What’s Being Done to Handle the U.S. Drug Addiction Problem?
There’s a lot of focus on how bad the drug addiction scene is in the U.S. It seems that things are getting worse and worse. And, in a way, they are. I read and write about it every day. But I also read about more and more communities across the U.S. pulling together to do something about it and there are ever-increasing resources available for someone who’s on drugs and their families to get help. Here’s a round-up of the type of things being done.
- Law enforcement officials are focusing more on dealers than on users.
Today I read an article about law enforcement officials in an Indiana county working on getting drug dealers off the street and into prison. In the last few months, they’ve taken 42 drug dealers off the street, and they still have another 10 to go in this specific operation. One of the people who commented on the article said that getting rid of drug dealers won’t do anything to handle addiction. I disagree.
Sure, there are lots more drug dealers and, for now, most of their customers will find somewhere else to get their drugs. But 52 people no longer on the street selling drugs to others in one county is nothing to sneeze at. There’s no info on how many people those dealers sold to, but even if they only had 10 customers each – and you can be sure some of them had 50 or 100 – that’s still a significant number of addicts who’ve lost their source for whatever drugs they were buying. And eventually it will make a big difference. At the rate that one county is going, thousands of people would lose their source every year. And, again, that’s just in one county of one State.
- Help for users is accelerating in the law enforcement community.
Starting in Gloucester, Massachusetts, police opened their doors to help addicts. If someone brings in their drugs, they’ll get help getting into a treatment center immediately. With no arrest. No danger. Just help. Now, hundreds of police stations across the country are doing the same. Many of these programs help hundreds of addicts every year. If there were more police stations doing that – and, by the way, fire departments are starting to do it too – they would reach many more.
- Local government is getting more involved.
Every day you can read about Mayors, Council Members, Senators and other officials declaring their own war on drugs. But the wars don’t involve punishment. Instead, they offer help. More programs that help addicts, more drug rehab centers, more beds being made available for long-term residential treatment – the most successful of any programs.
- Hospitals are starting to take more responsibility for addicts who come to the ER with drug-related injuries and overdoses.
Addicts used to be simply treated for their injuries or prevented from dying and then go back out on the street and, usually, do the same thing over again. Now, many hospitals offer counseling and encouragement to get into drug rehab. Some are even opening rehab facilities in the hospital where the person who came to the ER can get immediate help.
- Prescription drug monitoring programs are now being utilized by pharmacists and doctors.
These programs consist of a computer database that has a record of everyone’s prescriptions. A doctor or pharmacist can check this database to ensure the prescriptions being filled are reasonable for the patients’ diagnosis. Not as many doctors use this database as one would hope – they say it takes too much time to check computer systems, and they don’t get paid for that time – but some States have even made checking the database mandatory. And I expect we’ll see more of that. These programs enable physicians and pharmacists to help get someone into drug rehab. They also help locate drug dealers who go doctor shopping – going from doctor to doctor complaining of pain they don’t have so they can get more and more drugs and sell them to others.
- Pill mills are being located and shut down.
Pill mills are doctor’s offices and clinics that give a prescription to anyone who walks in and asks for it. Many have been located and shut down. This is just one example of doctors who overprescribe being located, shut down, and even prosecuted.
- Community groups are forming to get more involved.
One I read about last week, for example, helps address the fact that when an addict asks for help, through whatever avenues, there often is nowhere for them to go. No beds available for weeks or months. What usually happens under those circumstances is that the addict who got himself up to the point of reaching for help goes right back into the street and never comes back. The particular program I read about offers interim help to those people so they are not sent back out on the street with no resources. This group offers various ways to keep the addict on track, and maybe even get them through withdrawal, until they can get into a program that offers full rehabilitation.
That’s just a sampling of what’s going on across the country that’s actually helpful. There are also a lot of things going on that appear to be helpful, and may be on the short-term, but in the end don’t help someone get truly rehabilitated and drug free. And there are things contributing to the drug problem that might as well be being ignored. In fact, some of those things are contributing to the drug problem more than any others. But that’s the subject of another blog.
If you need help for yourself or someone else, check with your community and law enforcement officials to see what’s available. Just find and contact one group, and they will know about others.
If you would like to get someone into rehab now, call us at 855-895-2090. We have done the research on and have detailed information about the best drug rehab facilities across the U.S. and can help you get the help you need.