Sophia Vermont

Opioid Epidemic

The opioid epidemic is a big problem in the United States. Something has to be done fast.

October 4th, 2016

Dear Future President of the United States:

I believe all people have the right to be happy in the world they live in. I believe people should feel happy without drugs. I believe people should not feel the need to do drugs. I believe people who are addicted to drugs need to quit, they might need help doing so.

In 2014 47,055 people died from drug overdoses, a large number of these overdoses were from opioids (Izadi, May 9, 2016). Almost 50,000 people should not be dying every year. The President of the United States is supposed to protect the citizens of this country. To me, protecting the citizens is helping people with drug addiction to quit. To protect people means protecting their health, drug addicts face big health risks. Another thing you need to understand about the drug epidemic is it doesn’t just affect the drug addict, it affects the family, and anyone close to the drug addict. Jesse is a girl from southern Vermont whose mom has struggled with drugs her entire life. When Jesse was in 7th grade, her mom started synthetic opiates. It was in 7th grade that Jesse noticed her mom started acting different, and after that Jesse’s mom was not a good parent. Sometimes she forgot to pay the bills, they wouldn’t have hot water. Jesse’s mom lost her job so they didn’t always have enough money for enough food to feed their whole family. Jesse and her two siblings struggle without a supportive mother. Jesse said “you don’t know true selfishness until you have had a parent with drug addiction.” (Erica Hileman, April 8, 2016) You, the President of the United States needs to take immediate action on the opioid epidemic so that more drug addicts and their families don’t have to struggle any longer.

A few solutions are already in process around the country. In Gloucester Massachusetts the police department has started a program called the ANGEL program. ANGEL is designed to help drug addicts, rather than arrest them. When a police officer finds a drug addict, rather than arresting the person for illegal drug use, the police officer will help start rehab for that person. Chief Campanellow of the Gloucester Police department started the ANGEL program, and believes “there has been a drop in fatal overdoses in Gloucester and a 27% reduction in drug related crime.” Since last June, when the program started, almost 100 other police departments around the country are trying new strategies with the drug epidemic, such as the ANGEL program. Close to a dozen police departments in the U.S. are starting a program called LEAD. LEAD stands for Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion. With LEAD, when a police officer finds a drug user, the police officer has to decide whether to send the drug user to social services for help, or to arrest them. (Morning Edition, August 30, 2016) When you become President you can help by supporting and promoting programs such as ANGEL and LEAD. These programs are designed to help drug addicts recover. Putting a person on drugs in prison could be useless because they might forget why they are in jail in the first place, defeating the purpose of the punishment. If police officers help drug addicts recover, that is a good thing. Gloucester Sergeant Nicastro says “I’d rather help somebody than arrest somebody. If I can play a part in getting someone clean, that means a lot to me.” (Morning Edition, August 30, 2016)

I think a good president should be a positive optimist who can lead, and make decisions for the greater good. Positivity and optimism could mean less people start drugs because they would be seeing the good side in things, and they would be living in a happier world. Being able to lead means bringing people together to work on a greater common goal. In this case defeating the drug epidemic is our goal. Are you the right person to lead us there?