Recently a local woman told me her adult child who grew up with my kids has become addicted to drugs. She bravely related her heartbreaking story of accidentally finding her child's stash, making it clear that the drugs could not remain in their house, and finally having to force her child to leave when they refused to dispose of the contraband.
What we didn't have to discuss (because it's understood) is that around here, drug and/or alcohol addiction is usually a death sentence. None of the methods you see being used to force addicts into treatment on television programs like "Intervention" will work locally. For example, if you threaten to cut off an addict's financial support, they know they can always earn plenty of money working in the drug business to support both themselves and their habit. If you threaten to end all contact with them, addicts here know they have automatic substitute friends and "family" within the local drug culture who will provide plenty of social support. (There is no social stigma regarding drug or heavy alcohol use or addiction here; in fact, it's quite the opposite.) If you are arrested, all you have to do is contact the right people and the charges disappear.
A well-respected interventionist who has published papers on the subject once explained to me that addiction is a progressive and ultimately fatal disease if not treated, just like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc. The expert said the condition often plateaus for various lengths of time, but if addiction isn't treated, it always gradually worsens. Since there are no effective ways to force people into treatment here, locals have to stand by and watch their loved ones slowly deteriorate. Worse, because addicts are so difficult to deal with, our rates of domestic abuse and violence, child abuse and neglect, truancy and drop-outs, and other social ills are sky-high and getting worse. Then there's the issue of impaired drivers around here, which is so severe that it probably warrants a separate discussion.
The intervention expert also told me that addiction is actually considered a highly treatable disease if you are able to get addicts into treatment programs. (One of the main symptoms of addiction is that it interferes with judgement to the point where sufferers can have severe symptoms and yet categorically deny anything is wrong with them.) Due to the situation here, however, that also means getting addicts far away because, although I believe there are some legitimate groups attempting to treat people in our area, the majority of treatment and 12-step programs I'm aware of appear to be, like so many things here, for show only. For example, I've been repeatedly harassed by supposed 12-step groups meeting at local churches (the same churches I've written about before that have far more income than they should, major computer facilities, secretive meetings, and heavy security) over the years. Wherever they meet, major functions of these groups seem to be an attempt to appear to be complying with court-ordered rehab. from other jurisdictions as well as an excuse for persons involved in drug trafficking and other criminal enterprises to meet for both business and social purposes. (I've accidentally walked in on these meetings several times, and I got an eyeful.)
I've said it before, I'll say it again, and I'll keep on saying it until the problems causing it begin to be seriously addressed: we are losing people here way too young and at an alarming rate because of the pervasive casual attitudes toward alcohol, illegal drugs, and criminal activity. I've read articles in major newspapers and magazines in the last few years about the tragic loss of an entire generation of young people in a certain small town to the west of us along I-10 due to either death or incarceration caused by the same kinds of attitudes and problems we have here. Coincidentally (?), certain members of the same very wealthy, powerful, and nationally prominent family (you would recognize their name immediately) happen to reside in both that town and ours, and my children and I have been harassed relentlessly by some of their family members over the years. (And yes, they are friends of my ex-husband's.) Ironically, in a strange twist of fate, I was actually born in a hospital in another state that bears this family's name instead of at the military base hospital where my father was stationed at the time (because my mother went into premature labor and was transferred to a larger hospital that had better neonatal care).
Because I believe people who criticize should also try to propose possible solutions, I'd like to suggest starting with thorough required drug testing by respected out-of-state laboratories for all local law enforcement officers, probation officers, first responders, and jailers. (Lie detector tests, although expensive, would be even better.) Then I'd require the same from all local professionals holding public licenses of any kind: teachers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, etc. (although, unfortunately, I'm not very optimistic about the State of Texas supporting this), both because these people are our community leaders that others look to and follow, and also because interventionists say the threat of losing their licenses makes it easier to force these people into treatment and gives them a higher rate of recovery.
I'm not exaggerating when I say that these are truly matters of life or death for our citizens (especially our young people) and our communities. Drug addiction has been described as the ultimate pyramid scheme: con as many people as possible into becoming addicted by making drug and alcohol use seem cool and popular and fun, because then you have all of their money for life and they are forced to bring in more and more participants to the scheme in order to survive. Proper law enforcement and treatment programs are the only ways to stop these deadly schemes. Both in combination have been shown to work extremely well at saving lives, but first they have to be present and they have to be legitimate.