TRENTON, N.J.(CBSNewYork) — New Jersey Governor Chris Christie wants to change the war on drugs. On Wednesday he made a bold statement about drug abuse and prevention.
“It is a dismal failure,” the governor said.
That is what he thinks about the war on drugs. Governor Christie told CBS This Morning’s Gayle King that the war has not worked.
As CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported, Governor Christie said that addicts need treatment, not jail time.
“It can happen to anyone, any family, no matter your education, your economic background, your race, your religion. And so we need to give those people the tools and treat it as a disease. We’re not helping our society by just locking people up,” he said.
It’s contrary, some say, to what the U.S. has been doing since the 1970s, mostly centering a war on the illegal drug trade which costs billions each year.
The governor said that it has to start at home.
“We want to give people the tools to try and save their lives. We’re not going to save every life, but we gotta try,” he said.
Saving lives was the message of a documentary that features recovering addicts saying that heroin addiction starts with prescription pill abuse.
“I went home with what I would call a care package, percoset, vicodin,” one woman said.
Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey is one of Christie’s foot soldiers in New Jersey’s fight to prevent drug abuse.
“There are people who are addicted who have not come in contact with the justice system,” Carey said.
Carey helped organize a symposium with doctors, some of who say over-prescribing is the problem.
“We can do physical therapy, acupuncture, that can be done in countries in Europe they do medication,” Dr. Shuvendu Sam explained.
It remains to be seen if those are alternatives that Americans are willing to look at.
Many drug prevention advocates say drug education needs to start in the first grade.
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