The burden of drug addiction is one that is incredibly difficult for anyone to bear. Many people see the grasp of addiction for what it really is, an ailment that must be remedied through treatment and rehabilitation. But with 30 years of failing drug policy and the government's take on substance abuse as a criminal act, it's clear that there are an abundance of conflicting opinions as to how to derail this epidemic.
One major contributor in the startling quantity of drug arrests made nationwide is law enforcement's crack-down on addicted users. Drug-related arrests have consistently risen over the years, establishing America as the country with the largest prison system and the country with the most federal spent on the drug war. Federal grants incentivize drug arrests, placing a focus on the number of people arrested, rather than an emphasis on abating community crime rates. Also, a horde of drug possession arrests made on behalf of one officer may look more productive than a counterpart who made an arrest for a theft crime that is under investigation.
Nevertheless, the irony of the dismal relationship between drug addicts and police officers rests in the fact that that an extensive amount of officers are silently fighting substance addiction themselves. A study conducted by the National Library of Medicine analyzed the careers and industries with the highest rates of substance dependence. Findings revealed that law enforcement personnel ranked very highly due to the consistent level of crime and extreme events police officers frequently witness. The infamous case of FBI agent Matthew Lowry offers an interesting take on how police officers relentlessly enforce the laws that they themselves violate.
Lowry's addiction to drugs had started like many others - with prescription medication. Chronic inflammation in his intestines had introduced him to painkillers, which he soon became addicted to. He recalls interrogating a man who, too, had a family, a profession and an addiction to prescribed pills. That man would end up in prison - a fate Lowry knew he also would face if he was caught. When he couldn't take pain medication anymore, he turned to heroin.
For a year, Lowry had stolen heroin from his FBI office without anyone batting an eye. He was only caught after overdosing on the drug in an empty construction lot in Southeast Washington. His arrest led to the dismissed cases of 28 drug defendants, many of whom were previously convicted. After being fired by the FBI, he awaits his sentencing by the federal court after pleading guilty to 64 criminal charges, including tampering of evidence and the possession of drugs.
“When I was in narcotics, I had very little compassion for people who were drug abusers,” Lowry said. “As a cop, I never understood how you could take the things that were important to you, your family, your job, your integrity, your career, your life, and push that all aside.”
But after Lowry's experience, he has gained a different perspective on people addicted to drugs.
“It's people with families,” he said. “Regular members of society. People like me.”
If you have been charged with a drug-related offense, you should consult with an attorney. Call the Seattle law office of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 or contact him online.