Whiteside Manor - Affordable California Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center
We'll help you find and stay on the right path
Call 1-800-300-RECOVER (7326)

. . .

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Opioid Addicts Need Treatment - Not Jail

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that heroin overdose deaths in the United States have more than tripled since 2010, an insidious byproduct of government crackdowns on prescription opioid use and abuse. After a decade of doctors over prescribing opioid narcotics, practically every state took measures to combat the crisis - instituting prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) which help identify suspicious prescribing and patient “doctor shopping.”

 Left with few options for acquiring prescription opioids and arguably fewer options to receive substance use disorder treatment, the logical choice for many opioid addicts determined to avoid withdrawal was to seek out heroin. The move from prescription opioids to heroin created another head to the hydra known as the opioid epidemic.

Unlike prescription drugs, heroin use is illegal. Historically, those found to be in possession of heroin would be facing guaranteed incarceration. While jailing addicts may get them off the street for a time, it does little to address addiction. Addiction is a disease which, like any illness, requires treatment - not exile. Those living with addiction that are sent to jail for their sickness, do their time and are released, will almost always return to using. It is only a matter of time before they are arrested again and end up behind bars, or worse - overdose.

Fortunately, in communities around the country, law enforcement agencies are beginning to understand that incarceration is not an effective weapon against the opioid epidemic. They are seeing that the draconian drug laws that were the model for decades actually may have been a contributing factor to the crisis that we face today.

The state of Ohio is one of many that have been hit especially hard by the opioid problem. In an attempt to be proactive, a “quick response team” was formed in a suburb of Cincinnati, whose aim is to steer overdose victims into treatment, the Associated Press reports. Police, paramedics and addiction counselors combine their forces to get opioid addicts the help they need while the trauma of an overdose is still fresh.

Naturally, there are some who feel that law enforcement should not act as social workers, but the epidemic we face is one of life or death and it is not something that we can arrest away. That’s not to say that law enforcement in Colerain Township is lighting up on heroin dealers, according to the article.

"There were some naysayers who say these are nothing but junkies — lock them up," said John Tharp, sheriff in Lucas County, Ohio. "We may think this is soft (for police), but when you have a crisis in your community, you need to be proactive. We're being aggressive."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comment!