Addiction is a social disease

Call it a wave, a craze or an epidemic, cheap heroin on city streets and in rural areas of Ohio has become too common, and too costly to ignore. Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth said alcoholism and drug addiction account for a majority of expenses to taxpayers for county jail services.

At the county child protection office, the number of children removed from homes in the current period is five times what it was a year ago, with drug addiction and heroin use in their homes causing the separations.

Many of those families, if not most, will never be re-united.

Yes, this is yet another call for broad reform of state and federal drug laws, sentencing guidelines, practices and treatment and rehabilitation services. It is not a call for law enforcement to fix the problem, or a plea for local, state or federal police agencies to better treat the consequences.

Law enforcement already has done it’s part, and stands ready to protect and serve. But alcoholism and drug addiction, first and foremost, are a social problem. Human behavior is not a law enforcement responsibility to fix or cure, but a society’s.

And drug addiction is much more complicated today than it was when President Richard Nixon launched the “War on Drugs.” There are a dozen times a hundred different medications, stimulants and relaxers, in addition to the cheap heroin in the streets.

It’s an overwhelming social problem.

Any meaningful reform must happen at the state and federal levels, with the cooperation and consensus of a broad coalition of professionals. Without support in Columbus and Washington, any chance at reform is doomed, and the War on Drugs will continue with the same results — a booming industry.

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