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Prosecution of Opiate Addicts Not The Answer To The Opioid Problem

Our nations jails and prisons are filled to capacity partially due to drug problem that the United States is facing. The way our current legal system prosecutes drug users may not be helping the situation at hand. If a user is put into jail or prison, they may still have access to drugs inside the facility. Obtaining drugs in prison is very common, as contraband is regularly snuck into the facilities for inmates to abuse, sell or barter with.

If we keep prosecuting drug abusers by throwing them in jail, they will eventually end up back on the streets without any rehabilitation.  Most likely they will end up back behind bars. Drug abusers in the prison system are very much like a “revolving door”. Men and women who are put into jail because of drug use would be better off receiving rehabilitation and education. It is time for states to fund new ways of dealing with this issue. It may cost taxpayers more money at first to pay for such programs, but the amount of money and lives saved in the long run will be worth it.

Think of how many lives would be saved if drug abusers were taught how to cope with their underlying issues and given the tools to live a clean life in our society, rather than being put in jail. Many abusers have been addicted for so long they do not know how to deal with every day problems and instead resort to using drugs. If given the right guidance, they can lead a successful sober life. Programs like this would drastically lower the crime rate because many crimes are drug related. If more of an effort is put into education instead of putting a band-aid on the problem, more lives will be saved and less crime will be committed.

In Pittsburgh, United States Attorney David Hickton formed a group of local people from the business, governmental, religious, medical and non-profit communities to take on the opiate epidemic. “We cannot prosecute our way out of the problem of opioid addiction,” Mr. Hickton said in a news release. “We need to better address the demand side of the problem by being more attentive to and understanding of addiction, treatment and recovery.”

The group is known as the “Working Group On Addiction: Prevention, Intervention, Treatment and Recovery". The group of 18 members first met on April 7, 2014 and created subcommittees on safety, community outreach and treatment. The group is co-chaired by clinical psychologist Michael Flaherty. It includes James Rohr of PNC Financial Services Group, representatives from the University of Pittsburgh, UPMC, Allegheny County, the Bidwell Presbyterian Church, the Buhl Foundation, and advocacy groups including Sage’s Army, the Pennsylvania Alliance for Safe and Drug Free Children, the Jade Wellness Center, the Veterans Administration and several behavioral health organizations.

As time goes on I hope to see more and more groups like this one created to help curb opioid abuse. When motivated people from different avenues of life come together to educate the public and work towards a goal, change will happen.

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