Riots and Recovery

I work in the now-infamous, riot-riddled city of Baltimore.

All day yesterday, our retinas were assaulted with a steady stream of live, commercial-free video violence. One piece of footage stood out as a metaphor with a megaphone: The local CBS affiliate showed looters invading various corner liquor stores and coming out with bottles waving in a bloodthirsty celebration of pure chaos. One rioter was waving his arms like a mock conductor, leading a symphony of anarchy.

Substance abuse is no longer just another problem; it’s a problem that begets problems, as it underlies nearly every major issue of disarray in the state from crime to poverty and just about every point in between.

Sure, there is injustice. Yep, there are problems with police. Oh and yes, we can point to politics, bureaucrats, media sensationalism, economic inequality, and a myriad of other issues.

But nothing quite fuels the riot fires that we saw last night like drugs and alcohol.

Here are some facts from National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD):

FACT: Each year, more than 600,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.

FACT: 95% of all violent crime on college campuses involves the use of alcohol by the assailant, victim or both.

FACT: 90% of acquaintance rape and sexual assault on college campuses involves the use of alcohol by the assailant, victim or both.

FACT: Every day, 36 people die, and approximately 700 are injured, in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. Drinking and drugged driving is the number one cause of death, injury and disability of young people under the age of 21.

The connection between substances and crime is clear. And, so is the connection between addiction and crime.

The city’s woes may be highlighted when a riot breaks out. But they are there every single day and we hear them loud and clear in the courtrooms. The vast majority of cases heard are connected in some way to substance abuse run amuck.

Right Turn-IMPACT exists to break the chain of addiction and in doing so, break the chain that links drug addiction and crime. Why we do what we do may have been accentuated yesterday, but it exists everyday. And until we take recovery seriously, my guess is we’ll continue to see more of the same.

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