Addiction To Heroin Should Be Treated As A Serious Mental Illness: Make Mandatory Treatment A Requirement

addict-2713620_640My concern with homelessness is that most people are addicted to some form of alcohol or drugs, or both.  Many videos I have watched on homelessness report that a growing addiction of the homeless is to fentanyl, an opiate that is 50 times stronger than heroin where the addicted must use in order to keep from feeling sick much more often than if they were on heroin. 

This is the reason why drug pushers want to get people hooked on fentanyl, so the addicted buyers have to buy their fixes more often or they begin feeling sick and going into withdrawal, needing a hit to feel better again.  The drug pushers are now putting fentanyl into heroin to get their customers hooked on fentanyl and keeping them coming back much more often.  This is very expensive and the homeless already are cash-strapped so are forced into crime in order to support their habits.  This forms a health crisis to both the addicted and to the general public.

What I don’t understand is why we tolerate such addiction when the seriously mentally ill are given no choice, but are confronted by police who take them in to be evaluated where they are held involuntarily for 72 hours in order to be re-evaluated and given meds if it is deemed that they are supposed to take them.  They are viewed as being  “gravely disabled” and unable to care for themselves, much like the addict who is asleep on the sidewalk needing drugs to keep him feeling halfway normal and not sick. 

Due to the problem of crime, with health issues and the possibility that an addict will starve, overdose or fall asleep in some unsafe place leads one to believe that they are also gravely disabled and no choice should be given to them to live outdoors in a manner that is much like how stray dogs must live.  They should be removed from the premises and given a health checkup and given a place to stay to get clean and sober off drugs.  They cannot take care of themselves and a tent on a sidewalk is no way to keep healthy and remaining free of street drugs.

Much like a mentally ill person who cannot take care of themselves, addicts should be given treatment and not given a choice about this.  They should be taught life skills and their records should have a notification that reflects that they were under the influence of some drug at the time they committed crimes to support their drug habit.  This is to ensure that the person is given appropriate consequences for their crimes, if they were under the influence at the time, which would mean mandatory drug treatment.  Drug treatment that addresses the issue over a long period of time, and not just a 60-day drug treatment program or some short stay in a recovery program.

After all, seriously mentally ill patients are given drugs to deal with their symptoms, so why is it different that the drug addict, experiencing some symptoms making them feel unwell cannot steal to buy the drugs that make them feel “well”, or at least better so that they aren’t experiencing symptoms caused by not taking their usual drugs that they become physically, mentally and spiritually addicted to?