There have been a lot of articles recently telling of Maine governor Paul LePage's efforts to increase awareness of the growing drug problem in Maine. LePage recently said that there will be approximately 800 babies born drug affected or drug dependent in Maine by the end of 2013. He has used this data to emphasize the need for more federal funding for the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency (MDEA).
Recent federal budget cuts have meant that the MDEA will not be getting the funding that it has in the past. The governor has hosted several press conferences and meetings with police throughout Maine explaining just how serious the drug problem is in the state and how more funding is needed to fight the problem.
A recent article in the Morning Sentinel explains why a different approach is needed. While the author admits that something needs to be done to stop drug abuse, especially when it comes to drug-affected babies in the state, she believes that “early intervention and compassionate treatment” are the best ways to fight the growing drug problem.
The author is a manager for the Maine Mother's Network which is described as a program of crisis counseling centers with statewide partners. She feels that drug addicted women fear that they face the social stigma of being failures or having low morals. This makes them less likely to seek help, especially if they become pregnant. In addition to the fear that they will be looked at as a bad parent, many women fear the risk of being incarcerated or losing their child if they come forward when pregnant. This not only prevents the women from seeking proper prenatal care, it also means that they will continue to use drugs with during the pregnancy. She writes:
The shame of being labeled failures drives many away from treatment. The cultural depiction of addicts as immoral, broken and “less than” does a disservice not only to these suffering human beings who need help, but also to our culture, which struggles to address the growing problem of substance abuse and addiction.
Instead of spending money on more drug enforcement, it is suggested that more drug outreach programs be created allowing addicts and perspectives mothers to be able to have access to a number of counseling options. The author goes on to say that there is no one way to beat addiction, by providing options such as outpatient counseling, residential recovery programs, and12 step programs an addict can be able to choose how they recover. Removing the stigma of drug abuse and understanding that it is a disease that needs to be treated is the best way to get addicts to come forward and get the help that they need.
This is an interesting approach to dealing with drug crimes, especially stopping the trend of drug-affected babies. Instead of trying to catch all drug dealers and stopping the crimes, it may be more effective to treat addicts so that they can get off of drugs and contribute to society. If there are less people addicted to drugs, there will be less demand for drugs. This tactic may not get the support of the Governor or federal funding, but outreach programs and non-profits can work to help unborn babies on their own with the support of citizens.