Editor's note: This was written in response to the Mail Tribune's editorial Tuesday, July 24.
My family has been deeply affected by addiction. I understand the pain associated with loving an addicted person.
As a concerned citizen I wanted to provide my viewpoint in response to the editorial “Compassion over incarceration” July 24, as well as the many other articles that have addressed the opioid crisis recently.
For years now, many brave men and women have fought the “war on drugs” and, while they have battled gallantly, the impact on the supply of drugs in our communities has been minimal. The task is too great. Recently, an article titled “California FBI raid disrupted local supply” indicated that the FBI and MADGE had seized enough heroin to disrupt our local supply. That is success to be sure. However, the issue is that for years we have only been focusing on one side of the equation.
In economics, supply and demand is defined as the amount of a product and the desire of buyers for it. I believe we now have an opportunity to put the full-court press on drugs coming into our community. If we can make treatment free, immediate and readily available while reaching out to the chemically dependent with this information, we can greatly affect the demand side of the equation.
No one chooses addiction, no one; it chooses them subtly and they are suffering. We need to offer a hand up, a way out. While at the same time we continue to support the efforts of law enforcement to battle the supply side. The combination of this one-two punch will reduce the profitability of being in the drug trade and begin to reduce or eliminate the incentive for taking the risks.
We need to give our time, money and support to change both sides of the economic equation in the “war on chemical dependency.” Drugs and addicts are not the problem; they never have been. The issue is addiction with its vise-like grip on the addict and its fueling of chemical dependency. The cost to society from addiction is enormous, costing our community millions of dollars. Elimination or substantial reduction of this problem will solve the overcrowded jail issue, take immense pressure off the health care system and reduce homelessness.
We must support organizations like Foundations for Recovery, the ARC, OnTrack and many others as well as the police. We must lobby legislators for access to free, immediate treatment that is as easy to obtain as the drugs themselves. We must limit and monitor the amount of prescriptions for opioid medications.
We must believe that it is possible to eliminate drugs and addiction from our community. Now is the time to strike and to believe that we can win this battle. I believe that we can.
Leo Hull lives in Ashland.