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Stop treating drug addiction as a criminal issue

The Hazlet Township Committee in Monmouth County is on the right track in planning to offer recovery counselors to persons facing a heroin overdose, or persons who they say might come into a police station looking for addiction help, which is currently unlikely, due to the risk of arrest for the addict. Aberdeen, Union Beach, Keyport and Matawan also plan to join this effort.

While it is a well-intentioned plan, the fact is that it will be counterproductive to keep treating addiction as a criminal issue, if society wants to offer addicts help. One cannot act to rehabilitate if a criminal prosecution is pending.

These towns should go one step further and implement a new formal policy —anyone found to be solely in possession of heroin will not face any criminal charges if they agree to comply with a treatment referral.

Saving lives is more important than generating fine revenue.

Rev. Dr. Eric Hafner
Toms River

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