This country has been having a seemingly endless debate about drugs. Although there are gradations in between, there seem to be two mostly opposing camps, to wit, those who would treat drugs as a law enforcement problem, and those who would treat them as a public health problem.
I spent four years as Counselor to the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Drugs are both a law enforcement and a public health problem, and we aren’t going to solve it either by dismissing law enforcement as mere latter day Puritanism, nor by dismissing the opportunity for treatment as mere mush-minded coddling. But what’s getting overlooked is that no part of the system can be the foundation for a solution. The foundation for overcoming drugs, as with so much else, is the individual’s understanding that he is responsible for his life and behavior, and his determination to own that responsibility every minute of every day. This post is about the story of one young lady, Ginny Burton, who resurrected her life with the indispensable help of law enforcement, incarceration, and coming to terms with her failings — and then, wonderfully, her potential.