Heroin addiction has been on the rise for the past few years causing local communities and law-enforcement agencies to be concerned about it as heroin overdose related deaths and drug-related crimes start to take place more frequently. Heroin is an illegal drug and police departments have long been arresting those who are in possession of it. However, in recent years police’s approach to heroin addiction has shifted and it is now viewed as a disease instead of being rigorously regarded as a crime. With this change of heart, police departments across the country are offering help to those suffering from heroin addiction in order to reduce the number drug-related crimes in their areas and lower the number of deaths caused by overdose.
Coming to acknowledge that being addicted to illegal drug like heroin leaves little room for the addicted person to legally seek for help, police departments across country started offering help themselves. They invite addicted individuals to walk into police department, turn in any illegal substances and related paraphernalia without the risk of being arrested for drug possession and get referred to a a local rehab program without having to wait to get in. By offering help, law enforcement agencies are attempting to offer drug addicts an alternative to going out and committing petty crime to help finance their addiction. Programs like this are also giving people a chance to get their lives back on track as it might be extremely difficult to fight addiction on one’s own.
Giving addicted people a chance to come clean does not mean, however, that police is taking a softer stand on drugs. On the contrary, those who produce or distribute drugs are still targeted by law enforcement. Also, those who were arrested for drug possession do not have the same option of getting into rehab as those who came clean voluntarily. By initiating assistance programs, police departments offer a hand to those willing to get out of drug-using lifestyles without risking an arrest. Such initiatives are targeting the cause of the problem instead of fighting its consequences, and thus, appear to be a more effective approach.