Pubdate: Sun, 03 Jul 2016
Source: Day, The (New London,CT)
Copyright: 2016 The Day Publishing Co.
Author: Sylvester L. Salcedo
Note: Sylvester L. Salcedo is a retired lieutenant commander, having 
served in the U.S. Navy and Navy Reserve, including from 1996-1999 as 
commander of Joint Task Force 6 out of El Paso, Texas, working in 
support of Department of Defense and Department of Justice 
counter-narcotics programs. An attorney, he lives in Orange.


On June 20, The Day published a guest commentary by Jim Spellman of 
Groton, "Stopping heroin at the source," which contended that "two 
appropriate recommendations have been offered to counter the heroin 
crisis - treat it as an epidemic and counter it as a village."

Left unclear was who determined that these are the two appropriate 
recommendations in all of Connecticut.

But, on his first point, I will agree that the heroin crisis in our 
state should be treated as an epidemic.

However, the governor and officials in state government and local 
communities, like Groton, have not responded as if it is, in fact, an 
epidemic. There is no visible or palpable statewide sense of urgency 
or crisis about heroin. There is no rapid crisis response mode. There 
is no concrete plan to address the crisis. And there has been none.

To date, I know of no town or city across Connecticut that has 
responded as if there is a heroin crisis. Instead, I only hear or 
read about lukewarm official announcements, such as Sen. Richard 
Blumenthal's roundtables held across the state. There have been 
countless community meetings grounded in the same worn out sound 
bites and platitudes from the playbook of strategies and policies 
from America's failed and wasteful, 45-year-old War on Drugs 
weltanschauung. "Just say No to Drugs" "More funds for drug education 
(DARE) and treatment/rehab programs"

"More money for drug interdiction"

The state is broke. There is no money for any new initiatives in 
Connecticut. And there is none forthcoming from the federal 
government that could address the speed of this crisis.

On Spellman's second point: "to counter it as a village" with 
suggestions of sanctions and military firebombing missions against 
heroin source regions (Colombia, Mexico, Afghanistan, remember the 
Andean Ridge initiative?) - I disagree with him.

It is pure fantasy. It is the type of fanciful wishful thinking that 
worsens the heroin crisis here at home instead of addressing it 
responsibly, quickly and effectively. Put the blame elsewhere. It's 
those people, not us. So, napalm them. And ask your president, 
senators and congressmen to do it or vote in someone else who will do it.

Spellman quotes Chief of Police Leonard Campanello of Gloucester, 
Mass., who, faced with an overwhelming heroin crisis in his town, has 
publicly given up his law enforcement duties in favor of those of, 
essentially, a Chief of Social Work and Public Health. He has come to 
the realization (rightly so) that "we cannot arrest our way out of 
what is taking place with heroin, we must seek out, offer and provide 
means of treatment." A good beginning and a smart pivot from the War 
on Drugs mentality, but it still falls short in a crisis.

To face the heroin crisis, let us be open to all possible solutions, 
including accepting the fact that our Connecticut heroin dependent 
population cannot be forced or mandated to be sober and drug free. 
The reality is that there may be circumstances where heroin 
maintenance programs (yes, safe injection rooms offering 
pharmaceutical-grade heroin) and other more tolerant options may have 
to be considered and offered to end the crisis at a fiscally responsible price.

The goal should be to avoid one more heroin overdose-related death, 
to go from 700-plus overdose deaths annually to zero.

To our heroin-addicted brethren, let us offer Connecticut TEA: 
Tolerance, Empathy and Acceptance, as a way to end this crisis.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom