Recently The Citizen published the letter of a young woman who lost her sister to addiction. I reached out to Ms. Hopp before submitting my thoughts to this paper. The tragedy of that young woman — to have a relapse triggered by an injury — underscores the true nature of the opioid crisis that we face as a community. Addiction takes many faces, and we must reject the "fake news" that addiction is a choice — that addicts can simply choose to stop using. In my practice I have seen many cases where there was no choice; all it takes is a car accident and years of sobriety can be lost.
The second reality we must face is that opioid addiction is widespread. It is not just heroin, but fentanyl, and a variety of other prescription drugs. Many cases of prescription abuse are the result of over-prescribed medication. In fact, it is likely that you, kind reader, have a friend or family member affected by opioid addiction in some way. The problem is real, and it is serious.
Finally, we need to embrace new approaches to recovery. It must begin with treatment. From there, we need to explore — as a community — new solutions. That is why I am running for district attorney; as the chief prosecutor for Cayuga County, the office of the district attorney has an important role in setting policy for how drug offenses are handled. Over the past 12 years, we have had policies that allow drug dealers to go on probation and we have sent addicts to prison.
If I am elected, I promise to make the opioid epidemic a priority, because nobody should have to bury their daughter.
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Thomas Turturo is a candidate for Cayuga County district attorney.