[Michigan, Jan.10, 2022]:
Opioids addiction is a true challenge to our society. Not a single community or neighborhood is free of the slow death machine that is victimizing people on a daily basis, claiming innocent lives.
We all recognize the increasing danger of drug addiction that invades households and entraps our youths. It’s clear beyond any doubt that opioids are a pandemic that continues to spread non-stop. Sources, suppliers, and ways to obtain and solicit it are countless. Law enforcement agencies are not struggling to illegal sale of opioids. Just like with all social problems, law enforcement alone can’t do the job. It’s a mutual responsibility between the public, especially impacted families, and law enforcement agencies at all levels.
This is a three-alarm fire. Unfortunately, many parents, especially in Dearborn and in other cities within the Detroit area, do discover their children’s addiction at a late stage. Addicts become very creative at getting the money to buy the drugs. It’s a race with time. It’s a race between life and death. We either let opioids control our youths’ lives or we break the silence and seek real solutions.
Dearborn is one city facing this challenge. We call upon Mayor Abdullah Hammoud of Dearborn to make fighting opioid addiction a priority for his new administration. We need an all-hands-on-deck approach addressing this challenge. It will be ideal if Dearborn and its neighboring cities put forth a joint drug crisis response team and plan of action to fight this epidemic.
One obstacle to fighting this epidemic is cultural. Many families are reluctant to speak out and seek professional assistance to help save their children. Many are concerned with a misplaced concern over family name and reputation in the community. Many get intimated by their own children who become in control. Many fears for their children safety and worry about retaliation of the drug dealers. These are legitimate fears that cannot be ignored or be taken lightly. An effective approach will take into account this cultural obstacle.
The victims of opioids become slaves to the drugs and the suppliers. Those who uses drugs become very loyal and protective of each other. The drug user bond with other users becomes stronger than the bond with family in many cases. One key obstacle that parents face is the lack of legal authority to force treatment for their children who are 18 years of age and older. The age will keep the parents helpless and hostage to their ability to convince their son or daughter to accept treatment. Parents can’t force treatment unless the person is a threat to themselves or others. Does it really have to reach that late and dire stage for forced intervention and treatment? Do we really want those who can be saved in an earlier stage to reach this serious life-threatening situation for the parents to be able to force the much-needed treatment?
Something is not right here. Something must be done here. Parents and families should have the power to force treatment on their young adults and not wait for the situation to reach a dangerous level to be able to force the right help. The existing legal system allows the victims of opioids to have the upper hand and be in the driver’s seat. This is not about who to be in charge or not. This is about the ability to save lives before it’s too late. Time is overdue for our local, state and federal law makers to revisit the existing laws and regulations related to this local, state and national challenge.
No one is naive to assume that there is a magic and fast solution to stop or contain the spread of opioids and drug addiction. However, that is no justification to keep matters as is. With all the good done by the law-enforcement and the rehabilitation facilities, numbers are drastically increasing. The numbers on waiting -lists are scary. This challenge is reaching a very alarming level.
Opioid’s challenge is our collective responsibility. Time is due for more effective collaborative effort to help save our youths’ lives, especially during this Covid-19 crisis that has worsened the mental state of many It is up to us speak out and ask for assistance. Living in denial is a gateway for death and losing the loved-one.
No one can truly understand the heavy toll of opioid addiction except the victims and their families. Families go through trauma, confusion, fear, and frustration. They live with fear, moment by moment and day by day being gravely worried about the uncertain and the unknown. In most cases they feel helpless and hopeless. The way the law is today is part of the problem and an obstacle to early intervention.
The choice is ours. We can either surrender to the epidemic or we can reimagine our war with the addiction. The choice is ours to make.
Imad Hamad, AHRC Executive Director
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