From today’s Pal-Item, local leaders are willing to try something different when it comes to helping people addicted to drugs.
We’re used to a lot of the rhetoric about drugs, drug addiction and related problems being focused on locking people up and getting them out of sight. The “war on drugs” has traditionally meant “get those people off our streets and out of our communities.” But many of “those people” are part of our community. They need help, and apart from some of the most violent offenders sending them to jail doesn’t usually help in changing the underlying environment in which drug sales and addiction have flourished.
So it’s refreshing to see statements that bring a little more nuance to the situation.
Statements that focus on outcomes instead of activity: “It doesn’t seem like many are being rehabilitated [in jail].”
Statements that encourage empowerment and personal transformation as a starting point: “The keys to the jail are in their hands.”
Statements that focus on the reality of the situation instead of unattainable ideals: “I don’t think the heroin problem is a problem where we can arrest our way out of it.”
Statements that acknowledge different people addicted to drugs need different kinds of solutions: “It depends on the circumstances and what’s going on with that individual.”
Yes, talk is relatively cheap and the hard work is ahead in the implementation, assessment, refinement and getting results.
But let’s applaud the public officials who are willing to say “maybe the way we’ve always done things isn’t working. Let’s try something different.” They’re sticking their necks out a bit to prioritize seeking real solutions over catering to what might be popular opinion, and that’s a small victory in itself.