Until recently, I believed that addiction was repulsive behavior that should not be tolerated. I believed that “those” people should be locked up and that the key should conveniently be misplaced indefinitely. Growing up with addicts for parents, I was resentful and I could not possibly wrap my brain around this horrible thing that ruined my childhood.
In a recent class, I had a professor that asked, “Who wants to grow up and be an addict? I can tell you with certainty that it is nothing that someone hopes for.” That got the wheels turning in my head and the question actually made a lot of sense to me. I started asking more and more questions and it became very clear to me that no one in their right mind would choose to be an addict. I believe that addicts are not in their mind. I believe that there are mental circumstances in which the brain is severely inhibited from their ‘stop’ button being triggered. When I look at my parents, it is so apparent that they are absolutely miserable. They may talk about how much they enjoy their life, but in reality, there is nothing glamorous and nothing to love when you’re addicted, other than your preferred drug that is. Only living for the next fix, stealing from whom ever they could, neglecting their children, and forcing us to watch the grueling withdrawal process when they were all out of things to pawn. Needless to say, Christmas presents didn’t stick around for long. Who would ever aspire for this life?
I believe that jail will not help these people because jail does nothing to rehabilitate the problem or treat the disease and that the cycle will continue, currently costing tax payers millions of dollars and the numbers are rising. I believe that it is inevitable that addicts will use and that to avoid the spread of AIDS, hepatitis, and a slough of other diseases, that they should be provided with clean needles and clean drugs.
I believe if our government supplied all of the substance addicted with their basic needs of housing, clothing, food, water, shelter, and even substances that it would cost far less than paying for their time in jail, their hospital fees, crime, corruption of our youth, homelessness, etc. I believe that addicts need assistance and that locking them behind bars is not a resolution to this condition that requires treatment. I believe that our nation should start taking proactive steps to remediate this problem, and not perpetuate it.