DRUG WAR STRATEGY

                                         Part 1

                         Criminal Justice Strategy

Law Enforcement needs the necessary resources so they can conduct more effective Anti-Narcotic Operations.  All too often the police departments are forced to do the best with what they have, this results in too many arrests of lowly addicts instead of high-level narcotic distributers.  Our officers do an excellent job, however arresting petty drug offenders while major dealers continue to operate unscathed is frustrating and leaves the large supply of drugs on the street for distribution.  Given the proper resources departments are able to conduct meaningful investigations that target mid to high-level Narcotic distributors.  We need to work closely with the local law enforcement and county authorities to discover various state and federal resources needed to conduct substantial and significant investigations on higher-level individuals in order to truly make a dent in the world of narcotic distribution.  
        Incarcerating lowly drug addicts only crowds the jails and forces taxes to be raised in order to pay for a larger jail.  It also disregards the essence of addiction.  If addicts have a brain disease, imprisoning them without treatment is futile. In no way do I advocate giving anyone who breaks the law a free pass, however I believe we can be and should be trying new things to fight this problem.  Our officers are commendable and risk their lives each and every day.  Lets give them what they need to do their jobs more effectively.

                                                   

        ​                                                                           Part 2 

                          Addiction Recovery Options

       
We are all aware of the mighty struggles we face as a community when it comes to the horrible scourge of drug addiction. Currently there is little to no support at all in terms of treatment options in the area. For decades we as a community have incarcerated and or exported our addicted citizens, most of the time being non-violent youth and young adults who have fallen victim to the dangerous and ugly disease of drug addiction. Time and time again we have watched as those individuals we force into treatment outside of our valley return with a new outlook on life, a renewed commitment to a better and brighter existence, only to face the harsh reality that their community has zero transitional programs that would increase their chances of success exponentially. Try as they might more often than not the addict relapses and is again reprimanded and further incarcerated or made to leave their hometown again, sent to the scary streets of Tucson or Phoenix in order to seek some type of help. 
        Undoubtedly this is the vicious cycle that is the reality to hundreds if not thousands of our citizens in the Gila Valley. We have been quick to arrest and export our drug addicts and are surprised when they commit the same offenses over and over again, all the while offering no help or options. This must and will stop. Our aim is to open an Addiction Recovery Home or Sober Living Home that is a transitional house sometimes referred to in the industry as a halfway house.  The purpose of such facilities is to allow recovering drug addicts to begin the process of reintegration with society while still providing monitoring and support; this is generally believed to reduce the risk of recidivism or relapse when compared to a release directly into society.  We need to discover financial resources to make this happen.


                                                                                             
Part 3

            Eliminating The Social Stigma Associated With

                                       Drug Addiction

        
Addiction is a disease and most people have as little a choice to suffer from it, as a cancer patient has to suffer from cancer.  It is a disease, which due to the progressive nature of tolerance is characterized by accelerating compulsive drug use despite worsening personal, physical, social and psychological consequences.  Failing to stop isn’t driven by a mere lack of willpower. It’s driven by changes to the structure and function of brain cells that have morphed into a “new normal” requiring a base level of intoxication to function. Neuroscientists say that while people may start out using drugs to get high, tolerance leads addicts to continue to take drugs to avoid the terrible lows of withdrawal. The motivational power of the fear of detox outweighs all of the rational reasons, all willpower that ought to convince an addict to stop rarely can. 
        Threats of punishment like arrest and incarceration, hazards rational people would avoid, are largely useless in getting addicts to quit. That’s because it’s a disease in which the emotional motivational need for drugs far outweighs the threat of the negative consequences of drug use. This has a biological basis; the balance between the brain’s competing emotional and rational systems is altered by drug abuse, resulting in over-valuing the short-term emotional payoff of continued drug use at the expense of longer-term rationality.  If the brain is the core of the problem, attending to the brain needs to be a core part of the solution. Understanding that addiction is a consequence of fundamental changes in brain function means that a major goal of treatment must be either to reverse or to compensate for those brain changes. Criminal-justice strategies to curb addiction are missing at least half of the issue.  It is also a disease of the spirit and in my opinion the only real way to recover is to improve the spiritual condition. Once someone does achieve meaningful long-term sobriety we must be willing to truly give him or her another chance at life.  Business owners and leaders must be willing to overlook ones checkered past as long as their present and future are bright.  Too often employers immediately disqualify an applicant based on the checked box indicating criminal history.  The fact that someone made mistakes in their past should not be the sole reason they are turned away.  I am not suggesting hiring someone who is unqualified however we need to stop the practice of automatically throwing out an application solely based on past criminal indiscretions. 
        In order for an individual to experience true healing they need to be able to progress in life and we have the obligation to extend a hand up, not a free handout but a strong helping hand.  It is unacceptable to think that law enforcement strategies alone are the answer to our drug problem.  In fact it is but a fraction of what should be an overall comprehensive strategy to curb drug addiction and bring healing to our community.  It is my opinion that continuing to conduct business as usual will result in tragic consequences.  Things are bad now but you cannot imagine how catastrophic they will get unless we take action right now using the strategy that I have just outlined.  God Bless Us All. 



         
                                                   Chris Taylor

                        EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR