Lawmakers have treated drug abuse as a criminal problem and moral failing for far too long rather than a public health crisis. We need to halt the flow of amphetamines and heroin into our streets, but we must also dismantle the stigma associated with drug use to encourage those living in the shadows of their shame to seek help in the light. Whether by expanding access to community support groups and other social safety nets or by meaningfully funding drug treatment and rehabilitation facilities, we cannot continue to incarcerate and institutionalize those facing authentic health problems.
We can no longer handle this issue reactively. We must be proactive. Investing in afterschool programs, recreational centers, and educational initiatives to foster awareness and offer alternatives to drug use is required.