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Win the War

Natalia J. Garland

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Hollywood was still making good westerns back in 1975. I like the old westerns and I have several in my personal video library. In my collection, however, the Indians are not portrayed as bad guys. Hollywood actually made a few quality western movies in those days which were sympathetic and more realistic regarding the plight of the early Native peoples.

One such movie was called I Will Fight No More Forever. It starred James Whitmore, Sam Elliott, and Ned Romero. It is about the Nez Perce Indians and their forced relocation to a reservation. The U.S. Army captures Chief Joseph. Recognizing the futility of ongoing resistance, Chief Joseph promises, "I will fight no more forever."

The war against the terrorists will not be so easily won. America is fighting a brutal enemy that has financial backing. We will not hear the words, "I will fight no more forever." Not from them. And not from us.

That is why I think social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, and all credentialed counsellors should be called upon to help fight this war. It appears that part of terrorism's financial backing comes from narcoterrorism: the growing and selling of plants used for addictive drugs. Narcoterrorism is also a mode of attack.

Some groups in Central America and South America, and until recently in Afghanistan, are involved in the genetic modification of opium. That is, they are experimenting with plants that would provide a different kind of high, would be more powerfully addictive, and would attract new addicts. So long as there is an American market for addictive drugs, we are engaged in a self-defeating and humiliating lifestyle at the grassroots level of society.

America has to become a nation of recovery in every way and for everyone. The real way to bankrupt the growing and selling of addictive drugs is to get all the drug addicts into effective treatment programs. There is a lot of money being spent for military defense, understandably. But the national defense budget should also include moneys dedicated to making Americans a drug-free people.

Drug treatment should be looked upon as a long-term process, perhaps for the lifetime of many addicts. This goes against the trend toward brief therapy and cost-effective treatment. This takes us back (the pendulum can only swing so far one way before it has to swing back the other way) to the Freudian days when treatment might go on for years and sessions would take place more than once per week. Treatment might again need to be accepted as labor intensive.

There are just some people who probably need lifelong supportive therapy. Twelve Step programs are not going be sufficient for everyone. Some addicts have dual diagnoses, some have histories of trauma, some have never been habilitated let alone rehabilitated. The undesirable alternative is to continue the American market for addictive drugs which are grown and sold by some of our nation's enemies.

Homeland security should involve community social workers who would go out into the neighborhoods and streets in order to assist addicts and their families in finding help. Social workers and other professionals, whether they practice privately or in agencies, should develop and revamp their treatment expertise and programs to serve a long-term clientele.

Society needs to adopt a forever attitude. There is no other area of life where people are held to limits or restrictions such as exist in most treatment programs and insurance coverage. People are expected to go to church all their life. Nobody says go to church for 12 weeks and then you should be able to manage spiritually on your own. Church is forever. In America we value continued education. The concept of lifelong learning is esteemed. And every social worker knows that attending seminars and getting more certificates is expected. Education is forever.

Terrorism is forever. I expect to live out the rest of my life in a changed world. I would gladly fight terrorism in my capacity as a social worker, helping addicts to stay clean and causing the drug market to hit bottom. Recovering addicts would help America recover, just by staying clean and not purchasing any more drugs. Maybe someday Hollywood could make a movie out of it. (Written 03/04/02 - Revised 12/01/03: bibliography available.)

Until we meet again..............stay sane.

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Copyright 2002, 2003 Natalia J. Garland