Law Enforcement Finding Inevitable Shift from Painkillers to Heroin

localheroinA recent article in the Washington Post chronicled an investigation by law enforcement called “Operation Blue Dragon” that tracked illicit prescription drug distribution rings near the D.C. area. They wound up finding more than pills, and the people selling the drugs weren’t stereotypical dealers.

While some investigators, officers and agents may have been surprised to find that there was a shift from prescription painkillers to heroin, it has been known to be a natural progression to those in the addiction treatment field for a long time. Prescription opioids such as those containing hydrocodone or oxycodone can be quite costly, so people who wind up becoming addicted to them begin to seek something cheaper and stronger as their tolerance and “need” for the drug increases.

Of the people arrested in the operation, some of the ones noted in the article included a 36 yr old mother of two and former teacher, a 68 yr old man and a 21 yr old who had a toddler at home at the time of the raid. In all, more than 30 alleged pill and heroin dealers were arrested in the sweep this week.

While many people feel that law enforcement measures against illicit drug use and distribution are futile, or even harmful, another way to look at it is that it is an additional form of intervention. When people are hurting themselves and others, interventions take place. If individuals don’t intervene on themselves and stop the behavior, then it usually defaults to friends and family members. If they are unwilling or unable to get the person to stop causing damage, then society steps in – often through law enforcement.

Sure, it can be taken too far, but sometimes people spreading death need to be stopped. It is one thing to cause harm to oneselft, but it is quite another to profit off the pain and misery of others. However, since most dealers area also addicts, they should also be given a chance to become rehabilitated in most cases. The biggest problem is what is done with people in this sitation after the law enforcement intervention takes place. Thankfully our country continues to head more in the direction of getting treatment help for people suffering from addiction, rather than locking them all up like hardened criminals.

Mike Loverde

With firsthand experience with addiction, Mike Loverde is now a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP), as accredited by the Association of Intervention Specialists and the Pennsylvania Certification Board. He founded Family First Intervention in 2008 and has since helped hundreds of families find intervention and addiction rehabilitation solutions.

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