In the past year, Indiana government officials have take a different approach to dealing with what has been called a statewide heroin epidemic, and an HIV crisis in southern Indiana counties. The new approach is different from past views and actions when it was believed that problems with drug abuse mostly impacted minorities. Now in Indiana white families of all socioeconomic backgrounds are finding heroin addiction impacting their families. The reaction now is not to blame drug abusers for not being able to control their demons. Instead the problem has been labeled an epidemic. Now the reaction is to educate people; provide narcan nasal spray to prevent heroin overdoses; and advocating "research" to understand how people get addicted. Governments are now allocating public funds to research what is called "mental health and addiction services".
The prior governmental response was to create a "war on drugs". That war proportionately was aimed at minorities. Arresting and locking up drug users who were minorities was the solution. Now a kinder, gentler approach is being advocated. I watched a local news feature on the alleged heroin epidemic in Indiana. It featured professional doctors addressing the problem, and contrite, sorrowful former addicts explaining how they got caught up in the use of heroin. The interviews were very positive in content and showed bright daytime backgrounds and well spoken people. The feature I saw only had interviews of white people.
Contrast that to past coverage of stories involving minorities involved with drug use. Those stories were often photographed at night with scenes of police arresting people with photographs of the drugs in the background. There was no talk of education, treatment or research. Instead it was put these evil people who lacked self control away in jails somewhere. That was the solution to the drug problem.
Punishment has now been replaced by compassion and assistance to keep the drug users alive.
The HIV epidemic in southern Indiana counties has resulted in programs to provide drug users with clean needles to use. Other compassionate responses are also being considered.
The change in approach is refreshing to some extent. But, I do question the reasons for the change. Is it because the problems are now impacting white people more than it did before? Indiana has historically been a conservative state except for the northwestern portion near Chicago, Illinois. Hopefully the change in approach is not based on the problem of drug use now spilling over into the mainstream citizenry in Indiana.
The underlying reasons as to why people turns to drugs should always have been addressed. Drug usage is a choice. But why is it a choice that many people turn to? Now maybe the dialogue and establishment of alternate paths has begun.