This month and last, 26 people were arrested and almost $50,000 – as well as cars; 9,000 bags of heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and prescription painkillers; and guns – were seized in 16 different drug busts across Ocean County in an investigation called “Operation MVP.” The group was responsible for importing 25,000 bags of heroin each week as well as distributing prescription opiate medications, according to News 12.
“Operation Southern Shield” followed in Ocean County, with the arrests of 20 more people the following week and included the seizure of 1,500 doses of heroin, crack cocaine, marijuana, oxycodone pills, Xanax pills, a few thousand dollars in cash, and a car.
Also this month, in South New Jersey, another drug investigation dubbed “Operation Cold Front” resulted in the arrest of 25 people as well as the seizure of 1,800 bags of heroin and cocaine, more than $50,000, and guns, reported ABC 7.
Drug investigations across the state are ongoing to identify the people responsible for putting substances like heroin, prescription painkillers, cocaine, and other drugs on the street and into the hands of those who are struggling with an addiction. The end game is to remove the supply so those who are seeking the substances will turn instead to drug addiction treatment and get well. But is it working?
The End of the War on Drugs
In the 1980s, Nancy Reagan told kids to “just say ‘no,’” as her husband pushed drug interdiction and hefty prison terms for those who violated the laws against distributing or even possessing drugs. Many believe that the end result was the criminalization of addiction and an increased stigma against those people who struggle with the problem.
Fast-forward to today, after a decade in which science repeatedly proved that drug addiction is in fact a medical disorder and one that is not overcome by will but by intensive medical and therapeutic treatment, a fact that effectively ended the overt War on Drugs. Slowly, legislation on both a federal and state level is catching up to this new profound understanding of the function of addiction. There has been a decriminalization of possession of certain substances, a decrease in minimum sentences for drug-related charges, and/or the creation of drug courts that offer treatment to nonviolent drug offenders instead of incarceration across the country.
But the War on Drugs has had a lasting effect. There is still a great deal of stigma against anyone struggling with addiction, even though many people report knowing someone or knowing of someone who has lived with the disorder. This stigma stops people from admitting to themselves and others that they have a problem that requires treatment, stops family members from admitting to others who can help that this problem is Happeningat home, and stops everyone from getting the treatment necessary to overcome the disorder.
Overcoming the Stigma of Addiction: What You Can DoSomething as embedded in our culture as a social stigma against addiction can feel so much larger than ourselves and too big to take on. But the fact is that long-term change happens person by person, and you can have a huge impact on how others in your community view addiction and treatments. Here are just a few ways that you can create positive change:
- If you have struggled with addiction in your life personally, share your story. Talk about how you felt in active addiction, what caused you to seek treatment, how treatment changed your life, and how you live now after treatment.
- If your loved one or close friend was once, or is now, living in addiction, share the story of how it impacted your life and relationship, how you found out about the problem, when you realized it was serious, and how the two of you function today.
- If you have lost a loved one or friend to addiction, share their story. Encourage others in your position to speak up and help their loved one get help before it’s too late.
- If you are currently struggling with addiction, reach out for help. Talk to the people you love about the problem and then connect with a treatment program that can help you get back on track. Become the positive story of life after addiction that you can share with others.
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