The Long Road to Recovery

Worcester’s rehabilitation program a good step, but cannot go it alone

Andrew Vontzalides, Scarlet Staff

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The pernicious effect of the rise of opiate addiction in the United States has been ravaging countless communities that have lost a sense of direction, purpose, and hope.  As the social fabric of communities begins to atrophy, a feeling of isolation and despair has slowly crept into many formerly prosperous American towns and cities.

This isolation and despair can lead to a slippery slope, which many Americans and their loved ones have begun to understand, as people start to fill this vacuum by turning towards escapism and opioid abuse.  This dangerous rise in opioid abuse has been a phenomenon for over a decade, but has only recently entered our national dialogue in the past two years or so, with programs aiming to address it effectively being put into place even more recently.

On the front lines of such treatment is Worcester’s own “Buyer Diversion Treatment Program,” which will give local authorities the discretion in assisting low-level nonviolent offenders who purchase drugs and want treatment.  Such nonviolent offenders will be offered treatment in an attempt to start them back on the road to recovery.  A $99,000 grant from the Baker administration will give the office of the district attorney the financial resources to administer this project.

Programs similar to the Buyer Diversion Treatment Program in Worcester are necessary and those with the same fundamental principles but some variations should be implemented across the country.  Communities thrive when there is a sense of connection and generativity among its members.  Given this, rehabilitation, while an effective program to deal with the symptoms of this crisis, cannot be seen as a panacea in addressing these problems.

Social programs on both municipal, state, and even federal levels must be reformed or developed to restore a sense of economic stability and social generativity in areas from inner cities in our country to poor, rural towns in Appalachia.  Without a change in the fundamental social structure of ailing communities, rehabilitation can only work in addressing the symptoms of the crisis rather than the root of the issue.

With this qualification aside, the Buyer Diversion Treatment Program is both noble and worthy to implement, as it is a program intended to save lives and put people on the right track again. During the past 16 years, Worcester county has had 1,670 overdose deaths, with the past two years accounting for nearly 30 percent of them.The idea is mitigate these deaths and the grief and destabilization caused by them in households and communities in our country.  

Action by Worcester and the Baker administration to address this issue should be applauded, though we must understand this will be a long road to recovery that we all must walk together.