A mom grieves for her daughter, then acts to fight for a new law (Opinion)
We all know that the opioid crisis in New Jersey is worse off than in many states, with three times the national death rate from overdoses.
One mom, Lisa Vandegrift, who lost her daughter to an overdose, is fighting for a new law. She wants parents to have the power to commit their adult children if they are addicted. The idea of an involuntary commitment for an adult rightfully alarms anyone who values civil liberties and the right of people to make their own choices about the help they should receive. Of course, the point that Lisa is making is that adults hooked on deadly drugs are not making reasonable, rational decisions and in so many cases will lead to death. She joined me to discuss her situation on Monday's morning show. She also joined me on Chasing News for Monday night's show.
Looking at the number of people with drug and mental health issues, there's a strong argument to be made that we simply do not institutionalize enough people who truly are a threat to themselves and others. Of course, this has been a discussion point in our society for many decades.
I believe that there is a simple compromise that will satisfy both civil libertarians and parents who want to see immediate action. Let's start with the distribution of Narcan. The idea that we have law enforcement and emergency medical professionals armed with a life saving drug is a step in the right direction. But when that drug is used multiple times on the same person, sometimes in the course of the same day, we have a problem. Some might say that under these circumstances the life saver has had the unintended consequence of becoming an enabler to the addiction. Every time Narcan is used to save a life, the recipient should be involuntarily committed to a treatment program. And that treatment should be extensive. Let's not forget that, in many cases, the drugs being used are illegal.
I've heard many parents say they would rather have their kids in a jail cell than in a morgue. Let's face facts, all the money being spent from our government and all the lip service paid to the crisis from our former Governor and now our current Governor hasn't made a dent in the crisis. Keep doing the same thing and expecting different results is one definition of insanity. The time is now to do something radically different. Perhaps "Sabrina's Law" is the best first step. Beyond that, let's make sure there is a legal option tied to the distribution of Narcan. No one should ever receive multiple doses to be brought back to life in the same day. If someone is using illegal drugs and endangering themselves and their family, it's our obligation as a society to get them off the street and helped. We're already paying a hefty sum on the law enforcement end. Let's invest that money in getting people help and empowering parents.
Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015. Tweet him @NJ1015 or @BillSpadea. The opinions expressed here are solely those of Bill Spadea.
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