Respect and substance abuse

Respect and substance abuse

Candidates for District Court 1 judgeship do not agree on the top issue facing the court: Respect, opioids or alcohol. Let’s look at the latest report from the Washington Poison Center (WPC) in Seattle for a state-wide perspective.

In their 2017 Annual Toxic Trend Report, there were over 2,300 exposures for cannabis (agents related to pot), opioids (drugs related to morphine and heroin), and nicotine and e-cigarettes. Note that “exposures” or reactions to all substances included everything from a skin rash to stomach upset to stopping breathing. Alcohol was not mentioned but there are many known related problems for alcohol including poor personal health, motor vehicle accidents, legal issues, financial ruin and chronic alcoholism.

Pick your poison I guess. Opioid issues involve prescriptions as well as street drugs. For all of these there is an antidote, naloxone, which can be administered by a member of the public as well as a police officer who might arrive on the scene first. Pot was voted in by Washington state. What’s next? Heroin or peyote? The Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies pot with those dangerous substances and others since Schedule I is based on acceptable use, or not, and risk of addiction. Even if you believe that adults can use pot, the greatest number of cannabis exposures by the WPC was for children under the age of five. This age group also had the most exposures for nicotine and e-cigarettes which were largely by ingestion. This is not okay.

It is likely that the courts are faced with all of these items and along with each is a healthy dose of disrespect. The message is that treating every person with respect is ideal, remembering that the dangers of each of these substances merit treating them with respect too.

Janet Schade