Drug Abuse in the Community I Live In

The overwhelming problem of drug abuse in Decatur, Illinois has developed into a major issue. For example, Heroin, crack cocaine, powder cocaine, prescription opioids, marijuana, and meth are being sold and used at an epidemic rate. Some cities drug problems might be worse than Decatur’s, however, for the small size of this city, the drug abuse is phenomenal. Although some people might not see drug addiction as an illness, people are not drug addicts by choice, but after trying the drugs some people become addicted instantly. There have been studies conducted that support this. According to the Mayo Clinic, drug addiction is a substance abuse disorder. It is a disease that affects a person’s brain and behavior and leads to an inability to control the use of a legal or illegal drug or medication. (Mayo Clinic,2017).

The current Task Force Unit is made up of 2 Detective Sergeants, and 13 Detectives. They cannot currently keep up with the efforts to get these drug dealers off the streets. Why should the Macon County States Attorney’s Office go after the dealers instead of the users? The answer is simple, the abusers are not completely to blame because, according to the Mayo Clinic, after doing the drugs for so long they no longer have a choice. For these reasons, the Macon County States Attorney’s Office needs to invest more money and manpower into getting the drug dealers off the streets. The drug dealers should be punished, not the abusers. People are not drug addicts by choice, but after trying the drugs for the first time, some people become addicted instantly. For these reasons, the Macon County States Attorney’s Office needs to go after the drug dealers not the abusers Force unit is named The Street Crimes Narcotics Unit. This unit is conducted in shifts that change daily because of fluctuating disposition of the vice investigations. (Narcotics Unit, 2018) This Task Force, or Street Crimes Unit, While the Macon County States Attorney’s Office has started going after the drug dealers and not the abusers, they are not doing enough to get rid of the problem. When drug abusers are caught with drugs they should be required to give up the name and location of the dealers.

This should be a stipulation in lieu of not being prosecuted. The challenges I would face in trying to solve this problem are that most people do not see drug addiction as an illness. These people believe it is a choice and might not agree with me. According to a survey done by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, out of 709 people surveyed, only 22 percent of respondents said they would be willing to work closely on a job with a person with drug addiction compared to 62 percent who said they would be willing to work with someone with mental illness. Sixty-four percent said that employers should be able to deny employment to people with a drug addiction compared to 25 percent with a mental illness. Forty-three percent were opposed to giving individuals addicted to drugs equivalent health insurance benefits to the public at-large, while only 21 percent were opposed to giving the same benefits to those with mental illness. (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health,2014).

In an interview with Medical Research.com, Professor, Rita Z. Goldstein, PhD. Department of Psychiatry and Department of Neuroscience, at the Friedman Brain Institute, and (secondary)Chief, Neuro Psycho Imaging of Addiction and Related Conditions (NARC) Research Program, and Anna Zilverstand PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry the professors were answering questions with results from their actual studies of the brain and how drug addiction alters it. According to the professors Drug addiction is a disorder that encompasses not only excessive drug-seeking and taking, but also fundamental changes in cognition and emotional processing. (Medical Research.com, 2018). With studies being based on over 100 neuroimaging results published within the last 10 years, the findings show how substance abuse alters a person’s ability to control their capacity to maintain focus, their retention abilities, mannerisms, and choices they make. These results also show that after taking the drugs for so long the drug takers brains are revamped to need the drug.

Drug addicts did make a choice to try the drug, but some people become addicted immediately. After doing the drugs for so long they no longer have a choice. This is because their judgement is altered. They no longer have the ability to make rational decisions and often develop memory problems. For this reason, with the aid of the United States Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration, and other local and state law enforcement agencies, stings are set up randomly and initiated in Decatur. Even with these efforts it is not enough to stop the problem. The Macon County States Attorney’s Office needs to go after the drug dealers not the abusers. This drug abuse has been labeled an epidemic by Macon County State’s Attorney Jay Scott. (Lenny, Reid, 2017). In fact, Heroin was named the number one public safety threat with prescription drugs being right behind. Due to this epidemic of overwhelming drug abuse, the drug courts, and drug programs are full. This leaves the addicts with no available treatment options. There are other programs available, however, they are also full most of the time. Some of these facilities are Decatur Residential Treatment Program, which requires the patients to live at the facility while they are undergoing treatment. Most of these visits are short-term but can be longer if needed. Some other programs are Decatur Outpatient Treatment Programs and Decatur Drug & Alcohol Rehab, Detox & Treatment Resources. Unfortunately, these facilities are also full most of the time.

The Trump Administration is asking for stronger punishments for drug dealers. In addition, the U.S. Sentencing Commission has lobbied for tougher prison terms for those dealing in fentanyl, because it is more lethal than heroin. If we don’t get tough on the drug dealers, the president said in a recent speech, we’re wasting our time. (Casteel,2018). Trump has the notion that going after the dealers will limit the amount of drugs going to the abusers. The idea is to get the drug abusers help and not prosecute them. This article strengthens the claim that drug dealers should be prosecuted not the abusers. People get addicted to more than just drugs. Their brains are designed to make them want to keep doing things because they feel good. The brain produces dopamine, which causes an overpowering feeling in the pleasure center of the brain. Since it feels good they will want to continue doing it. This not only happens with drugs, but other things too! Some examples are sex, over eating, tattoos, and video games. Medical Research.com. had conducted an interview with Professor, Rita Z. Goldstein, PhD.

Department of Psychiatry and Department of Neuroscience, Friedman Brain Institute Chief, Neuro Psycho Imaging of Addiction and Related Conditions (NARC) Research Program, and Anna Zilverstand PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry. In this Interview, the Professors were asked questions about drug addiction. The Professors answered with results from their actual studies of the brain and how drug addiction alters it. The research evidence in these studies proves that people are not drug addicts by choice because drug addiction is a disease. For these reasons, going after the users is not the answer. Getting rid of the dealers is the only way to stop the overwhelming addiction /drug abuse problem. More money should be spent on the manpower needed to clean up this drug problem. Maybe starting a petition and sending it to congress to ask for support would be the answer to stopping the overwhelming problem of drug abuse in my community.

References:

Astrouski, J. (2018, May 17). Hooked: Opioid Battle in Illinois [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.wandtv.com/category/332022/hooked-opioid-battle-in-illinois

Brady-Lunny, E., & Reid, T. (2017, May 21). Led by heroin, illegal narcotics test law enforcement. Herald & Review Retrieved July 17, 2018, from website: https://herald-review.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/led-by-heroin-illegal-narcotics-test-law-enforcement/ article_fdd91978-5b46-57bc-9e68-991d35ad4e42.html

Casteel, K. (2018). In Science and Health: A Crackdown on Drug Dealers is Also A Crackdown on Drug Users. Five Thirty-Eight ABC News. ABC News Internet Ventures. https://fivethirtyeight.com/tag/drugs/20365112

City of Decatur Police Department (Ed.). (2018). Street Crimes Narcotics Unit [Fact sheet]. Retrieved July 29, 2018, from https://www.decaturil.gov/police/street-crimes-investigation-bureau/

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. (2014, October 1). Public feels more negative toward people with drug addiction than those with mental illness. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141001102346.htm

Mayo Clinic. (2017). Drug addiction (substance use disorder) Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Retrieved July 31, 2018, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/ diseases-conditions/drug-addiction/symptoms-causes/MedicalResearch.com

(Ed.). (2018, June 11). Major Brain Networks With Altered Brain Function In Individuals With Addiction Identified. MedicalResearch.com. Retrieved August 19, 2018, from website: https://medicalresearch.com/addiction/major-brain-networks-with-altered-brain-function-in-individuals-with-addiction-identified/42309/

NIDA. (2018, June 14). A Gene Links Impulsivity and Drug Use Vulnerability. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes/2018/06/gene-links-impulsivity-drug-use-vulnerability

on 2018, August 4 Voyles, R. (2017, December 2). Macon County opioid prosecutor to target dealers, but no one knows how many. Herald & Review, 1-3. Retrieved from https://herald-review.com/news/local/

Macon-county-opioid-prosecutor-to-target-dealers-but-no-one/ article_b84ddc9e-2265-5caf-a523-1c1be2414698.html Wolfe, D. (2016, July 6). I-TEAM: Opioid & Heroin Epidemic In Central Illinois. WAND 17 Retrieved August 26, 2018, from website: http://www.wandtv.com/story/32385451/ I-team-opioid-heroin-epidemic-in-central-illinois

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