Addiction in your community can do great damage to everyone involved, whether they are using addictive substances or not. The safety and well-being of all the citizens in your community suffer if addicts are not given access to treatment.
Addiction is a disease. Too often, it is seen as a sign of weakness and the addict is seen by society and by themselves as someone broken and not worthy of support. Treatment programs have limited beds and too often, jail is used as a detox center. Instead, law enforcement can help addiction sufferers by serving as a place for addicts to turn for treatment. This may include creating spaces for safe drug disposal and needle exchanges. As addicts come to understand that they are valued as human beings by community leadership and local service agencies, they may be able to reach out and seek help for underlying issues that are contributing to their addictive behaviors.
Lift and Serve
When people feel helpless in addressing their addiction, they often feel helpless in other aspects of their life. Those who suffer trauma and abuse early in their lives often struggle to feel empowered about improving their future. One of the main reasons that drug abuse and addiction, as well as other criminal activities, occur is because people feel powerless in their own lives, especially when they struggle with poverty. In a hopeless life, drugs can become a place of relief from the stress of poverty and the only source of joy that addicts can find.
Drug treatment is about more than just beating the physical addiction. Addicts often suffer from underlying mental health issues and may even suffer from chronic and painful physical ailments that promote drug use. As communities provide support to addicts working their way through the contributing factors that have led to drug abuse, we must also focus on education. Sr. Helen Prejean says that “Everybody’s worth more than the worst thing they have ever done in their lives.” Forgiveness is a grace available to all and people who want to address addiction in their communities will need to work to seek and out and connect to the person, rather than rejecting the addict. This is a revolutionary form of love.
Addicts are not criminals, miscreants or beyond help. Redemption, forgiveness and caring are gifts that Christians received long ago. To truly thrive in a Christ-centered life is to allow these gifts to be passed on to others who need them.
If you want to help, but aren’t sure where to start, check out these resources!