Date of Award

Spring 6-13-2021

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of arts (BA)


Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Diana Falco


The War on Drugs is a battle that has been fought within the United States for fifty years now; however, it began well before the declaration of war made by President Nixon in 1971. Since even before the prohibition era one century ago, the United States has struggled with drug addiction. Research shows that our current day results have actually digressed since the initial declaration of the war on drugs, and yet, the same methods are still being implemented over and over, despite our widespread awareness of its failure. The main failure is declaring a war against drugs. There is an apparent shift in this scenario where the war on drugs becomes the war against drug addicts. Rather than working as a united front to help beat the disease of addiction, America forces drug addicts further into their situation through lack of resources, mass incarceration, and inconsistent drug laws—some charges are felonies while some are legal in different states or federally. Implementation of successful methods from other countries could be a very doable yet spark a significantly positive change of measures in response to the war on drugs. Blending methods from countries like Portugal and Norway are the means to one possible successful outcome, where we become more accepting of soft drugs like marijuana and some natural hallucinogens such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). On the other hand, the United States could replicate the methods of countries which work in opposing methods from Portugal and Norway: Sweden and Japan. These countries’ drug laws are much more strict, prohibiting the use of drugs while expecting the respect of their citizens; however, both Sweden and Japan provide more extensive resources for their citizens who do suffer from addiction, rather than incarcerating them with little to no assistance during their time in prison. Each of these countries listed above maintain relatively low drug rates. With that, crime rates are tightly correlated. Lower drug rates create more successful individuals, which eventually uplifts society overall. With today’s technological advances and media outlets, sparking change is not nearly as complicated as before the existence of online social platforms. If America can adopt these potential new means and work as a united front to spark change, defeating the war on drugs is an achievement that will reward the United States for decades to come.