Heroin Addiction

My buddy and I each took heroin. He overdosed. Why was I charged together with his dying? – The Washington Publish

Increasingly, prosecutors treat accidental overdoses as homicides and accuse those who have committed the drug homicide or murder. The overdose legislation passed by the federal government and 25 states dates back to the 1980s. Until recently, law enforcement actions were relatively rare. However, according to Northeastern University School of Law researchers, they have grown dramatically over the last decade over the previous year. In Minnesota, the New York Times noted that they quadrupled.

These laws are becoming increasingly popular and stringent: in 2017 (the last year this data was collected), 13 states introduced laws to strengthen their drug laws or create new killing laws, according to the Drug Policy Alliance. Last year, Rhode Island passed a law against drug-related murder, which provides for life in prison without parole. In July, North Carolina passed a "Death by Distribution" law, treating overdose as a second-degree murder and imposing a jail term of up to 40 years. These are draconian penalties for low-level criminal offenses – and there is no evidence that prosecutions interfere with drug use or sales.

Justin and my story are familiar. Shortly after high school, we started using OxyContin. When the prices exploded, a friend introduced us to a cheaper alternative. At that time, US $ 20 worth of heroin was equivalent to $ 160 worth of OxyContin. When I tried heroin, I found it anti-climactic. Despite the fact that it is a "hard drug", the effect was exactly the same as the drug I was used to. Justin and I have changed.

Soon we were both physically dependent on the drug. The retreat causes panic and agony so severe that it disturbs the survival instinct. All of our goals – I once dreamed of attending medical school – have fallen by the wayside. Our unique mission was day after day to avoid the retreat. It dominated our thoughts and determined our actions.

To buy heroin, you have to know someone who has it, or know someone who knows someone who does it. Friends and acquaintances formed our network. The vast majority of the heroin dealers I met were not making any money. They simply supported their own habits by selling to people they knew and were addicted to. The archetypal predatory drug dealer is a myth. For many, selling is not about ruthless profit. it's about survival.

On March 28, 2014, Justin wrote me a text message looking for a gram of heroin. I had a pound left and sold it for $ 80. We had sold heroin back and forth in the five years we were addicted. I did not think about it anymore. I learned that Justin had only died when the police raided my home the next night. They handcuffed me and told me that I was being arrested under a federal law over Justin Delong's overdose, an indictment that they said would result in a minimum sentence of 20 years. Three months earlier, my mother had overdosed the painkiller prescribed by Veterans Affairs. I was 24 years old, heroin addicted and not a trader in the traditional sense. Justin was my best friend. I thought I had helped him to ward off the retreat. The government said I killed him. I was charged with a minor charge, "conspiracy to distribute heroin," and received five years' time in a plea.

At that time, I assumed that this was a coincidence. But my situation was pretty widespread in our criminal justice system. Despite the legislature's claim, these laws are not directed only to high-profile traders. More often, they seduce people like me. For example, in Pennsylvania-the state that cited the nation in these prosecutions-about half of those convicted in the first six months of 2017 did not have the traditional dealer-user relationship with the deceased, according to a New York Times study: They were family members, romantic partners or friends. Similarly, a Milwaukee Fox affiliate, investigating 100 Wisconsin deaths in recent years, found that only 11 higher-level drug dealers were involved.

User traders are the most common type of traders and traders most visible to the police – and therefore the easiest to arrest. Some defendants were arrested after attempting to save the victim's life by choosing 911 or administering CPR or naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of an overdose. (The laws of the Good Samaritans, which encourage people to call for help during an overdose, only protect against arrest for possession, not murder.) The overdose laws prevent people from overdosing during an overdose To ask for help, which inevitably leads to more deaths. In recent years, as these law enforcement measures have increased, the number of fatal overdoses has continued to increase across the country.

The detention of addicted people does not contribute to overcoming the opioid crisis – it only increases human suffering. Prisons plagued by overcrowding and violence are not places that promote the emotional vulnerability necessary for healing. In the two weeks following her release from prison, the risk of overdose is 129 times higher than that of the general population, according to a 2007 study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

I was in the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California. Short psychiatric sessions were available for us, and in this way we could have psychotropic drugs prescribed. However, personal psychological counseling with the only psychologist responsible for 1,400 inmates was not possible. The Bureau of Prisons ran a drug treatment program that focused on criminal thought patterns rather than the actual causes of addiction such as trauma. I did not find it helpful.

Nevertheless, I was lucky. The fact that I am white and civil has fundamentally shaped my experience in the criminal justice system. My five-year prison sentence was unusually low for a case that led to death. (A black defendant is 75 percent more likely to receive a mandatory minimum sentence than a white defendant who committed the same crime in 2014, according to a University of Michigan Law School study.) When my mother died, I could afford Spend thousands of dollars on calls and messages that allowed me to stay in touch with my family and friends. These connections provided the social support and hope for my future that I needed to be successful – to avoid returning to prison despite a 50 percent drug-related relapse rate and instead create a fulfilling new life for me. After I was released, I could afford to enroll at Portland State University instead of being forced to take on the first job that brought me a criminal record. I have found a way to recover outside of 12-step programs: Today, I live a healthy lifestyle, move around and embrace loving relationships. Despite – and not because of – my imprisonment, I recovered.

The Society offered no compassionate means to Justin during his lifetime – just a dozen arrests and a jail sentence, none of which helped overcome the addiction. Only after his death did the government state that she valued his life. The federal government condemned five people for his accidental overdose – me, my roommate, who sold me my heroin, his dealer and the two traders of that man – and sentenced us to a total of 60 years in prison for Justin's death. The heroin flow in our city of Portland continued uninterrupted. In the years following the trial, the rate of fatal heroin overdoses in Oregon even rose. It requires us to go beyond guilt and find compassionate, evidence-based practices. Improving access to drug-assisted treatment, naloxone and safe consumption is a proven method. We can take revenge or save lives, but not both.

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