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Addressing the Opioid Crisis

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Opioid abuse is a public-health crisis that we ineffectively and inhumanely treat as a law enforcement issue. I know it first-hand – my brother lived many years afflicted prior to his death at age 51. There are economic and social issues feeding this epidemic that we must address, but before and above all else, we must ensure that our fellow Americans in the grips of addiction get the help they need and that their families and communities are supported.

Although the opioid crisis has wreaked havoc on communities of every class, color, creed, and corner of this country, it has been particularly hard on communities already suffering from years of neglect. Opioid abuse is nothing new in many areas, but the scale of the epidemic is staggering and the modern variants of common street drugs are more dangerous, addictive, and lethal than ever before.

Local governments are desperate for resources and guidance in the fight against this scourge, and it’s long past time the Federal government delivered help. It is time for the government to view drug addiction primarily as a serious medical epidemic and not strictly as a law-enforcement issue.

It’s time to modify our approach, and support our law enforcement agencies with proven solutions like medical training, extensive research, and non-criminal approaches to non-violent, low-level offenders that free up law enforcement to focus on real criminal threats facing our communities, not repeatedly arresting and locking up low-level addicts stuck helplessly in the cycle of poverty and addiction.