Defendants who appear in Judge Craig D. Hannah’s Opiate Crisis Intervention Court in Buffalo, New York can hope for a better future post drug addiction. If they complete the treatment, the prosecutors can lessen the charges against them. The aim is rehabilitation rather than prosecution.
This is America’s first court, launched in May 2017, which helps hasten the arraignment-to-treatment process of most defendants. With the opioid crisis looming large, the court has gained considerable traction, and Hannah has been receiving calls and visits from judges across the U.S. who are interested in this novel approach. The guilty range from those who are brought straight from prison to people who have spent some time in rehab, and all are offered the same treatment by the court.
Rehab and recovery are a part of the agreement that the defendant enters into with the judge. Apart from inpatient and outpatient programs and regular detoxification, there are counselling sessions as well. Every day at 9.30 a.m., the sessions begin. There are special observances as well such as 8 p.m. curfews and 30 consecutive days of in-person meetings.
For participants who relapse, there is no punishment as “relapsing is part of recovery.” However, the same laxity does not apply to someone who does not show up for treatment. They are likely to find a sheriff at their home armed with an arrest warrant. According to Hannah, “We have to be aggressive in following-up and checking on people. Our job is trying to keep them around long enough so they can get better.”
Most of the defendants who come for trial have trodden the same path of drug dependence. People like Crystal (name changed) had a legitimate reason for using prescription painkillers such as Lortab. However, with restrictions in place, it is increasingly becoming difficult even for those with a genuine need to meet their quota of painkillers or prescription opioids. Therefore, when the pain starts to affect their day-to-day lives, the only option they are left with is experimenting with highly potent and addictive drugs such as heroin and fentanyl.
The opioid crisis has taken a huge toll on Americans’ lives. Overall, the number of overdose deaths attributed to natural and semi-synthetic opioids for the 12-month period ending Jan. 2017 rose from 12,726 to 14,427. The 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reveals that nearly 11.8 million people aged 12 or older misused opioids in the past year while 891,000 youths aged 12 to 17 misused opioids. Further, 2.5 million adults aged 18 to 25 misused opioids during the same year.
Drug overdosing and deaths in detention or correctional centers is another cause of concern. Many inmates succumb to the drugs before their case is even heard in court. In the past, there have been glaring instances wherein detainees lost their lives simply because the correctional centers were not properly equipped to handle these cases. Commenting on the enormity of the opioid epidemic, Hannah who is himself in recovery says, “I think everyone is coming to grips with this as a health issue. Twenty years ago they were locking them to keep them away from the substance. That didn’t work ’cause the second they got out they still had the same illness.”
Drug addiction is neither a flaw of moral character nor does it arise because of lack of willpower. Instead, it is a grave mental illness that causes changes in brain chemistry. Recovery ensues with the willingness to seek help, but realization alone cannot facilitate it. For this to happen, one needs to undergo proper treatment under the watchful eyes of a medical practitioner. Sudden abstinence or self-medication can be disastrous and may result in untimely death.
Experts at Detox Facilities Texas can provide you with information on state-of-the-art treatment facilities that offer the best detox programs. Detox cleanses the body of all the toxins and prepare it for further treatment. If you know someone who is grappling with addiction and looking for help, call our 24/7 helpline 866-671-4308 to get connected to one of the best rapid detox centers in Texas.