Breaking Down Barriers: Scope of drug addiction ‘hard to quantify’

Breaking Down Barriers: Scope of drug addiction ‘hard to quantify’

From the Las Vegas Optic

Editor’s note: The following is Part 1 in a series. In the coming weeks, the Optic will explore drug and alcohol addiction in San Miguel and Mora counties, hear stories from police and prosecutors, health care providers and by those struggling with addiction. We’ll explore the roots of addiction, what’s being done about it and take a look at how other communities are addressing addiction.

The San Miguel County Detention Center had 1,812 total criminal bookings in 2019, ranging from petty misdemeanors to first-degree murder. Of those booked into SMCDC in 2019, about 8 percent were charged with at least one drug-related crime, and many individuals faced multiple drug charges. These charges ranged from possession of drug paraphernalia to possession of controlled substances and trafficking of controlled substances.

The circumstances that led to these charges varied. In some cases, charges were filed following traffic stops. In others, those booked for drug-related crimes were initially arrested for committing other crimes, like theft. Others were specific targets of lengthy investigations by local law enforcement or federal authorities.

Not reflected in that 8 percent figure is non-drug offenses committed by someone supporting a debilitating drug addiction, and according to Tom Clayton, deputy district attorney with the Fourth Judicial District Attorney’s Office, crimes like burglary, breaking and entering or other property crimes are often committed by individuals who are struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol.