Police in Gloucester to get opioid users who turn themselves in into treatment, not a holding cell
Gloucester Police say the opioid crisis, which is killing large numbers of users, has convinced them to try treatment first instead of arrests. Starting in June:
Any addict who walks into the police station with the remainder of their drug equipment (needles, etc.) or drugs and asks for help will NOT be charged. Instead, Gloucester Police will walk them through the system toward detox and recovery.
"We will assign them an 'angel' who will be their guide through the process. Not in hours or days, but on the spot," Chief Leonard Campanello said.
Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester and Lahey Clinic have committed to helping fast track people that walk into the police department so that they can be assessed rapidly and the proper care can be administered quickly.
Also, the department has an agreement with Conley's Drug Store to make nasal Narcan, which can revive a dying user, available without a prescription at little or no cost. It's working with CVS on a similar deal. The department will pay for providing the drug through money seized from drug dealers.
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They should've done this statewide more than twenty years ago.
This is a public health issue, and countries and places that treat it as such spend a lot less and get a lot more.
The tears are literally streaming down my face...
Sensible, caring and compassionate drug policy from a Chief who has obviously seen for himself that the cold turkey in a cell method espoused by law enforcement in the past is utter nonsense.
Treat it as a disease and not a crime. Amazingly forward thinking. Kudos to this real public servant.
long term Rehab is tougher
Its nice to get addicts detoxed, but getting them completely away from all their drug using friends and surrounding problems is the much harder and more expensive problem to solve. Otherwise, addicts are in and out of detox and hospitals on a regular basis.
Drug use is a much bigger problem than traffic safety, killing more than twice as many people every year in Massachusetts, and thus where resources need proportional deployment.
Baby steps. This is
Baby steps. This is hopefully a step in the right direction because obviously the "war on drugs" doesn't work.
is much harder if you have a criminal record due to your drug use. That record will lock you out of a lot of jobs, living options, and so on.
This is great to hear
Drug addiction is a public health issue, not a criminal issue.
I am glad to read this
But something needs to be done on the supply side of this problem, too. I'm not saying emulate Indonesia, but long prison terms for the traffickers. But yes, for the addicts, this is a much better way of handling this.
but complicated topic you bring up. I can't do it justice in a uhub, but at least plant a seed. The stiff penalties for trafficking has been the lay of the land for a long time with pretty ineffectual result. The US is the major international narcotic market and so long as the sole purveyors of these narcotics are criminal enterprises with all the nasty violent intentions, the situation we have today is going to persist.
I see, broadly, three different ways of handling it from the supply-side: a) removing people from the market - pretty what is being done here, b) legalizing the less harmful narcotics, taxing them to fund a regulatory regime that ensure what is produced and consumed is not tainted by violence, and c) doing something similar for harder, more corrosive narcotics like heroin and opiates. Some countries like the Netherlands and Portugal have shifted from fighting drug usage to mitigating the societal effects of addiction - it sounds a little defeatist (and it is in a way), but providing long-time heroin addicts clean junk, clean syringes, and a safe place to shoot up has proven successful in both getting people off the street and away from violence and the criminal grind to support the addiction, made them easier to reach for health professionals and rehab specialists, and limited the market for people peddling non-"official" (yeah that sounds weird to me too) junk - I don't think it'll fly in the US, and I don't think that the US will ever fully stamp out drug-related violence, not at least when meth (the big money maker for many groups) is around, but there's a bunch of ways of attacking the supply side that aren't locking up traffickers who will be replaced by new young gun in the time it takes to blow your nose.
The EU (including UK)
and North America (U.S. and Canada) are the major narcotics importers, for obvious reasons; these are the most well off (for the average person) regions of the world, so people have or find disposable income for drugs more easily than poorer regions and countries.
how many years
Your theory has failed after decades of trial. End the demand.
Chicken and Egg Thing
Yes, end the demand, but it's not like most heroin users are born shooting up. Somehow they are introduced to the drug.
Look it like smoking. Yes, one is legal and the other is illegal, though the legal one is regulated to death (and I am not complaining about it.) There are several ways we keep smokers from starting or continuing. One of the key ways is to keep the price of the product high. Restricting the supply of heroin in the area would raise the cost high and prove a disincentive to use. Treatment would most definitely help people stop using.
We didn't have this heroin problem in the 1990s. I don't want to debate the geopolitical causes of the changes, but when it became more available and cheaper, our problems began.
Work on demand. Work on supply. Solve (or lessen) the problem.
EDIT- Cybah makes a good point below. We've been dealing with heroin since the 1960s to say the least, in ebbs and flows, with a high tide happening how. Of course, heroin in of itself in problematic, hence my hard stance on the drug.
I agree with what you post, however
Heroin was a big issue in the 90s, but not at the rate we see it today. I knew too many people in the 90s (in my hometown) who got sucked up in heroin very quickly.. long before the epidemic levels now.
However, much of the issue today started with opiates like Oxy Cotin. Remember before 9/11 it was the big news thing.. now we have an epidemic because of it. Many heroin users started out as people who needed pain relief, doctors gave out Oxys and Vicodin like they are candy, and the people got hooked. Then they switched to heroin because it was cheaper and easier to get than pills. So we can thank drug companies for starting this issue.
Boston didn't have a heroin problem in the 90s
The west coast, however, was soaking in it, particularly the Northwest and Pacific Canada.
Heroin was readily available around here. It wasn't as cheap as it was out there, but it was around.
The problem doesn't go away - it moves around. The most recent surge is oxy addicts making a switch due to enforcement on that end.
The only real success comes from treating addicts and making treatment readily available, on demand, with out delay. See also: Portugal.
The supply-side approach has failed forever
I have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating:
14 years ago, Portugal decriminalized all drugs, including heroin. How has that approach worked out?
It's not just Liberal fringe-dwellers who see benefits. Here is what the Cato Institute discovered when they looked at the results:
People caught with drugs get what amounts to a stern talking-to -- unless they work at a job where being impaired could put others at risk. Those users can be suspended from practicing their profession. Users might even lose welfare benefits. There are more details on regulation in the Wikipedia article.