimed at helping instead of punishing addicts, to ... ›
- Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) - King County ›
- LEAD > Drug Screening > Program Overview ›
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Whether or not women think beards are sexy has to do with "moral disgust"
- A new study found that women perceive men with facial hair to be more attractive as well as physically and socially dominant.
- Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength, social assertiveness, and formidability.
- Women who display higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, are more likely to prefer hairy faces.
Beards and perceptions of masculinity<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg0MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzkxMjM3N30.cH-GqNwP5GVqvstgJWAhBPn1B_lYpVEAI0I7iax7EQw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C1900%2C0%2C849&height=700" id="caae6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cb0a355a4e8e1899789bc45f3f7aef56" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Photo Credit: Wikimedia<p>The study used 919 American (mostly white) women ages 18-70 who rated 30 pictures of men they were shown with various stages of facial hair growth. The photographs depicted men with faces that had been digitally altered to look more feminine or more masculine, with a beard and without a beard. The women rated the men according to perceived attractiveness for long-term and short-term relationships. The study found that the more facial hair the men had, the higher the men were rated on their attractiveness, particularly for their suitability for a long-term relationship.</p><p>Part of this might be attributed to facial masculinity — i.e. protruding brow ridge, wide cheekbones, thick jawline, and deeply set narrow eyes — which conveys information to a woman about a man's underlying health and formidability. Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength and social assertiveness. It can also indicate a man with a superior immune response. The researchers suggested that their findings favoring bearded men could be due to the fact that facial hair enhances the masculine facial features on a man's face, like creating the illusion of a thicker jaw line. This could communicate direct benefits to women like resources and protection that would enhance survival among mothers and their infants. In other words, while a beard doesn't mean superior genetics in and of itself, it might be a primitive, ornamental way of saying, "Hey girl, I'm a testosterone-fueled lean, mean, pathogen fighting machine." <br></p><p>It could also be that a beard becomes its own destiny. The researchers in this study cite prior research that found that by growing a beard, men felt more masculine and had higher levels of serum testosterone, which was linked to a higher level of social dominance. They also tended to subscribe to more old-school beliefs about gender roles in their relationships with women as compared to men with clean-shaven faces.<span></span><br></p>
What does disgust have to do with beard preference?<p>Obviously, not all women dig beards. The researchers were particularly interested in what traits make a women prefer bearded men over clean-shaven faces. They looked into several factors including a woman's disgust levels on various concepts, her desire to become pregnant, and her exposure to facial hair in her personal life. </p><p>According to the study, women who were not into facial hair were turned-off by potential parasites or other critters they imagined could be in the hair or skin. Women ranking high on this "ectoparasite disgust" scale might have viewed beards as a sign of poor grooming habits. However, women who ranked higher in levels of "pathogen" did find the bearded men to be desirable, possibly because they perceived beards as a signal of good health and immune function. An intriguing discovery in the study was links to morality. Women who displayed higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, were more likely to prefer hairy faces. The authors opined that this could reflect a link between beardedness, politically conservative outlooks, and traditional views regarding performances of masculinity in heterosexual relationships.</p>
Additional findings<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg1My9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDI1NjUyOX0.P9B8WbmJR0q4nfzYZKbuNSA-2SAigVWJgrQE-_Gxlds/img.gif?width=980" id="49143" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2ed3b1d6f20fc170bf2974646e565e8d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Giphy<p>The correlations that existed between married and single women's rating on the attractiveness of beards were not particularly clear, although the researchers noted that single and married women who wanted children tended to find beards more attractive than the women who didn't want children. They also found that women with bearded husbands found beards to be more attractive, which might indicate that social exposure to beards influences how desirable they are perceived of as being. Or it could be that men with wives who like beards grow beards.</p><p>It's important to note that culture plays a huge role in how attractive women perceive certain male characteristics as being. This study looked at a small, culturally specific group of American women, so no big, universal claims should be made about masculinity, facial hair, and male desirability to women. However, research like this is important in highlighting how human grooming decisions are driven by much more than fashion trends. Sociobiological, economic, and ecological factors all play a part in the way we choose to present ourselves.</p>
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