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Letter to the Editor: I support Issue 1

When people overdose, we see them as victims. When they are arrested in Ohio with low-level, non-violent drug possession, we see them as criminals.  We can do better.

As a primary care physician, I support Issue 1 because it halts the cycle of trauma and incarceration that often leads to drug use in the first place while also providing greater access to rehabilitation.

My patients who have chronic diseases such as diabetes and depression have better results when we address all the factors that impact their health.

If we know this approach works for chronic diseases, why don’t we treat the chronic disease of addiction with the same comprehensive approach? Instead, Ohio criminalizes and stigmatizes this chronic health condition – treating a public health issue with criminal justice interventions.    

The right path is to provide comprehensive, community-based medical care to people living with substance abuse that integrates rehabilitation, preventative care and chronic disease management, including addressing the high prevalence of complex psychiatric issues this population faces.

Burdening the prison health system with people who should be effectively treated in the community is not the answer. Let’s treat these people with dignity and compassion, not incarcerate them.  

That’s why I support Issue 1.

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