A social worker wrote to me: I agree completely with the philosophy of Stay Close. I have learned to be very tolerant and understanding of the pain and choices made by young people in recovery. I believe that our society must develop a new paradigm in terms of treatment vs. incarceration. The American prison and juvenile justice systems have become a dead end for so many. I hope for a time when drug addiction and mental illness will be treated with the same compassion as any other disease.
My reflection: Incarceration seems to be our society’s first answer to addiction. Sure, locking up the addict gets him off the streets and might even save his life, and the lives of others – but the problem is that we’re putting people is jail who are ill. Addicts need help or else their sickness resumes when they later hit the streets.
Today’s Promise to consider: Every nineteen minutes, someone dies of drug overdose. This can’t continue. Our addicted loves ones need help and treatment. The problem is that THEY must choose to get help. We can’t force them into sobriety. I pray that our judicial systems become enlightened to the realities of this disease and develop new ways to steer our children toward the help they need.
Unfortunately mental illness/addiction will never be treated like other diseases. The U. S. criminal justice system, attorney’s etc. is a huge money machine and its primary source of income is our mentally ill and/or addicted children. In addition, our public officials would not be able to get elected if they were not “tough on crime.” One more, our treatment programs are not long enough nor are they affordable to the vast majority of parents. Here again is another huge money machine(s). Our hope comes from educating ourselves on the disease of addiction and then getting out of our children way of recovery while still “staying close.” The disease needs to wear itself out before the option of recovery can take hold. It can only do that if we and others allow the natural consequences of the disease to take effect. Of course, there are always exceptions but I consider they anomalies. Just my experience.
In NYS prisons treatment isn’t offered until an inmate is within a year of their release date. My son didn’t get his early release date because he tested positive 3 times while waiting for his “treatment” program for 2 years. And, according to one prison counselor I spoke with, the treatment house in the prison has more drugs and problems than the other houses. Since my son has been in prison, he has continued the pattern of using, getting hurt and getting in trouble, and the worst part is I have continued my pattern of enabling with commissary money, cigarettes and food, giving in to his claims and manipulations of living in fear, starving and being angry and depressed.
You are so right Pat. Jail probably won’t help. “Our hope comes from getting out of their way and staying close”, and I am still trying to figure out how to do that after 17 years of his struggle with addiction and mental health issues. For today, I will go to a meeting and read the steps. My relapses are what I need to work on. I have 6 months to get stronger while he is still incarcerated.