Ever hear clamoring about addiction reform and think to yourself “We should just lock them all away?” Are you frustrated with frequent media coverage about rising overdose rates, or appalled by mothers who leave their infants on train tracks because they was high on Flakka? What about Jessica Riffey who injected her 14 year old daughter and 16 year old boyfriend with heroin? Don’t forget fathers, after all Brian Smith poisoned his infant with vodka secreted in a baby bottle.
But guess what? Not every person sitting in a jail cell is a serial murderer. Not every addict incarcerated inflicts untold horrors onto the people who are closest to them. If we want to end preventable baby deaths with ties to addicted mothers, fathers, friends, and families we need to approach addiction from a new perspective. Because what we’ve been doing isn’t working.
Take Texas as a prime example, whose Justice Reinvestment plan for addiction treatment saved the Lone Star state $443 Million in 2015, while addressing rates of recidivism.
Wanting to change the landscape of addiction isn’t about raising pitchforks and accepting the media’s representation as the ultimate truth– it’s about getting educated, learning the ropes of the disease, and creating environments with community support, self help groups, and state funded resources for both people suffering with addiction and families and friends who know someone who is.
Regardless of what you believe about addiction, whether the disease is a “choice,” or not, you can still become the catalyst of change if you’re open enough to understand the problem for what it really is: 90% of all people with substance use disorders go without treatment.
You may not think it’s your position, or concern, to rally yourself to the plight of addiction and the effects it has on the people suffering from it– but ultimately their suffering becomes your own. When we are united against an affront which would have us all at the mercy of a compulsive disorder we are able to render aid when needed, protect ourselves, and help change the landscape of legislature to become more effective so the brunt of burden does not weigh so heavily on our shoulders.
Children learn to mirror the behaviors of their parents and pass along their lineage to future generations. If we want to eradicate addiction we cannot simply push the disorder under the rug, we must address all veins of abuse to ensure our entire nation is prepared and able to address it wherever it may surface.
This is an American responsibility. Whining about government and elected office doesn’t get us where we want to be. Only we can do that. Only communities can do that. Only states can do that. Our voices are louder than they want us to believe. We all have the ability. Everyone suffers from addiction.
Will you continue to turn your head from it?
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