How to handle news articles that explore ‘criminally charging overdose survivors’

There was a flurry of news articles that talked about legislators, local and state, considering criminal charges against overdose survivors, in order to ‘force them’ into treatment.. Read the response below one of our Recovery Alliance members had about a local news article…


I read with some dismay your article “Criminally charging overdose survivors”. I noted that you did not interview any addiction experts in your article. Criminal justice professionals and first responders, while interacting frequently with addicted individuals, do not understand the disease, and are not best suited to make policy without plenty of guidance.

As a culture, our solution to addiction tends to be to incarcerate people. Addiction, however, is a public health crisis, not a crime, and we are just beginning to turn the tide toward solutions that research has shown DO work: the correct dosage of treatment, combined with recovery support services.

Addiction was deemed a disease by the American Medical Association in the 1950’s, and every day since has been a struggle against lingering stigma against addicted people and their families. As someone in the addiction field, I am in touch daily with these groups, and am familiar with the deep pain that articles like yours cause them.

Please consider including addiction experts, such as addictions counselors, recovery specialists, prevention specialists, family members, or people in recovery in future articles to give a balanced point of view. Lancaster has a strongly organized and vibrant recovering community, and I am happy to be your guide, recommending local experts for you.



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