Editorial: Town hall focuses on more drug treatment
Drug addiction is a complex problem in the Tri-State and across the country.
It feeds personal tragedies, breaks down families, drives crime and violence and costs us all in a dozen different ways, from jail bills to stolen property to hospital care for drug-dependent babies.
But those attending a town hall meeting at Cabell Midland High School this week seemed to agree on one simple point -- there needs to be a greater focus on help and treatment for those who have developed a problem with drugs.
Certainly, sustained law enforcement pressure and prison sentences for those trafficking in illegal drugs are essential. But as long as there are people aching for pills, heroin, cocaine and meth, dealers will find a way to supply that demand.
"One thing that has become clear over the years is that we can't arrest our way out of this problem," said Matt Boggs, director of development for The Healing Place addiction recovery center in Huntington.
But providing more treatment is not a simple proposition either. That will require different strategies for different situations in our jails, in our homes and on our streets.
First of all, drug treatment needs to be tightly woven into the judicial and corrections systems.
"When someone is arrested for a low-level crime, it's imperative part of their sentence is rehab," said state Rep. Carol Miller, R-Cabell, who helped organize the meeting. "We need to put more money into rehab instead of jail."
Treatment programs also should be mandatory for those with drug problems who are already in jail, because too often when inmates are released they go right back to their old habits.
But communities also need more help and intervention for drug users before they are standing before a judge.
Many families know that their loved ones have a problem, but they struggle to find help or the means to pay for it. Nationwide, it is time for expanded insurance coverage for drug treatment.
Sadly, many addicts do not have that family support or access to health care beyond the emergency room. More treatment options must be provided for those who have no resources at all.
While each treatment strategy will come with a cost, most would agree that the public already is paying the price.
Investing in a broader system of drug prevention and drug treatment can only help reduce the crime, prisons and public assistance we all pay for and build a healthier, productive workforce and community.
The Herald-Dispatch welcomes your comments on this article, but please be civil. Avoid profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, accusations of criminal activity, name-calling or insults to the other posters. Herald-dispatch.com does not control or monitor comments as they are posted, but if you find a comment offensive or uncivil, hover your mouse over the comment and click the X that appears in the upper right of the comment. If you do not want your comment to post to your personal Facebook page, uncheck the box below the comment.