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Article

Drug Policy Reform  

Sheila P. Vakharia

Social workers are uniquely qualified to be effective drug policy advocates for effective and equitable policies through their commitment to advancing social welfare and promoting social justice. The prohibitionist antidrug policies that began at the turn of the 20th century have been a key driver for the criminalization of millions of Americans over time, a disproportionate number of whom have been people of color. The period beginning with President Richard Nixon’s “War on Drugs,” in addition to contributing to inequality and marginalization, has exacerbated a number of public health and safety harms, suggesting that past policy approaches have not met their intended aims. The North American opioid overdose crisis in the early 21st century is presented as an illustrative case study because its persistence and mounting death toll exemplify the challenges with the current model of drug prohibition. Areas for macro social work interventions include legislative advocacy through lobbying, provision of expert testimony in legislative hearings, engagement in reform through litigation, involvement in social action, and performing policy analysis and research.

Article

Historical and Intergenerational Trauma  

Laurie A. Walker and Turquoise Skye Devereaux

Historical trauma originated with the social construction of subordinate group statuses through migration, annexation of land, and colonialism. The consequences of creating subordinate group statuses include genocide, segregation, and assimilation. Settler colonialism takes land with militaristic control, labels local inhabitants as deviant and inferior, then violently confines and oppresses the original occupants of the land. Confinement includes relocation, restriction of movement, settlement of lands required for sustenance, as well as confinement in orphanages, boarding schools, and prisons. Historical trauma includes suppression of language, culture, and religion with the threat of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Original inhabitant abuse often results in issues with health, mental health, substance abuse, and generational emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Culturally safe (engagement that respects identity) and trauma-informed social work practices acknowledge the systemic causes of disparities in groups experiencing marginalization and oppression and focus on healing and addressing systemic causes of disparities.