I believe that we need to treat the opiate issue as a public health crisis, expanding our access to Narcan, protecting addicts and those who come forward to report overdose or addiction, providing robust end-to-end treatment services that include ongoing support such as job training and placement and social activities to draw users away from the isolation that can lead to relapse.
This is the single biggest problem facing Elyria with no close competition. It's happening more often than ever with no sign of slowing down. There are a lot of ways we can intervene, though:
- Treat it as a public health issue. Make sure nobody fears seeking assistance for themselves or others, be it an overdose or just an attempt to get clean. Addiction is a disease, not a crime.
- Educate the residents about the above. I've seen too many people talking about how they'd never "enable" someone with naloxone. We're talking about a human life. We need to do better.
- End-to-end solutions that detox, rehab, prepare, and follow-up to keep a recovering addict clean. Progressive methods, robust solutions, and compassionate treatment.
- Expanding on the distribution and training for adminstering naloxone to someone experiencing an overdose
- Finally, as other cities have found, cannabis can help recovering addicts stay clean, so I would introduce legislation like that of Toledo which reduces fines and jailtime for cannabis to zero. It was worked well for them and other cities across Ohio, so there is no reason to oppose it here.
Criminal justice solutions are never going to work. When the working class has it rough and there's not enough jobs to go around, there will always be someone willing to distribute and get paid, and we can't prosecute our way out of that reality. Education, compassion, treatment, and progressive options for staying clean will beat enforcement of the law every time.