I agree with the author of the Aug. 3 My Turn column that “soft” is never helpful when it comes to substance abuse, especially when damage or injury is the result. Having observed every element of this issue close up for more than 30 years, I have seen the pendulum swings of community responses to this problem. The real issue is choosing the best response to everything from a DUI to doing damage to property and people.
Regarding DUIs, I know that for each DUI citation, there is a handful or more of people who are not caught. So, it would help to catch more of them. In any case in which substance abuse is involved, mandatory professional evaluation to help determine the depth of the problem and by responding with education or treatment as needed and punishment as appropriate. Anything less than that is, in essence, temporary.
It would also help to have services available for people who know they have a problem and want to fix it, to have access to treatment regardless of financial circumstances. That can nip many problems in the bud. This is not the common response, usually citing budgetary problems, and, in the end costing more with fewer positive results.
It’s hard to grasp that substance abuse can be determined to be an illness but it can and once determined it needs to be responded to in a way that can potentially eliminate future problems.