Drug addiction and substance abuse have become interwoven with American society, and the depth of the issues it creates and leads to has very little bounds. The stigma against addiction that it is a moral failing creates a feeling of shame among those suffering from the disease, to a criminal justice system that arrests those in need of treatment to help with the disease.
According the Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health, in 2014 there were 47,055 drug overdose deaths in the United States.
This is not a problem that we can arrest our way out of, as many incarcerated do not have access to the proper treatment services, which leads to recidivism. It’s a cycle and this is a problem that needs priority from many levels, especially on the systemic level.
With an increasing accessibility to prescription and illicit drugs, a growing amount of money spent on marketing, healthcare and insurance coverage have come into question as many can not cover the cost of treatment out of pocket. The way opioids are being prescribed can be be described as nothing short of rampant. The stigma against medically assisted treatment that you’re substituting one addiction for another cuts off a possible plan to serenity for users.
Because addiction is a large public health problem, drug treatment is funded by local, state and federal government agencies. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a historical lack of or insufficient coverage for substance abuse treatment has curtailed the number of operational treatment programs.
Many treatment centers are also not receiving an adequate amount of funding to give them the resources required to run a successful treatment program. When people are addicted to drugs, it is more likely that they’ll have trouble maintaining and obtaining occupations, leaving them in poverty as they desperately pay for the drug, which in turns breaks families apart.
Fighting addiction and abuse takes funding and resources, something that we could be putting towards other issues if this one hadn’t reached the magnitude it has. The problems are here, in the now and aren’t going anywhere until we grow from our past mistakes and come up with new ways to combat them.
Written by: Keith Brown