A run-of-the-mill traffic stop in Calcasieu Parish resulted in one of the biggest drug busts the county has seen in years. When he allegedly made an illegal lane change while driving down I-10, the driver from Quebec was pulled over by local sheriffs. According to their report, he was behaving in an “overly nervous and suspicious” manner, triggering a request to search his pickup truck. The driver provided written consent, and the search yielded 100 kilos of cocaine with an estimated street value of about $3 million packed into 80 parcels stowed in suitcases. The driver was arrested and charged with possession of more than 400 grams of a controlled substance. Bail is set at $1 million.
Law enforcement emphasized that the truck was not under any formal surveillance and that they made what they termed a “cold stop” – not at all out of the ordinary. In fact, a fair number of major arrests occur in the course of a routine traffic stop, which suggests that though many are caught and penalized for drug trafficking, many are not.
One of the factors contributing to the development of a substance use disorder is exposure to drugs and alcohol. When illicit substances are continually available in a community, and there are people with an untreated addiction who regularly use them, an atmosphere of tolerance is created that may increase the likelihood that others will abuse drugs and alcohol. When combined with other factors that contribute to the development of addiction – genetics, co-occurring mental health disorders, and more – it can ultimately create a community that is overwhelmed with substance abuse and related problems.
Changing the Status Quo
It can take time to make sustainable changes in a community that is struggling due to drug trafficking and drug use. It starts with awareness of the problem, a true understanding of what exactly is facing the community. Tracking rates of overdose, drug-related problems, and drug trafficking arrests can help to highlight the specific substances that may be at the core of the issue. Additionally, it can be helpful to listen to the stories of people who are living in the community and facing a substance use disorder every day.
Next, taking the information gathered and using it to create an actionable plan to address individual issues is essential. This can mean creating an education and awareness campaign in local schools if teen drug use, DUI, or vandalism is a problem. It may mean setting up a shelter and providing food and support for individuals who are homeless and struggling with addiction. It may also mean providing community drug takeback kiosks to remove unused and unwanted prescription drugs from homes, putting naloxone into the hands of local law enforcement, and/or implementing drug court programs to help people who are arrested for drug-related crimes to get treatment that will help them give back to their communities.
What steps are needed to help your community heal from drug abuse and addiction?
Starting at Home
If you, or your loved one, are continually facing consequences of drug use yet are unable to moderate substance use and abuse for any length of time, the best choice is treatment. In some cases, an inpatient drug and alcohol treatment program may be recommended to help you or your family member to “reset” through detox and intensive treatment, but in other cases, it may be more appropriate to take part in an outpatient treatment program that encourages abstinence through randomized drug testing, and provides family support and education as well as treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders.
Just as communities vary in their needs to address a drug use problem, individuals seeking treatment require an individualized treatment plan that will suit their needs. It is important to have a solid understanding of what is available to you and your family during recovery and to thoughtfully choose the best possible drug rehab program.
Is now the time for you to begin the process of connecting with treatment and eliminating the negative consequences of ongoing drug use and abuse in your life?