Heroin in Black and White by Patrick Janulis
Here is Pat Janulis’s letter to The Wednesday Journal, our local Oak Park and River Forest Newspaper. Here is a link to some responses to Pat’s letter: http://wednesdayjournalonline.com/main.asp?SectionID=3&SubSectionID=17&ArticleID=13568&TM=76999.1
Heroin in Black and White: WJ oversimplifies heroin addiction
The one face of Wednesday Journal’s article “The two faces of Oak Park’s heroin trade” [news, Jan. 21] left me somewhat concerned. While I have multiple objections, what concerned me most was the blatant disregard of the biological, environmental, and social-psychological influences in addiction.
While Police Chief Limon may find it easy and “safe to say” addicts are not “thinking about their future” or concerned about prison and death, had the author familiarized himself with the pertinent scientific studies on the subject or perhaps talked to an individual victimized by addiction, he may have realized addicts’ incredible awareness of the negative consequences of their habitual drug use. This habitual use in the presence and recognition of such negative outcomes is precisely why scientists have come to study the overwhelming environmental and biological influences in addiction.
What the literature also suggests is that individuals who stigmatize and blame addicts for their disease, as I would argue this article does, often inhibit addicts from seeking help. Addiction is not a moral deficit; the same policies that enforce harsher and harsher penalties for drug addiction greatly marginalize addicted individuals and force them into high risk scenarios and illegitimate forms of income such as the crimes this article seems so concerned about. Similar to U.S. policy, perhaps this article would do more justice to the problems of addiction if it placed less emphasis on persecuting addicts and more emphasis on helping them.