We all learned about the effects of illegal drugs in health class, from TV and parents.
We’ve watched fictional drug addicts on anything from Orange is the New Black to Elementary.
We all know that drugs are bad, and drug dealers are even worse. We want both off the streets and away from kids.
In those worst-case scenarios, a teenager becomes addicted to drugs. He or she gets arrested for drug possession and then has a criminal record.
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He or she still has the addiction, so the problem doesn’t get better; it usually gets worse. Death or jail time most likely will follow.
But instead of that scenario, what if the teenager got help and wasn’t arrested? He or she goes to a treatment facility and recovers from the addiction. No addiction equals no drug problem.
The latter scenario is the better avenue for the teenager.
The Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative and the Grapevine police department agree.
The department will join the initiative, a nonprofit organization designed to “to fight the war on drugs by doing something about the demand, not just the supply,” the organization’s website says. “Under [PAARI co-founder Leonard Campanello’s] plan, drug addicts who ask the police department for help will be immediately taken to a hospital and placed in a recovery program. No arrest. No jail.”
Grapevine is the only city in Texas involved in the nationwide program.
“Police officers often found themselves arresting drug addicts as much, if not more so, than drug dealers and traffickers,” the PAARI website says. “In most cases, the addicts were only guilty of possessing an illegal, life-ruining substance and they faced arrest, prosecution and prison terms.”
Out of the more than 1.2 million drug arrests in the U.S. in 2014, about 83 percent were for drug possession, says an FBI report.
Around 80,000 of those arrested for “drug abuse violations” were people under 18 years old. About 15,000 arrested were under 15.
More police departments should take the approach to treat the addiction instead of arresting the addict. It’s a better way to stamp down the drug epidemic.