Any person paying attention to the medical and social landscape in America can attest that drug policy is emerging as a major issue. The last decade or so has seen a shift in how the public perceives drug policy. Namely, drugs are no longer seen in all communities as a problem that should be dealt with in the criminal justice system. Marijuana reform has come to many states, and CBD oil stores are popping up in those states that haven’t yet formalized their marijuana reform policies. It’s routine to see discussions about the best ways to change the laws and provide treatment to people who are struggling. With this in mind, another trend has emerged. This has to do with better options for people who have drug issues.
Programs like Stout Street Foundation have pushed for common sense reform to help people who are struggling with drug issues. This would not have been possible in the past. Around 20 years ago, states were looking at drug offenders as a major problem. Laws were being passed to enhance punishment for these individuals, making sure they were put in prison as a direct result of any drug possession. While there are still many people who believe that drug users should be punished harshly, the tone is shifting. Organizations like Stout Street Foundation have been at the forefront in convincing the public that there is a better way.
Importantly, there has been some relationship between changes in drug policy and shifts in rates of drug use and addiction. It should not come as a surprise that in those places where drugs have been made legal, more people have become addicted to drugs and have begun to engage in problematic behavior. For instance, Denver addiction rates rank highest in the area, causing some to wonder whether drug reform has brought more problems than it has solved. Of course, whenever there are changes of this nature, and whenever new laws allow for drug proliferation, solutions tend to emerge, too. Good, smart people have been working in Colorado and elsewhere to develop help for people suffering from drug addiction.
What do those programs look like? Many of them focus on providing individuals with a safe place where they can heal from their drug addiction. One of the chief issues with drug addiction has to do with environmental factors. People who are addicted to drugs tend to be using them in order to escape from something or dull the pain from mental illness, physical health problems or some kind of psychological trigger. What today’s treatment programs realize is that if one wants to make sure that people are not using drugs, then one has to spend some time treating the root causes of drug addiction. This can mean getting people into a safe place where they can actually focus on their drug rehab rather than struggling in their old environments.
Seeing drug addiction as a health problem requires one to see it as both a mental and physical ailment. People who have an addiction to drugs tend to have a host of competing concerns that all combine to make drugs the true problem that they are. They tend to have anxiety issues, depression and other related mental health deficits. They tend to struggle with physical ailments that sometimes are compounded by a lack of available health care. This is why the best remedies for people suffering from drug addiction often include social fixes just the same. Understanding this is critical for any person who is going to try to shape social policy. Fortunately, in those places where drugs have become legal, the people working to provide these kinds of fixes have been doing overtime to ensure that the quality of solutions rises at a rate commensurate with the proliferation of drugs.
At the end of the day, many see the changes in drug policy in America as being a major step forward. They see fewer people going to jail and more people getting the help that they need. Rather than simply throwing people into prison where they will have more problems later, more states are figuring out that a combination of freedom and treatment is the best way forward. As more states contemplate how they are going to deal with drugs in the future, it seems likely that reform and quality treatment are going to go hand in hand in solving future problems.