Rehabilitate Rather Than Incarcerate To End Opioid Epidemic
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Health and Wellness

Rehabilitate Rather Than Incarcerate To End Opioid Epidemic

We can't arrest our way out of this epidemic.

Rehabilitate Rather Than Incarcerate To End Opioid Epidemic

Pain might not kill you, but painkillers will.

With the rapid increase in the use of prescription and non-prescription opioids in the United States, drug overdoses have significantly increased. Around 64,000 deaths in the US in 2016 were the result of drug overdoses, particularly through the use of opioids. Thus, with the lethality of these drugs, the opioid epidemic has been declared a public health emergency. So, why is it that there has been more of an emphasis on incarceration than rehabilitation on the agendas of lawmakers?

We cannot arrest our way out of this epidemic.

With painkiller prescriptions killing more than three people a day in North Carolina and around 170 Americans dying each day to overdose, there is clearly a need for treatment. Efforts being taken such as implementing safe injection sites, medication-assisted treatment, and syringe exchange programs are crucial to ending this epidemic because they are first steps for users to work towards changing their lifestyles, and not ineffective or perpetuating the drug problem as some might argue.

Solving a public health crisis through a health-based lens is the most logical way to go, yet recent legislation has been passed to increase fentanyl-related penalties, with the death penalty for selling fentanyl even being an option on the table. What many people forget to acknowledge is that often times drug dealers are drug users, and are dealing mainly to fund their addiction.

In general, people have a tendency to stigmatize users rather than empathize with them. Stigmatizing drug users and addiction makes people less willing to reach out when in need and perpetuates the problem. Rather than judging these people for their past behavior, help them work toward having better future actions and changing their lifestyle.

Obviously, the opioid epidemic is going to take time to combat but through rehabilitation rather than incarceration, lives can be saved, jail populations can reduce, and the drug stigma can lessen.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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