Will lost almost everything: jobs, his driver's license, his car, his marriage and his home. He found enough temporary work to pay rent on a room, ate at soup kitchens, and stole and resold goods for cash.
"Feeding that addiction," he says. "Feeding that monster."
We're only using Will's first name because future landlords or employers might not take him based on his record.
The game changer
One morning almost three years ago, with no heroin and no money to buy any, Will went into withdrawal. This former basketball player, once in top shape, dragged himself down the street searching for a deal. He had some crack that he could sell. The buyer was an undercover cop.
"That was the game changer," Will says. Instead of prison, Will was sent to a daily probation program in Massachusetts called Community Corrections.
(Dalgarno Institute comment: We speak in pejorative terms of the ‘War Against Drugs’, (BTW – one which Australia never fought) and this meme has conjured disempowering caricatures that have been harnessed wonderfully by an ever emboldened pro-drug and other anarchist groups to peddle their notions of cultural reform.
However, any ‘war’ against all community and individual destroying behaviours is never a futile one (thought at times it may appear a losing one – especially when constantly sabotaged from within). When it comes to other such destructive elements; we don’t stop fighting assault, rape, road toll, theft, vandalism, etc, just because we haven’t eliminated or made limited in-roads into stopping these behaviours. No, we continue, but not in a mindless repetition of one misused, and consequently, struggling tactic.
Ernest Hemmingway was right when he said, “Once we have a war there is only one thing to do. It must be won. For defeat brings worse things than any that can ever happen in war.”
Overcoming a society, community, family and individual destroying ‘enemy’ requires creative diligence, not just belligerence. There are many tactics in a war that can subdue an enemy. It is important to restate that in the War for the brains our youth, the health of our families and the safety or our community, the prohibitive law, can and must be used as a Judicial Educator, not a punitive incarcerator. One does not have to weaken statutes or penalties – in fact this will only give greater strength to this scourge. However, diversionary strategies that empower and equip options for change and the facilitated exit from drug use, is one of the best weapons in the legislative arsenal.
Whilst one may agree that a doubling down on a ‘one hand tied behind the back’ and non-restorative mechanism may continue to bear only little fruit, ‘cutting that arm’ off, rather than re-tasking the law and harnessing it with drug use recovery; supply, and most importantly, demand reduction mechanisms, is the better way forward for all our communities.)