Speaker of the House of the Massachusetts State Legislature Robert DeLeo recently addressed many business owners at the chamber of commerce meeting in Lynn, MA. While most people came to hear DeLeo speak about local business and local economics, he surprised most by talking about drug abuse.
DeLeo told the crowd that he now gets more calls from people asking him to help get their loved one into a drug rehab than into school. This is not the first time DeLeo has spoken out against drug abuse. He surprised another group of people by switching from budget talks to the substance abuse problem in Massachusetts.
The two topics are not as far apart from each other as some people might think. Substance abuse cost cities major amounts of money and perhaps more importantly, costs people their lives. Those who have drug and alcohol addictions suck up city resources at alarming rates, as they require some form of intervention. Treating individuals for their addictions, housing them in state-run treatment centers or imprisoning drug offenders cost cities and states many millions of dollars per year. As a country, some reports indicate that we spend $25.7 billion dollars on handling the drug and alcohol problem nation-wide.
Perhaps what is most alarming is the amount of people incarcerated for drug offenses. A recently released report states that “In the United States, for example, the number of people imprisoned for drug offences has risen from approximately 38,000 to more than 500,000 in the last four decades”.
With all the spending that occurs on the state and national level, some people are still surprised at how ineffective it is. The problem is not only still here, but it is getting worse in many areas. Locally and nationally, the prescription drug and heroin problems are completely out of hand.
Aware of the financial and physical problems drug abuse is causing, DeLeo vowed that the Massachusetts legislature will work hard to help reverse the trend. He stated that they are adding more beds to treatment centers and making rehabilitation programs more available to addicts.