Ever wonder how so many people without jobs can afford meth? I’ll save a few words and skip right to the solution:
Lou Leon Guerrero should delegate a team of trained investigators to the food stamps fraud office and crack down on swaps between people and with mom and pop stores for a six month period. The short-term demand for meth will decrease. Public school teachers will notice that several of their students won’t be so hungry anymore, particularly at the end of the month.
There might even be a substantial increase of people looking for work and landing jobs in the private sector.
Recently-unsealed federal court documents show our long-suspected resurrection of U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency activity in Guam after a five-year hiatus, pointing to a previously concealed aggressive effort to cut off the meth supply into the island. The effort complements those by Homeland Security Investigations – also a federal division – and efforts by the Guam Police Department and the Office of the Attorney General of Guam in tandem with the local drug courts.
For those of us who know about that meth life, we know that cutting off the supply is not nearly as important as doing something about the demand.
But in our (society and those we elect to make decisions for us) zeal and rush to do something about the meth epidemic that has gripped us through the destruction of families and the explosion of violent crime, we have created a hodgepodge of reactionary solutions and programs that don’t work together to solve the issue.
So, let’s unravel this, piece by piece.
People who hurt other people or take or destroy their property are criminals and must be held accountable as such. In the last election, we got tired of it all, and we elected Douglas Moylan to be our attorney general on his “Toughest AG on crime” promise. He’s living up to that promise.
And his agenda is indiscriminate. As long as probable cause is established, he is going nuclear on defendants in violent crime cases, especially where they involve narcotics.
With less than a year back on the job, Mr. Moylan’s prosecutors appear to be winning the fight to put violent offenders away, with both an increase of victories at trial and a public campaign that most likely pressured judges into keeping repeat offenders locked up as they await trial.
Back in my days of meth use, surrounded by people who also abused the drug, I knew for a fact many users’ disrespect for the law. They reasoned that consequences on them if they are caught (i.e. a night in jail followed by a winning gamble with drug testing because of their connections at the probation office, all while avoiding a prison sentence because of lax prosecution in the past) were inconsequential. The meth life could continue. Until a heart attack, of course; but that’s for a whole other article.
For years I have seen a depressing imbalance in the criminal justice system, though. A disconnection from reality led to the release of criminal defendants and convicted criminals who should have been locked up, and the detention of people whose only crime was a love affair with a pipe.
People need rehabilitation, but that isn’t Douglas Moylan’s job. He’s doing his job by indiscriminately prosecuting people caught breaking the law. I would propose it isn’t even the government’s job to rehabilitate drug users. It’s a drug user’s job to stop using drugs, and in a broader sense, it’s our job as a community.
There was a woman who was caught on camera stealing food clearly meant for children from a gas station. She was shamed on social media by thousands. Another viral video of a woman clearly suffering from a drug-triggered mental health disorder was met with ridicule even beyond our shores.
I’m guilty of laughing at those videos of people zombied out in game rooms and on road sides; and I should have known and behaved better than that.
Life in Guam is hard enough as it is. For – I’m gonna guess – most families, there is not enough time in the struggle simply to survive to sacrifice resources toward the rehabilitation of a loved one. It is a long and arduous road that often is littered with Dededo-sized potholes of relapses and failure before the quitting sticks.
The first, but not-so-simple, solution we can provide is to stop providing money or any type of aid that makes bad decisions easier for the drug addicts in our families and among our friends. Cut them off. Providing for them, helping them, is not helping them at all. It is only feeding their addiction.
The second is to recommend drug treatment. And this is where we’re failing as a society. There isn’t enough capacity. It’s very likely that if you were to help enroll a loved one into a drug treatment program locally, there would not be enough bed space. That is not to mention our ability to trust some of these treatment centers, known to be uncontrolled drug dens themselves, sadly.
Until Guam builds this capacity, there are some simple solutions that will at least begin to help drug addicts to see that there’s a rainbow with a pot of life at the end of it. These are things we, who go to work every day or care for our homes and families, might take for granted.
First, take them to get their identification cards, mayor’s verifications, passports, birth certificates, social security cards, police and court clearances. Hold on to these documents and tell them they’ll be ready for the day they’re ready to stop using and to go find jobs.
Second, sit down with them and have them draw up resumes. Keep those with you as well.
Third, if they don’t have a high school diploma, go to Guam Community College and get the piece of paper that shows everything they need to do in order to get a GED or pass the adult high school program. Put that piece of paper in their wallets or purses.
Fourth, when they’re ready and only when they’re ready… find a way to get them transportation to conduct all the business of getting their lives back in order. Whether that’s driving them yourself, having another family member drive them, or working out the mass transit schedule with them. Do not give them a car. That’s just asking for stupid.
Fifth, give them a flip phone so they can make phone calls and text messages. Do not provide them with smart phones, where they can download social media. Facebook and Instagram messenger are just online drug trafficking dens.
Sixth, if one of their old friends from that meth life comes around, tell them to get out and to come back when they smell like responsibility and not the streets.
Rehabilitation is possible. It would be easier if we donated resources to non profit groups who could stand up real treatment programs that are credible and trust worthy. Cutting the demand is the answer to ending the meth epidemic. Start with food stamps fraud, and quickly move on to drug treatment. And let Douglas Moylan, the DEA, GPD, and HSI continue their work, with our applause.