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‘Yes’ on State Issue 1

Dear Editor:

Starting at 17, I battled addiction for nearly a decade, and during that time I was in and out of county jails and state prisons without getting any real help for my problem. Local police officers, who knew me and my family, wrote me off as a lost cause and said that I would be found dead somewhere. They thought I was going to end up as another statistic.

People in prison and jail, like I was, are not getting the proper treatment for their addiction and mental health problems. They are being penalized for having a disease, instead of treated for one. The system is broken, and the “yes” vote on State Issue 1 will provide more dollars for treatment, and more opportunities to get help instead of being punished in jail and prison and being thrown back into the relentless cycle of incarceration and relapse. Columbiana County, where I’m from, did not even have a treatment center. As I called treatment centers in the state, I was faced with waiting lists — some as long as 50 days.

Fortunately, my story has a happy ending. I’ve been clean and sober for two years. I have a one-year old baby boy.

I got help after relapsing following my final stint in jail, because my family and my church helped raise the money I needed to get into treatment. Instead of two years, if I got the right treatment at the beginning of my battle with addiction, I would be clean and sober today for four or five years. With a “yes” on State Issue 1, we will have more people whose story can end up in victory and not tragedy. We have to make changes. The path to recovery is already extremely hard, but we can help more people by providing more treatment opportunities.

I want others to get help now. A “yes” on State Issue 1 will mean moving nonviolent addicts out of prison cells and into treatment centers in their community where their chances to be sober and straight are exponentially better.

Mitzi Stoddard

East Liverpool

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