I know that we as human being have been addicted to something since the first bite of the apple, and maybe it’s time we stop trying to punish addiction, and find ways it does not devastate our communities, drain our resources, and kill our loved ones. Maybe we should find ways to intervene with the user who is no longer able to make sound and safe decisions, and risk their lives along with ours. Have the user committed to treatment when they cannot care for themselves. Why are we waiting for someone to hit “rock bottom”? Isn’t overdosing and almost dying the bottom? Dying should not be our definition of the “bottom”. Place them in treatment (we know it takes multiple attempts at recovery like smoking, alcohol, poor diet and takes 1-3 years for the brain to be re-wired from opiate addiction) and have the user recover to a job and repay some costs that were incurred. Let’s brainstorm ideas that should spur us from anger and blame, to anger and solutions.
Trust me when I say there is enough justified anger to go around with the meth/opioid epidemic. Discussions of whose life should be or should not be saved are inappropriate at best, and do nothing to add to productive discussions of what could be done to end this epidemic. We can be angry but let’s use that anger to inspire us to change; not condemnation, judgement or lack of compassion.
We need to put some perspective on the fact that addictions cost us all financially, in resources and in lives. Absolutely the user has responsibility, but so do those who put even more addictive and deadly products on the street. I agree with the studies that incarceration has not worked, the war on drugs has not worked, we will not arrest our way out of this. We must find new ways to deter people from selling drug, and have some understanding that we all suffer from addictions. We ask which is the cause, the addiction or the product? We need to understand that one cannot survive without the other. We look at basic issues, and place blame, but do not delve into the layers of the issue such as mental illness, trauma, homelessness and socioeconomic status. Who has a chance to recover, and who does not—location plays a large role, as does family support. The issues surrounding drug addiction are far more complex than making money, or the chance to escape reality.
This all leads me to the one thing that we NEED in order to create a healthy community—detox beds and long term treatment.