Ending the Cycle of Addiction
Addiction has countless causes and effects. We regularly see the effects of addiction in the types of cases that come through the Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office. Some cases are straightforward such as charges of possession of a controlled substance or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Others cases involve correlating crimes such as larceny, breaking and entering, intimate partner violence, or malicious wounding. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc., 80% of criminal offenders abuse drugs or alcohol.
In March 2017, the Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Office in partnership with judges, the department of probation and parole, behavioral health services, and other agencies started our first drug court. Drug court provides intensive treatment and services to offenders already on probation with the goal of getting the offender off drugs. Support services will include regular judicial interaction, drug testing, substance abuse treatment, and immediate reward or punishment based on performance. We understand that these individuals will almost certainly relapse. Instead of the typical probation violation process where the defendant is given a brief period of jail and then released, this program seeks to utilize other tools at our disposal to keep the defendant on the path to sobriety. Once sober the defendant can become a productive, taxpaying member of our society and not return to the criminal justice system. This is a goal everyone in the community should support.
Also in 2017 I began working with the Lynchburg Opioid Coalition to address the specific issue of opiate addiction in our community. The Coalition includes health care professionals and law enforcement who work to understand the cause of the opiate addiction problems in central Virginia and how to effectively address the causes and effects. Medical providers have revised how they prescribe certain pain medication and how they educate their patients about the dangers of addiction.