Drug Abuse and COVID-19 Policies in the US


Currently, there are several crucial issues in the United States, including drug abuse and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. These problems have had far-reaching consequences on the American people threatening their livelihoods and affecting society, economics, and public health, which has suffered the most. To cope with these problems, effective policies need to be developed. Drug policy should be aimed at improving social equality and citizens’ awareness instead of blind prohibition or legalization of drug use. As for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, achieving herd immunity due to mandatory mass vaccination is the only way currently available to defeat this issue.

Drug Policy Plan

Given that the U.S. is a large country where laws and policies differ from state to state, making consolidated federal law for all drugs appears irrational. The states should set particular policies depending on features of the areas and exacerbated issues related to illicit drug use. Nonetheless, new policies should be founded on several common principles. Currently, several drugs are legal for storage and use in some states for medical and recreational purposes, such as marijuana. Much more potent drugs are used to treat various diseases as replacement therapy or pain relief (opioid analgesics, such as morphine, fentanyl, and codeine). Therefore, prohibition of all drugs cannot be advised as a strategy since some drugs are vital for therapy and forbidding such substances is considered “deprived of access to lifesaving treatment” (del Pozo and Beletsky 1). Another argument against drug prohibition is that “criminalization and penalization exacerbate many of the initial problems which make drugs attractive in the first place” (Leonard and Windle 4). It implies that drug abuse is most common among disadvantaged populations, and incarceration and punishment instigate the resumption of substance use.

New policies should focus on addiction treatment, reducing health disparities and social exclusion. Complementary strategies must increase people’s awareness of substance use health outcomes, considering the prevalence of illicit drug abuse. Besides educational and social programs, drug safety testing services should be more common. Quality checking helps people identify the consequences of taking drugs, although the primary goal of such services is to test substance purity and lack of side effects (Ivers et al.). This policy is directed toward harm reduction instead of harm prevention, yet it is crucial because the number of people who use drugs remains enormous despite prohibitions.

COVID-19 Policy Plan

The establishment of policies to cope with pandemic outcomes is accompanied by severe ethical issues. On the one hand, getting vaccinated is an individual choice that a person must make oneself. This point of view reflects the personal right to freedom and liberty of decision-making when it comes to issues of one’s well-being and invasion of one’s body and health. On the other hand, the requirement for vaccination is driven by the need to protect the population. Vaccination helps build herd immunity and prevents the spread of infectious diseases, potentially saving many lives. Even though mandatory vaccination interferes with individual freedom, it appears more ethically correct than not vaccinating, considering the current situation in the U.S.

The control, procurement, and management of vaccines shall remain the Federal government’s function. The government will develop policies to guide the approval and licensing of safe vaccines for mass distribution (Lurie et al. 440). The move is inspired by ensuring only safe and effective drugs such as AstraZeneca and Pfizer are approved for use (Al Khames et al. 6593). All the approved vaccines must be provided free of charge to promote mass uptake. In addition, the government will operate with utmost transparency to win public trust. Various information-sharing avenues have been identified to serve all the populations, including social media, official government websites, and a customer care center. All questions about approved vaccines and why they are safe to use will be addressed.

The U.S. government should promote mandatory vaccination, especially among frontline workers or those who interact with others daily. Vaccinating will protect citizens against COVID-19 and promote herd immunity, which justifies the resolve to make the vaccine mandatory (Pfattheicher 6). Obligatory vaccination and a justified explanation of its necessity are the most suitable policy to avoid new lockdowns, deaths, or economic and social consequences of the pandemic for the U.S.

Works Cited

Al Khames Aga, Qutaiba A., et al. “Safety of COVID‐19 Vaccines.” Journal of Medical Virology, vol. 93, no. 12, 2021, pp. 6588-6594. Web.

Del Pozo, Brandon, and Leo Beletsky. “No “Back to Normal” After COVID-19 for Our Failed Drug Policies.” International Journal of Drug Policy, vol. 83, 2020, pp. 1-5. Web.

Ivers, Jo-Hanna, et al. “Drug Use, Harm-Reduction Practices and Attitudes Toward the Utilisation of Drug Safety Testing Services in an Irish Cohort of Festival-Goers.” Irish Journal of Medical Science (1971-), 2021, pp. 1-10. Web.

Leonard, James, and James Windle. “‘I Could Have Went Down a Different Path’: Talking to People Who Used Drugs Problematically and Service Providers About Irish Drug Policy Alternatives.” International Journal of Drug Policy, vol. 84, 2020, pp. 1-8. Web.

Lurie, Nicole, et al. “The Development of COVID-19 Vaccines: Safeguards Needed.” Jama, vol. 324, no. 5, 2020, pp.439-440. Web.

Pfattheicher, Stefan, et al. “Information About Herd Immunity Through Vaccination and Empathy Promote COVID-19 Vaccination Intentions”.” Health Psychology, 2021, pp. 1-9. Web.

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