Addicts and Police

When you look back through history and see just how much alcohol people ingested through the ages, the truly remarkable thing is that we have any sober people at all.  We know at least the tendancy toward addiction is genetic.  How many of you have an acoholic in your family?  I have nearly as many addicts in my family tree as I have family members.  It would be easier to say who in my family does not have a drinking habit? (Me.  By the way.)  I’m hardly a history professor, but I’ve read enough to know that very little water was drunk through the ages due to our penchant for polluting it.  Thus, alcohol.  You gotta drink something, right?  Everyone drank beer, ale, wine.  And so we have drunk through the eons. Surely the desire for alcohol never wanes.  Just look at Prohibition and The War Against Drugs.  I think that desire is  trait handed down through your family tree.  Anyway, that’s my theory, and I’m sticking to it.

That being said, we need to expand the federal, state and county run health departments to include being notified when an addict or apparently mentally disturbed individual gets involved with police.  If you live with an addict (I hate that word) or a person with mental illness (hate that phrase too) long enough the police will become involved eventually, whether in the form of a DUI and a night in the ‘drunk tank’, an arrest for theft or dealing, or worse, having the police take that often unwilling person you love to a mental health facility.

Each of these places treat the addict the same.  The police bring the addict to the hospital, in handcuffs.  and having the nurses behind bullet proof glass doesn’t exactly fill one with a sense of security-it’s impossible to smuggle in a notebook, let alone a gun.  The medical staff is over-worked, under-paid, and often un-kind.  The food is lousy, the exams by the doctor as brief as 2 minutes.  And then they sit, or walk.  Twice a day for 15 minutes they are allowed onto a tiny cement patio.  There are a couple of rusty benches, a few plastic chairs.  If the ward is full, it can get crowded, smokers and non-smokers shoved together.

Sorry, but WTF?  These people are not employees who are required by law to be permitted two 15 minute breaks.  These are ill people.  People with problems.  Granted certain restrictions must be imposed, but They must realize that for some addicts, their healing is vastly improved by pleasant surroundings.  Not stark walls, full of dents and large dirty smudges, and bullet-proof glass.  They have a small common room with a 12″ TV that no one knows who controls whats watched.  There are old magazines.  It must be where doctors’ offices send their old magazines.  Offering other diversions include the latest fad, coloring books (which I attest do give you some ’empty brain’ time). The only items provided are the nubs of crayons, apparently a donation from the local pre-school.  It doesn’t seem wise to have 30 bored psych patients.

The only hurdle, of course, is getting the decision-makers to admit this problem exists and finding the funds.  Think what a boom this would create.  We need thousands of new nurses, with new certification requirements of a specialty in psychology.  We must form an independent entity, call it: Psychological and Addiction Assistance.  This entity would oversee the training of peace officers.  Creating a  Sub-Police (for lack of something better).  I’d think a force equal to 1/3 of the police force of each city.  They will be trained to intercede when notified by police.  The police will also need some additional training on learning to recognize they are dealing with someone unstable.  There should never have been an incident like the death of Kelly Thomas at the hands of Fullerton police.  There should never be another one.

We ask a lot of our police.  We hold them to a higher standard, yet they are just people like the rest of us, just trying to make the world better.  That’s why I suggest the DEA be re-trained on not arresting addicts.  I agree, there is some good the DEA does, but they should concentrate on the Cartels, not pot farmers.  Come on, how hard is it to find a 30 acre plot of cannabis?  Shouldn’t they work harder to find people like El Chapo, and spend less time busting 65 year old hippies in Northern California?

8 thoughts on “Addicts and Police

  1. It’s been a long time since I’ve had the brain capacity to keep up with all my favourite blogs. (I’m sure you of all people will understand, and I don’t need to type up an explanation! 🙂 ) Anyway! I’ve gone back in time to read and catch up.

    You ask what is wrong with this picture, and rightfully note that it should be done differently. But the problem is: we don’t build well-staffed healthy facilities because I don’t think healing or helping is the goal in this case. How can it be? It seems like the facilities we’ve created are the bare minimum for us, as a society, to be able to say “well, at least we didn’t leave them out on the streets,” and feel less guilty so we can move on to something more interesting.

    If improving the health of patients was the goal, things would naturally be different.

    Hospitals used to also be wretched. I wonder what changed them? I’d have to do some research to find out.

    My thought on this is cyncical, but probably practical: make it worth money somehow. It’s the only thing that causes change in the world of big corporations or organizations or businesses such as one that would be running a mental health facility, is to hit them in their pocketbooks.

    1. I know what you mean. I have a terrible time keeping up with my fave blogs. Here I am retired, and seem to have less time to get things done? Wonder where I’m going wrong? lol

      I must agree with your cynical side (and mine) that the only change is money. I think hospitals changed when rich people were solicited for donations. But that was at the turn of 19th century.

      People are different now. The people who would like to donate don’t have the money, and those with money don’t care.

      Especially when it comes to mental health. People still treat mental illness as a personality flaw, something we could change if we only tried.

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