As it becomes more apparent that heroin addiction is taking many states by storm, the way state governments approach handling the fight against this dangerous drug has never been more important. It has brought more issues to the table and forced some legislators to consider things they wouldn’t have previously.
In the past, more of a hard line approach has been taken when it comes to drugs and addiction in many areas. Incarcerating people caught with small amounts of drugs, or caught with drug paraphernalia has always been commonplace, but now opinions are changing. Some people are starting to speak out against these practices and pointing out that this does not help addicts, and in some cases actually escalates substance abuse issues.
One of the major differences that is being expressed is the need for states to have Good Samaritan Laws. These laws allow other addicts to call emergency services and the police if one of their companions goes into a drug overdose. In the past, addicts had to worry that they would be arrested for possession or being under the influence of an illicit substance.. With more and more law enforcement agencies and other first responders starting to carry doses of Naloxone (a drug that can reverse the effects of an opiate overdose), Good Samaritan laws are more important than ever before.
Another topic that is being discussed is the idea for needle exchanges programs and other harm reduction strategies. Needle exchanges are facilities that are set up to take old, used needles from addicts and supply the addicts with clean needles. This controversial practice has gained more attention now that many are seeing this as a forum for getting addicts into treatment and minimizing the diseases that get passed from one addict to another because of needle sharing.
“This is about saving lives. Since 1971, we’ve engaged in this war and we’ve learned a lot of painful lessons. They don’t do us much good if we don’t do something different to attack this problem,” explained Kentucky State Rep. John Tilley about changing the plans of attack on the heroin problem.