Incarceration isnít a win for the ďwar on drugsĒ

There are drugs in Chenango County. Thatís no mystery to anyone, and itís nothing new. There were drugs here decades ago and drugs will never leave the area. Itís a supply and demand type thing.

In college I studied chemical dependency counseling. I was the only one in my class not in recovery. Part of the program included attending Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous and Al-Anon meetings. We even had to sit in on a Sex Addicts Anonymous meeting ... we werenít allowed to say we were there observing for school.

So yes - at a sex addicts meeting, ďMy name is Ashley and, uhhh, Iíd like to pass today.Ē Awkward.

Anyway, I learned quite a bit about the human condition. In addition I learned I did not want to pursue a state certification in that field.

I strongly believe we are all free to put into our bodies whatever we please. Itís self-ownership. You like sushi? Eat it. Youíre one of those folks who takes Tylenol every day just because? Knock yourself out. Marijuana gives you an appetite? Smoke it. I am in absolutely no position to tell anyone what they can do with their own body.

That being said, I know there is a heroin issue within our community. Heroin is cheaper than the Oxycontin (or Oxycodone), an addiction in its own right that often times gets the user hooked on the narcotic. Thereís also a whole lot of cocaine, both powder and rock. And of course thereís marijuana, and you canít forget the ever-popular, aforementioned prescription pills. There is absolutely no way to get drugs to leave the area. Thatís just something people need to face.

I am 24. The number of friendsí funerals Iíve attended I can count on two hands. As I sat here trying to count, I recalled the last time I saw each of those people and my eyes got watery (note, they were not all local folks). Drugs can latch on and take over, no doubt about it. Does a part of me wish I could have talked some sense into those people at some point? Sure. Would it have worked? Who can say.

Iíve heard people claim this is ďa sudden influx of drugs and druggies onto our nice small-town streets.Ē Now that is just ludicrous. Youíre trying to say there werenít drugs in Norwich in the 80s? The 90s? Give me a break. Itís just a little more ďout in the openĒ now. Yes, I will admit, needles on the streets are dangerous and disgusting. Donít touch them. Make sure your children know not to touch them. Inform your children about the effects of drugs.

As long as there are those willing to use, there will be those willing to sell. Itís as simple as that.

What I have a problem with are the folks who think throwing the offenders (who may very well be addicts) in a cage is the answer. Opinions vary regarding whether or not addiction is a disease. I say go ahead and debate all you want.

When you watch someone you love lie, steal and coerce to get their fix and then tremble, cry and contemplate suicide when withdrawing you realize that yes Ė it was absolutely a choice for that person to use, but something isnít quite working right in their brain. How is a jail cell going to fix that?

Itís not.

A jail cell is going to dry them up for a bit, and theyíll be back out itchiní to use. Theyíll get busted again, be charged fines and maybe serve some more jail time, and the cycle continues. Revenue for the courts at least Ė if the fines are paid.

I suppose what Iím suggesting is a local facility to care for addicts. An inpatient service for folks to get actual care; where they are treated as a human being and not a criminal; where someone can relate to their issues and help out in a genuine manner; where they arenít forced to wear county orange. Perhaps a place akin to the Addiction Crisis Center in Binghamton.

Our countyís drug and alcohol isnít cutting it. Outpatient doesnít work for those who are perhaps at the lowest theyíll ever be. A couple hours of group may help some, but it certainly wonít help the majority.

Could folks who have an earnest interest in helping those with addictions get together with their heads and resources and open something up? Iíd like to think thatís possible, but Iím not sure how the logistics of something like that would work. I certainly think it would benefit not only the addicts but the concerned community as a whole.

Jail doesnít help. Thereís supply and demand here in Chenango County. Outpatient doesnít work. If youíre legitimately concerned about the drug issue in the community, Iím sure there is something better than the current way things are operating.

Lock up a dealer and another one will pop up. There isnít a way to stop that here.

Incarceration isnít a win for the ďwar on drugs.Ē

To anyone currently struggling with addiction and is looking for help, see if you can get a bed down at ACC.

Iím not one to judge. As Iíve quoted in a previous column, Ludwig von Mises wrote, ďNobody is in a position to decree what should make a fellow man happier.Ē Itís your body, itís your choice. If you get sick of killing yourself quicker than the rest of us, reach out. There are hands that will grab on.

Iím 24 Ö and Iíve already been to too many funerals. If youíre finding yourself immersed in the drug culture and you feel deep down you donít want to be there, please get some help before you get snatched up and put in jail. I honestly donít think you can get quality help in Norwich, but there are some solid places in the surrounding areas.

Iíve been in an Albert Camus mood lately, so I could end this with a number of applicable phrases. Iím too indecisive for my own good, so Iíll go with this: ďMan is always prey to his truths. Once he has admitted them, he cannot free himself from them.Ē

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