Drug addicts make the choice to swallow, snort, or inject drugs. But the assertion by the writer of the June 15 Readers’ Forum letter “War on opioids must be waged” that most addicts will experience multiple relapses during treatment is a non sequitur.
Recovery can be a lifelong struggle for some people, but there is no rule that says a recovering addict must relapse. Even if an addict has to try more than once to stay clean, that doesn’t mean the money for treatment was wasted.
Treatment is less expensive than incarceration, and the future for a recovering addict is much more promising than what a clean convict faces upon release. Of course addicts must take responsibility for their choices. But what’s wrong with helping them to make better choices?
It’s understandable that a police officer sees the drug addiction crisis from a different perspective than that of an addict or treatment specialist. But a refusal to acknowledge that the war on drugs has been a failure ensures that the scourge of addiction will continue.
Taxpayers should ask why their money continues to be used to lock up nonviolent drug offenders. Because of economic belt-tightening by governments, funds that would have gone to treatment and prevention programs have dried up or are used for other priorities.
Money that is invested in prevention and treatment will have a much larger return in saved lives and productivity than incarceration.