Drug addiction is like any other disease. It requires a proper diagnosis and treatment for the person who is living with the addiction to be able to free themselves from their addiction.
The problem is that it is not treated as one would treat a another disease i.e. heart disease or cancer. Depending on the person who is suffering from drug addiction, they are at best enrolled in a detox program and at worst, put in jail.
Last week, singer and television star Demi Lovato had an overdose after being sober for a number of years. In addition to issues with drug abuse, she also suffers from mental illness.
Her overdose sheds a spotlight on the fact that drug addiction, despite being an illness, is not treated as an illness. For many (especially people of color), the common treatment is jail time. Ms. Lovato has the cushion of not only being white, but also being a famous performer. I’m not an expert in the law or addiction, but common sense tells me that instead of putting these people in jail, we should be treating them for their disease. Keeping them in jail only exacerbates the problem and makes it harder for them to return to every day life once they have completed their jail sentence.
I’m not a fan of Ms. Lovato, but I wish her well in seeking treatment for her disease.
It’s no secret that drug abuse and drug addiction is a plague on our society. Countless lives have been lost and/or destroyed to drug use or addiction.
Last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city would soon be opening a handful of safe injection sites in various neighborhoods. The purpose of these establishments is not to encourage drug addiction and abuse, but to save lives. Those who choose to enter will be given clean needles and access to trained medical professionals who will provide the overdose reversing medication naloxone to those who overdose. Information about treatment options will also be available.
I can understand why some would argue that these sites only encourage illegal drug use. But I disagree. I disagree because there are too many people overdosing and dying for no reason. If someone overdoses while inside of one these establishments, not only will the staff able to revive them, but they will be encouraged to seek help. The easy way out of combating drug abuse and addiction is prison. But that has proved to be a fruitless solution that mingles with other issues to create a larger problem. What is needed, from my perspective is not only medical treatment, but an understanding of why people seek out illegal drugs.
Only then, can we fight a winnable war.