On Indonesia’s False Battle Towards Drugs

A prison guarded by crocodiles. That is the latest “breakthrough” of sort to make sure that Indonesia can win the battle against drugs. The goal you ask? Well I’m guessing some sort of untested negative reinforcement that the Indonesian drug bodies tried to put forward so that people would stay away from drugs. Would it work? Of course not! Why am I so sure? We haven’t even tried it! Well cause logic bitch.

I grant you, this idea seems to be really moronic and you would think that the Indonesian government would never allow this idea to happen right? Well, sadly, you’re wrong. The president liked the idea, the Vice president liked the idea, and the ministers liked the idea. In fact, there is not one government official that I can find whose oppose this idea at all. More amazingly, the people also agree with this idea. That’s the answer, by the way, to the question of why Indonesia has such a big problem with drugs. Because frankly, we’re all delusional!

First of all, if you’re talking about how crocodiles are immune to bribes, then you may forget the fact that they eat whatever they see first. I see chicken, I throw, I ran from the crocodiles (or in this case, I see guard, I push).

Above all else, this seemingly common agreement that we should use crocodile to guard a prison only say so much about Indonesia’s identity and sadistic tendency. “It’s okay! if they tried to run, they’ll get eaten! They probably deserve it anyway!” said one random passerby. Followed by some others in the same sort of tones during one of the reports I watched on this very topic.

The problem here is that people genuinely believe that the only answer towards battling drugs addiction and drugs use is to kill the seller and lock away the consumers. The rationale is that the consequences should scare away the potential offenders.

Thing is they forgot that they’ve been doing this for years and it hasn’t really worked at all. Yet they still stubbornly thing that it is the only way to go. Be it on the street or in the government, the logic seems to be the same.

You see a hole in front of you, you’d avoid it. But doesn’t necessarily mean we’re not going to pass does it?

You see the problem here is that we have a very outdated and fragile system with a very limited outcome. It is ridiculously rigid and archaic that instead of thinking about the consequences, offenders would think about ways to still do it around the law. Close enough but not to close so that they’re not getting burn.

We see drugs offenders not as human, hence we thought that they deserve whatever it is that they’re getting punished for because they did it.

Well, it is not quite as simple as that.

Many drug users tend to start with poor social support and environment that leads them to drugs use be it for stress relieve, source of income, or for social recognition by peers. Not a small number of people also addicted to drugs because they were framed.

So drugs users may not have much choice or may not have the ability to make the right choice during encounters with drugs.

This will get more complicated when they get addicted, because now the process has turned into biological, and to be more precise neurological problem.

You see drug addiction, I’ve said this in my previous writings before and I’m going to say it again, happens not because the people are inherently bad (that’s just us being judgemental), but rather because of their brain’s inability to provide the appropriate supply of dopamine towards the brain. I’m not going to elaborate to much on it, but the bottom line is that the euphoria that drugs are giving to people makes their brain unable to give the necessary positive reinforcement that they need when they finished eating or doing any other survival acts. Hence, the brain would need that drugs to supply the positive reinforcement (hear the devil above).

So locking people up in a cell hoping that they would one day think that they’ve made a mistake and promised to themself they’re not going to do it again doesn’t really work, because that’s not how the brain works. Chances are they will relapse and be back in the cell for another drug offence within months.

In fact, A research published by the journal of addiction science & clinical practice called Return to drug use and overdose after release from prison: a qualitative study of risk and protective factors concluded that “Relapse to drugs and alcohol occurred in a context of poor social support, medical co-morbidity and inadequate economic resource”.

So their best chances, then, would be the rehab right?

Well, that’s a very compelling and promising solution that are increasingly being proposed in modern developed countries like the US and the UK.

The Justice Policy Institute in 2010 released a paper saying that treatment is both more effective and cost friendly compared to prison.

Anyway, I’ve gone to far off-track there; all I’m saying is that the Indonesian has the wrong attitude to fight drugs offenses. It is understandable that we automatically think that people who commit drugs offense are inherently bad and should be punished appropriately, but we tend to forget that they are also human. And they deserved to be treated as one. More importantly they are struggling and they need help. The last thing that we want to do is to kick them when they’re already on the ground.

Killing druggies, putting crocodiles around prisons, not giving clemency specifically towards drug offenders is not the right attitude. It is not proven to be effective, and fact of the matter is that people still use and sell drugs.

There is a pattern here, and I genuinely think that our best shot at battling drugs is to see the pattern and cut the head of the snake. Be it by giving a comprehensive drug education at early age or cracking the international drug chains or even both.

All and all I am just sick of how barbaric we (and by we I mean Indonesian) can be when it comes to drugs users. As if they are so low and inhuman that they deserve every hell possible on earth. That is very sad, especially when our second Pancasila says Kemanusiaan yang adil dan beradab (Just and civilised humanity).

The mentality and behavior of drug addicts and alcoholics is wholly irrational until you understand that they are completely powerless over their addiction and unless they have structured help, they have no hope.” – Russell brand


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