By Jason Daye -November 25, 2020
Christina Dent is a mother of three and the founder and president of End It for Good, a conservative non-profit that invites people to consider alternatives to our criminal justice approach to drugs and drug use. These alternatives range from ending criminal penalties for drug possession to legal regulation of substances, all with a Kingdom-focused goal of less societal harm.
Other Ways to Listen to this Podcast with Christina Dent:
Key Questions for Christina Dent
-How did becoming a foster parent change your view on the War on Drugs?
-You contend that the vast majority of harm that comes from drugs is from criminalizing drugs, not the drugs themselves. Why do you believe that?
-What do you say to the idea that as soon as you decriminalize drugs, you are condoning their use?
-What is the responsibility of church leaders in the efforts to help the U.S.’s drug problem?
Key Quotes from Christina Dent
“My story is not a radically changed lifestyle. It’s really a radically changed mind.”
“I thought a mom who used drugs when she was pregnant must not love her child…[but] I just saw this mother who loved her son just as much as I loved my three sons, this fierce love, this desperate desire to do the right thing, to be there for him, to be a good mom, even though she was struggling with this addiction.”
“The United States has by far the highest incarceration rate in the world.”
“Even if I think drugs aren’t good and even if I think drug use isn’t good, is outlawing, criminalizing the right thing to do? Is the criminal justice system the right tool to be using for this issue?”
“How we handle drugs is about how we handle people.”
“I started to see this pattern in the kinds of harm that I was coming across and learning about….One kind of harm from drugs comes from the harm that substances can do themselves by putting them in our bodies. The other kind of harm comes from what happens when you criminalize a substance.”
“We are not fighting crime by prohibiting drugs. We’re actually funding it.”
“We have a huge overdose crisis, but the vast majority of those overdoses aren’t happening from the legal, regulated substances. They are happening because of people getting substances on the street that they don’t know the potency or purity of.”
“I could see Joanne’s drug use, but I could also see that incarceration just would be really harmful.”
“What I learned on this journey was something I had never known before, which is the role of trauma in driving drug use and addiction, that it’s one of the highest risk factors for whether a person who uses drugs begins problematically using them.
“Drug use at its core is ultimately about feeling better.”
“When we traumatize people in an effort to get them to stop using substances, we’re actually creating more risk factors for them to develop an addiction or for an addiction to increase.”
“We are not starving out addiction by criminalizing people who are using drugs. We are actually feeding it.”
“My goal has always been to reduce harm to people. My goal has always been that I want to see lives saved and preserved. But I came to realize that my goal was still the same, but what I think is actually going to get us closer to that goal is very different.”
“We have to acknowledge that there is no world where all harm from drugs goes away. That’s not true with alcohol. We have loads of harm from alcohol today. But if you look at what happened during Prohibition…It’s created this whole explosion of other harms.”
“It isn’t that there is a perfect solution. It’s that we have to weigh the pros and cons of the solutions we have.”
“I definitely would agree, there are some people today who aren’t using substances because they’re illegal that will probably use them if they’re not illegal. That’s true—I’m totally fine saying that that is true. But at what cost do we keep those few people from using those substances?”
“There’s lots of regulatory options. We have a lot of those set up already.”
“What [other countries] are doing are switching from a criminal justice approach to drugs to a health-centered approach to drugs, and as you do that, you see better outcomes.”
“We hold the lives of people like Joanne in our hands.”
“There are a lot of bad or immoral or even outright sinful things that are not criminal, and Christians aren’t lobbying for them to be criminal…just because something is legal doesn’t mean that we are encouraging people to use it, and it doesn’t mean that just because something is bad that criminalizing it or using the criminal justice system is the best way to handle it.”
“I see what Oregon did [in decriminalizing drugs] as a huge step forward in stopping the use of the criminal justice system and allowing people to be addressed in a way that best helps their drug use.”
“The majority of Christians in America feel faith-bound to criminalization.”
“For Christian leaders to at least really engage in this conversation is really important. Because what I’ve found in our work is that there are lots and lots of Christians who are rethinking these issues and they’re looking to their leaders to sort of signal to them, is it okay to rethink what we’ve been doing?”
“Drug use is rampant. Addiction is rampant, and families in our churches are suffering under the weight of shame and silence.”
“This is what the church can provide…a safe place to have these conversations and an open place to consider alternatives.”
Mentioned in the Show by Christina Dent
Email Jennifer@enditforgood.com to get a free copy of “Chasing the Scream”
Email Christina@enditforgood.com to share your thoughts on this interview
The 10 Commandments
“Chasing the Scream: The Opposite of Addiction Is Connection” by Johann Hari
Oregon’s decriminalization of drugs
Portugal’s decriminalization of drugs
War on Drugs