Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Impact of Substance Abuse

This issue of substance abuse is a major issue, and one of the most significant policy issues facing the legislature which I have seen first hand in my capacity on several legislative committees.

Having served on the Homeland Security Committee, I can speak to the fact that much cost is placed on the taxpayers by those who choose to engage in illegal substance abuse even though they are not caught or incarcerated. The obvious cost of their action is to force a large level of investment in law enforcement resources. However, a not so obvious cost is the destruction and devastation being caused to so many lives because these individuals are in fact funding the criminals who are providing the illegal substance.

This really hit home recently when an acquaintance of some of my friends was killed in Mexico by Mexican drug cartels when they mistakenly identified him as an opponent. To add insult to injury his friends and family proceeded to become possible targets of the cartel as the drug runners no doubt feared their potential testimony.

These groups are being funded by the Americans' who are engaging in drug use. I believe the individuals that are thoughtlessly funding these groups through their purchases of illegal drugs are responsible third parties to this death and destruction.

As a member of the Human Services Committee, I saw first hand the level of stress that is placed on the Department of Human Services as they fight a losing battle against the havoc wreaked on families by substance abuse. As a member of the Criminal Justice and Corrections Committee, I know the challenge faced by the state's corrections system as a tremendous burden is being placed on the taxpayer for the ever increasing cost of incarcerating so many Oklahomans.

I think this can be largely attributed to the fact that traditional values are coming under attack like never before. In bygone days those who were tempted to engage in substance abuse would probably have a strong family and church structure that could provide them with the support that they needed. Now days, as family values continue to face attack on all fronts that support network continues to crumble.

The government either through incarceration or human services is little substitute for the family and the church. As in all too many other areas the government is simply ineffective in dealing with these issues.

Do we really want the organization that runs the local bureaucracy also in charge of trying to change peoples lives?

Unless people's hearts change there is little that the government can do. This is where the church must step in, in order to encourage people to commit their lives to God and receive the help that only He can provide.

Ultimately the answers to these issues must be provided by individuals of faith. And, I believe it is important for state government to allow easy access to the faith community to both the state's human services and corrections networks.

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