Government officials around the country are beginning to feel the pressure to fight the opiate problems plaguing many towns. Most small towns have never experienced the devastation that occurs when heroin consumes the community. It is somewhat of a culture shock and most of the parents, teachers and professionals in the area scurry for information on how to stop the problem. It boils down to the lack of education and the over prescribing of prescription painkillers across the United States.
As prescription painkiller laws become more strict, the ability to get pain pills diminishes. The painkillers from a few years back have also changed. Purdue Pharma, makers of Oxycontin, were pressured to change the pills they had been producing since December of 1995. In August of 2010 they released a new form of their drug that making it harder to abuse. Purdue's new formula helped to curb abusers from crushing the pills in order prevent shooting, snorting or smoking them. When you change the drugs availability, addicts become desperate for new and easier opioids to abuse. Changing the formula does not curb abuse. This is why in most towns across the United States are seeing dramatic increases in overdoses and hospital visits associated with heroin.
When the public becomes concerned about the issues plaguing their towns, they look to lawmakers to make changes that impact their area. Last week in Kentucky, the state senate passed a bill that requires those convicted of trafficking more than 4 grams of heroin or methamphetamine to serve at least 50 percent of their prison sentence before becoming eligible for probation, parole or early release. In any cases of overdose deaths, homicide charges will be filed against traffickers. The bill will also require coroners to report overdoses caused by schedule 1 drugs such as heroin to the state.
This is huge for the state of Kentucky. Many people do not believe that jail is a good thing for people in recovery. I agree and disagree. It depends on the person who becomes incarcerated. For many people, going to jail is rock bottom. They feel like they can go no lower than having their freedom taken away. Let's face it, if you stay out on the streets shooting dope for too long and have no desire to get clean or do not have any consequences of using, you will most likely end up overdosing or going to jail. If incarcerated, you will be off the streets, forced to quit using, and have time to analyze what is going on in your life.
I expect many states to follow Kentucky. A few months back the state of Ohio passed the same bills. This epidemic is steam rolling through every state and government officials want to curb as much abuse as possible. Stricter laws are a great way of doing this, but I hope that state politicians understand the need for funding treatment and rehab centers as well. More treatment facilities and more emphasis on education will be a great addition to these laws in helping to curb opiate abuse.