By Phil Miller
Several weeks ago, the state of Indiana released their opioid/heroin epidemic plan as “A Strategic Approach to Addressing Substance Abuse in Indiana.” The document links for the plan along with the action steps involved are listed below. There are 19 pages of government speak here and I won’t take the time to address all of it. I’d like each of you to read them and develop your own thoughts. Following is my take on the new official state policy.
The plan is a step forward for addicts that are ready and willing to get off the drug. Facilities and personnel are being put in place to assist those people. Unfortunately, where the money is coming from for this effort is not documented. Additionally, very clearly the Drug War is not over. If nothing else, they are increasing efforts going after sellers and manufacturers of illegal product and even of a prescription product.
There is provision for users to walk into a police station and ask for help with no retribution. My immediate concern was that if you voluntarily come for help, even to the social system side, will you still be involved with the justice system at some point. I asked my local probation officer. The response was “I have people all the time calling me for help. I refer them to various locations in the hope they never appear before the Justice system. The Justice system does get involved quite a bit in Hancock County, but it is because we offer so many treatment options. I am always in favor of a person seeking and getting the proper help without involving the criminal justice system.” Not addressed is a local officer insisting on knowing where the drugs came from and using jail time based on with-holding information as a threat. That is a concern and a likely big reason that people will not use the new programs.
The weakest point of the plan is for those that aren’t arrested or don’t really want to give up the drug. Those are the people that have been most likely to overdose and possibly die. I don’t see the numbers of deaths due to overdose dropping dramatically.
I applaud the state for making some changes to help some of those addicted but I really don’t see a big improvement in a large reduction in drugs overall or in keeping people alive.