I recently talked to a person who ran a drug clinic in a small city in upstate New York. She said that heroin and other opiate addictions were epidemic in her community. Almost 80% of high school kids were using heroin or other opiates, as well as a large percentage of other adults. It was “cool” and “in.” He said that treatment didn’t work: there was a very low rate of permanent abstinence. One reason for this was that heroin and other opiates often creates a neurological change in a person’s brain that, in turn, creates a permanent, uncontrollable desire for the drug.
However, even though treatment rarely works, prison or other jail time works even less. It places the addict in a dysfunctional environment where he or she is denigrated and alienated from the society. In this environment, he also gets involved with other addicts and criminals who influence him in a more dysfunctional and illegal lifestyle. If this weren’t enough, the addict often has an irrevocable criminal record attached to his resume that results in not only a stigma, but often a lifelong barrier to more productive and lucrative careers.
A basic contradiction in our whole prison system is that the goal is to rehabilitate “immoral” and “illegal” persons into persons who are law abiding and contributory. However, to do this, our government places the convict into a denigrating and dysfunctional environment, and then places a permanent burden on his back when he gets out.
However, on the other hand (and there is always an “other hand” – which we are calling the “antithesis”), the society needs some way to protect innocent and hardworking people from criminals.
So now we have this problem: we have a very serious drug epidemic and virtually no solution to it.
Here’s where you come in. Let’s all put our minds together and come up with some solutions. Write your solutions to this problem in the “reply” section of this article. Remember, our Nobel Laurite said, “The answers, my friend, are blowin in the wind.” And they are. Let’s just reach up and grab a couple of them.