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The Drug Abuse and Associated Disorders: An Overview of the Anti-Drug Policy and the Need for Policy Change

The Drug Abuse and Associated Disorders: An Overview of the Anti-Drug Policy and the Need for Policy Change

Drug abuse and associated disorders are serious problems of modern public health care. The use of psychoactive agents causes more than 400,000 cases of death each year. More than 0,55% of the global disease burden is caused by drug abuse. The prevention of drug abuse and minimizing the vulnerability and the risks that promote the use of such substances, as well as the development of the caused disorders, are among the most important healthcare measures. They strive to solve the problem of this addiction. The given paper discusses drug abuse and the role of an advanced practice nurse in changing the policy concerning drug abuse and preventing such behavior.

Legislation on the Drug Abuse

The U.S. national legislation aims to fight drugs; in other words, it strives to reduce drug abuse by banning specific substances unless medicinal. The current legal base offers comprehensive measures for the effective war on drugs. They consider all aspects of health care, from the primary prevention and reduction of risks to treating diseases caused by drug abuse, as well as rehabilitation and treatment. The existing laws on drug abuse are based on the principles of justice and social equality regarding health, compliance with human rights provisions, ecological determinants of health, policies that regulate scientific interventions, and socially-oriented approaches. Both state and federal laws in the USA tend to criminalize any illegal actions associated with the use or spread of drugs and toughen up the punishment for the same.

The analysis of the drug situation shows that the dynamics of drug trafficking in the country, its tendencies, and the activities of the law enforcement agencies in this sphere of the drug war depend, first of all, on the general state strategy in the struggle with the drug abuse, related legislative provisions, and an organization of anti-drug activities of the state institutes, health care agencies, and public organizations. The main legal approaches to the problem of drug abuse include a restrictive approach (the reduction of drug trafficking). It is accompanied by the obligatory treatment and re-training of the addicts and the toughening of punitive measures for violating the anti-drug legislation.

The Current Anti-Drug Policy

Drug addiction is a considerable problem in modern society that significantly affects not only an individual but also the domains of public health, health protection, and the education of the youth. Large-scale use of drugs causes damage to the safety and unity of society and promotes the growth of criminal activities; thus, it is a serious economic problem for the law-enforcement agencies, health care system, and the whole social development of the state. Drug trafficking is not a simple short-term crisis. It is a constant threat of a bigger or smaller intensity. The use of drugs is interconnected with a large number of social and economic factors, and the policy in the field of preventing drug addiction needs permanent and purposeful support of the potential of the state’s social policy.

The anti-drug policy is responsible for managing the drug abuse situation by forming a negative-differentiated attitude of the population toward all participants of drug trafficking and establishing the legal prohibition of any promotion of drugs and their not medical use. In addition, it includes implementing control over the fulfillment of this ban by physical persons and legal entities and applying administrative sanctions to violators.

The U.S. anti-drug policy is based on the implementation of two main principles. The first principle aims to reduce drug abuse and the second set limitations on foreign drug supplies. The anti-drug policy presupposes the implementation of substitution programs to persuade farmers who grow drug-containing plants to terminate their businesses.

The Specific Aspects of the Policy Change

To make some changes in the anti-drug policy, it is necessary to eliminate the out-of-date anarchic systems of concepts and the impossibility of solving them. The offered policy change presupposes including the person-oriented approach in implementing the anti-drug policy. First, to improve the existing control of drugs, it is necessary to weaken the suffocating vice of international treaties. These agreements should be reformed or eliminated; thus, they will give way to anti-drug policies fixed by countries in their legislation bases.

Implementing the person-oriented approach based on the protection of human rights means incorporating all applicable standards into the sphere of human rights protection in the anti-drug policy, strategy, action plans, and processes for their implementation. It will provide the best compliance with the world’s human rights standards. The person-oriented approach presupposes the balance between human rights and public concerns as a more effective solution to drug abuse problems. Besides, a person-oriented approach based on human rights protection allows solving complex multidimensional problems through interconnected and mutually strengthening negative factors. It allows for avoiding stigmatization, discrimination, vulnerability, and social exception. Thus, the anti-drug policy, oriented on human rights, can cover more unprotected social groups.

Individuals That Will Benefit from the Policy Change

First of all, the change in the anti-drug policy will affect the target population – the drug users and all those willing to get rid of their dependence on drugs. The humanistic approach and the focus on personality and individuality will benefit the policy change and potentiate positive effects for drug abusers. Moreover, the nursing personnel, especially the APNs, will benefit from the policy change as they will have to obtain new knowledge and skills, positively affecting their personal and professional growth.

Support for the change can be requested from governmental organizations and the private sector. The anti-drug policy based on the person-oriented approach can be supported by some international organizations that protect human rights and struggle for a person’s priority. Moreover, governmental organizations can give financial or medical support and informational coverage of the new policy. In such a manner, they can increase the awareness level of the population concerning the problem of drug abuse in society, methods of the war on drugs, and the protection of human rights in this war.

The Impact of the Drug Policy Change on the Nursing Practice

The offered policy change in drug abuse will cause some essential changes in the nursing practice. Because a nurse should be ready to interact with different personalities, the new approach to drug abusers within the framework of the new policy should be based on the individuality-individuality principle. These changes allow patients to revise their ideas concerning the state health-illness problem. In other words, it will be possible to convince them of the necessity to lead a healthy way of life or follow APN’s recommendations for drug prevention and treatment. The nursing staff should take an active part in solving patients’ problems as most drug abusers cannot easily adapt to the change in their health condition, and their attitude to their state of health can be characterized as being purely emotional.

For the successful implementation of a new anti-drug policy, some changes in the education and training of APNs are necessary. The nursing process requires profound training of nurses in psychology, sociology, and pedagogics, as well as the ability to estimate a patient’s condition in clinical settings and from a psychological point of view. In addition, it focuses a patient’s attention on adapting to the changing state of their health. Thus, the change in the drug policy in terms of the nursing practice will be prominent. It will show students, future nursing personnel, and the APNs that the person-oriented approach, the changes in the nursing process, and the application of the nursing models in the drug treatment practice are the main conditions for successfully implementing changes in the anti-drug policy.

The Impact of the Policy Change on My Practice

The change in the anti-drug policy will affect my clinical practice as an APN. The necessity to receive additional training is the only key issue in implementing necessary changes in the anti-drug policy in the nursing practice. Therefore, it is necessary to subject the experience and knowledge of APNs to the possibility of taking the necessary measures to change the anti-drug policy. As for me, I will analyze all existing nursing practices and choose the one that will correspond to changes that occur in the anti-drug policy.

To implement the change in the anti-drug policy, I need to provide all nursing services and interventions that are directed at the decrease in the risk of the emergence of any negative consequences from the use of drugs from the point of view of the availability of services and access to them. Moreover, my nursing process should be based on the continuity of the treatment, rehabilitation, and effective reintegration of ex-drug users into the changing environment without drugs and with new social roles. In my clinical nursing practice, I will treat and rehabilitate drug abusers in parallel. However, the focus on a person and one’s individuality can be effective in the rehabilitation and social reintegration stages of drug abusers.

Moreover, the creation of the potential and, in particular, a sufficient number of nursing supervisors and instructors is an indispensable condition for training specialists with the qualification necessary for developing an effective policy practice. Multidimensional and multisector cooperation is essential for providing corresponding skills and knowledge that are crucial in the field of health care services aimed at the war on drugs.


The change in the anti-drug policy is a complex process that faces some hindrances and challenges in its development and implementation. The given paper tried to offer one of the possible changes to the drug abuse problem and a tool to effectively implement this policy. The offered anti-drug policy presupposes the focus on the human being, person, and individuality. It is based on the protection of the human rights of every drug abuser. APNs play an important role in changing policy as they are the main agents of change, the efficiency of which depends on the obtained knowledge and acquired skills.

📎 References

1. Drug Policy Alliance. (2013). An exit strategy for the failed war on drugs: A federal legislative guide. Majors Innovation Project.
2. Jenner, M.S. (2011). International drug trafficking: A global problem with a domestic solution. Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies, 18(2), 901-927.
3. Russell, K.A. (2012). Nurse practice acts guide and govern nursing practice. Journal of Nursing Regulation, 3(3), 36-42.
4. Sacco, L.N. (2014). Drug enforcement in the United States: History, policy, and trends. Congressional Research Service. Retrieved from https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43749.pdf
5. Winterbourne, M. (2012). United States drug policy: The scientific, economic, and social issues surrounding marijuana. Social Sciences, 2012, 92-100.