`Michael Botticelli is his name and he is not a cop. He is lucky he didn’t go to jail himself. 21 million Americans are addicted to drugs or booze. Half of all Federal inmates are in for drug convictions. This guy is pushing that our problems are from a brain disease and not from moral failings. It is not about bad people who are continuing to use alcohol or drugs because they lack willpower. We don’t expect people who have cancer to jut stop having cancer. Addiction changes your brain in the part that is responsible for judgement. This is the essence of Michael Botticelli’s approach to the epidemic. He advocates patience not prison. He did it in Massachusetts as Director of Substance Abuse Services.
He wants a court where treatment can be chosen over jail time and the charges can be dropped. Over the last year some people have been angry believing that he wants to simply open up the jails and let all the drug addicts out. He believes that getting people away from the jails can actually reduce jail time for addicts. In 1988 Michael was a drunk driver and crashed into a truck. He admits that he was drinking for many years. He knows that drinking and drugs make you feel good until it doesn.t anymore and you realize it is too late and you have lost your money, friends, lovers, possession’s in the process and the feel bad outweighs the feel good part.
After being handcuffed to a gurney with no money left he was grateful to be able to start a 12 step program to control the addiction. It was the first time he raised his hand and said he was an alcoholic. When people surround you and say they will help you and we will get through it rather than being alone in a cold jail cell you feel like it is not over and there is hope for you to change for the better. Jail simply makes you mean and bitter. He has been alcohol free for 27 years. Today he oversees a 26 Million dollar budget over 16 government agencies where about half of the money goes to drug enforcement. Prescription pain killers need to be controlled more and as a result, the use of heroine would stop too. Heroin is cheaper to get than prescription pain killers.
More than 120 Americans die each day from an overdose. That is more than car wrecks or gun violence. Michael wants to arm each police officer with Naloxozone a nasal spray to revive an overdose symptom. It works to revive an unconscious addict within 45 seconds. Michael also created the Good Samaritan Law which is a change in the law where someone can call 911 and report finding drugs and not get arrested. Today 31 states have a similar 911 law. He is also a gay man who has lived with his partner for over 20 years and has helped in the gay rights movement. It is the legal drugs that kill most of Americans each year.