Over the course of a single weekend, border patrol agents near Laredo seized a literal ton of marijuana with an estimated street value of almost $2 million in three different busts. The largest of the three busts yielded $1.3 million of marijuana and one arrest.
Later that day, agents tried to stop the driver of a pickup truck, but the driver ran and then abandoned the car, leaving behind $300,000 of marijuana. Another 80 pounds of marijuana were found in a car pulled over for a traffic violation, identified by drug-sniffing dogs; the driver was arrested.
But it’s not just marijuana that has kept border agents busy this month. Almost $4 million worth of liquid methamphetamine, or about 164.5 pounds, was seized by US Customs and Border Protection agents at the border crossing, found by a drug-sniffing dog. The driver of the vehicle was arrested.
Huge amounts of all kinds of drugs come into the United States by way of the Texas/Mexico border, and for many communities in the area, the result has been a struggle with high rates of substance use and abuse.
How has your community been impacted?
Costs to the Community
Even if you do not know anyone who is struggling with a substance use disorder, your community is being deeply impacted and so is your pocketbook. The costs of law enforcement to address the problem (including the cost of local law enforcement officers, courts, jail, and more), the costs of child welfare agencies when parents are impacted, and the loss of taxes and local business income due to lost productivity – all this adds up quickly.
Additionally, when there are drugs easily available in the community, rates of drug use rise among young people. When that happens, it can mean fewer kids graduating from high school, much less going on to be successful in college, higher rates of crime, and increased admissions to hospital emergency rooms for treatment due to overdose and other drug-related medical emergencies. This costs the community as well, taking a toll on local budgets, increasing the cost of healthcare, and decreasing the amount of money available for community enhancement.
Costs to the Family
When a family has a loved one who is living with a substance use disorder, the toll is emotional and physical as well as financial. Many family members who function as caregivers to loved ones with an addiction are unable to prioritize their own physical or mental health. They are unable to give 100 percent to their jobs and often lose them as a result or miss out on opportunities for advancement. If the person living with addiction is violent or emotionally abusive, as is often the case, it can be difficult to discern what is normal and what is not, and to make positive and healthy choices about how to move forward.
A Personal Toll
If you are living with an active addiction, your physical and mental health are in peril every day. Between the acute effects of the most recent dose and the cumulative effects of ongoing drug use, lack of positive nutrition, and restorative sleep, a medical or mental health emergency can strike at any time. It is not always easy to recognize a crisis when you are in the midst of one, and for this reason, family members and close friends can play an important role in facilitating the move to treatment.
For family members and close friends of people living with an addiction, denial can make it difficult to recognize the need to change. Change is hard, and treatment can feel like an extreme measure, but substance use and addiction create extreme consequences and the need for a big response.
The good news is that there are treatment programs that can help your loved one stop using all illicit substances safely and help you to begin your own healing process. It takes time to rebuild your life after a loved one experiences addiction, and it can take time for your loved one to create a new sense of normal. Your support can help. Is today the day you learn how to help your loved one connect with treatment that can put your whole family on the right track and help your community to heal as well?