Pubdate: Sun, 09 Aug 2015
Source: Boston Globe (MA)
Copyright: 2015 Globe Newspaper Company
Author: Steven W. Tompkins


I must confess that, on occasion, I have shaken my head in despair 
over the very people who Yvonne Abraham describes as looking "broken 
and wasted" in her poignant column regarding the use of methadone to 
combat heroin addiction ("Shame clouds their recovery," Metro, Aug. 
2). The Suffolk County House of Correction at South Bay is bracketed 
by three methadone clinics, which affords me, my employees, our 
neighbors, and the thousands of commuters who regularly traverse this 
section of Massachusetts Avenue a firsthand look at those who go in and out.

Sadly, I also see many addicted individuals pass through the doors of 
my correctional facilities for reasons that are directly related to 
this destructive drug use. It can be difficult not to feel despair 
when you regularly witness the extent of the damage that addiction to 
heroin and other opioids has inflicted upon so many young and promising lives.

Whether you believe that methadone is an effective treatment for 
addiction, we as a society have to realize that rampant opioid abuse 
is making "nodding wraiths," as Abraham writes, and ultimately 
criminals out of far too many of our neighbors, friends, and family members.

Approximately 70 percent of the current inmate population in Suffolk 
County have used and abused drugs and alcohol. Regrettably, many of 
them are likely to reengage in drug use and eventual criminal 
activity soon after release, unless we can successfully address their 

That's why I dedicate extensive resources to address substance abuse 
and addiction, as do other sheriffs in Massachusetts. Although we 
sheriffs work hard to rehabilitate the people in our care who have 
substance dependencies, we know firsthand that people hooked on drugs 
need treatment, not prisons. Given the alternative, any and all 
options are worth pursuing, including methadone.

Steven W. Tompkins

Suffolk County sheriff

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