Over the past few weeks, there have been many newspaper articles about drug addiction, particularly to opiates, and its ever-increasing effect on our communities and state. It’s time to wake up! The debate about treatment versus interdiction has a long history, dating back to the Nixon era. Has it worked? I don’t think so, in fact it has gotten significantly worse over time. Certainly, law enforcement’s role in this is important, but to place a higher priority on this rather than treatment is shortsighted to say the least.

Our illustrious governor has stated that treatment for heroin addiction does not work. Since when did he become such an expert in the field of substance abuse? His limited scope of reality is not backed up with evidence. As usual, he shoots from the hip without facts to support his claims.

Yes, there are relapses and yes, treatment is expensive, but consider the alternatives. How many crimes are the result of addicts needing money to support their habit? How many blood-borne diseases, overdoses and deaths occur when there are not programs available to treat this insidious disease of addiction? If there are not programs available to people, hope, from their perspective, is also gone and the vicious cycle is never broken.

Having been a veterans counselor for nearly 40 years, I strongly support the need for increasing treatment in hopes of giving people the opportunity to be healthy, productive members of society rather than a drain on law enforcement, our courts, jails and prison budgets. Programs like Operation Hope, which is what the Scarborough Police Department has initiated, may give us all hope for a different future.

Roy Driver, MS, LCPC