Great article Rob! One thing to keep in mind with this topic is that drugs aren't who a person is. At least not initially. We've seen infinity ad nauseum instances in tv and sometimes even real life of someone consumed and basically only living for the high. This is not always the case. As some mentioned there have been very successful people who with varying degrees have "done drugs." Sometimes people do come back. It's just that it's fought on an internal battlefield where only the user can determine whether they beat it or not.
Like all addictions they tend to fill two needs for a person, a crutch or just to release endorphins. Both of these can be obtained safely from a variety of ordinary, safe sources. The things is people don't always realize this or have access to a lot of things that healthy people tend to need to develop; friends, family, pets, hobbies, careers,etc. When a person can't get these they naturally look for alternatives, any alternative to being left with that soul gnawing hunger. Drugs aren't the only things people abuse. Things as innocuous as food, fitness, and media entertainment (we've had that conversation before, haven't we
) can be relied upon far beyond the role they should fill in our lives. Drugs are the easy button to push and even have their own community where outsiders of society feel they can belong.
Drug traffickers are indeed a serious threat and a major contributor to the nasty cycle of drug abuse worldwide, but they're not the root cause, just profiteers and easy money for the hopelessly unemployed in many societies. The problem is that people feel compelled to use things that can become addictive in the first place. Some of these things are designed to be addictive but in many cases it really is all in your head and the self-programming you do. The best thing that the average person can do is to starve the suppliers of their demand. Prices drop, they lose business, they close up areas of operation and soon the reward doesn't mitigate the risk. Ways you can do this are, obviously spreading the good word about addiction, helping kids struggling in school or adults in their jobs, making friends (support networks help prevent use and help people recover), and donating money or volunteering time at shelters, soup kitchens and other good will institutions. Prevent others from falling in the first place, bolster the safety nets many of us try to throw and just care about others. Want to help on a bigger scale? Sign on with bigger charity organizations or get involved in politics to pass bills and reforms that don't leave people out on the street and alone. If everyone or at least most people are good to each other, most of these sorts of things won't happen in the first place. Cooperation and helping others beyond our own immediate gain are very important skills for the future that we need to be teaching. If we don't make the effort, the problems will only get worse.
TLDR: Addictive drugs and stuff are bad. Help others and it won't happen. Give a damn.