I am writing in response to Dan Rodricks’ timely column on the fentanyl overdose epidemic (”Fentanyl deaths: America’s epidemic worsens in the pandemic. What do we do about it?” April 20). He offers several constructive solutions to provide treatment and decrease criminal justice warehousing of low level offender which would be a great start.
On a state and national level we need to the end the “War on Drugs.” In case people are wondering, the drugs have won. Substance use disorders result in chronic changes in brain structure that make it next to impossible for sufferers to “just say no.” The addicted brain is not logical. Treatment works, punishment does not. The U.S. mindset of “if only we punish these people hard enough, they will see the error of their ways and quit” harkens back perhaps to our puritanical roots, but defies logic and years of evidence to the contrary.
It is time to disassemble the failed war machine and instead put resources into treatment and rehabilitation. Consider, as an example, another chronic health problem, diabetes. We don’t lock people with diabetes up for eating doughnuts. Substance use by persons with substance use disorders is a manifestation of their problem, not a rebuke to society. It is time to look forward for more constructive solutions to this growing problem.
Janet Beebe, Upper Marlboro
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