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Why drug busts lead to more overdoses and less help for communities

On Behalf of | Jul 30, 2023 | Criminal Defense

In states everywhere, including Louisiana, law enforcement continues cracking down on drugs like methamphetamine, fentanyl and opioids. It might seem like large-scale busts throughout the United States are getting drugs off the street and benefiting those in the grip of addiction. However, data shows that busts could be making many things worse.

Drug busts remain celebrated news stories

You’ve likely seen videos or read news stories about drug busts. These situations involve law enforcement identifying and collecting drugs from small-level dealers to large-scale traffickers. Sometimes, law enforcement and politicians will celebrate drug busts.

Desperate people continue finding drugs

One often-cited benefit of drug busts is that they help reduce and prevent people from overdosing. But a new and rigorously reviewed study looking over data throughout Indianapolis, Indiana, claims that drug busts aren’t as beneficial as people think. This study shows that, after drug busts, most users simply look for new sources. These sources may be unfamiliar and less reliable than established sellers.

Overdoses often increase after busts

After a drug bust is complete, it’s understandable to assume that overdoses would slow down if not stop completely. Again, the previously mentioned study shows that overdoses can and often rapidly rise after drug busts. After someone’s dealer receives drug charges, these users find new dealers potentially offering lower-quality drugs that could contain deadly substances.

Another problem involves increased urges for a drug that can happen when someone suddenly stops using it. If a bust leads people to go without drugs for a short period, they’ll often buy and use more when they finally get their hands on these substances. Combining a heightened appetite for a drug with a potential wave of low-quality dealers often results in a spike in overdoses.

Experts want law enforcement to change the way it handles drug busts. Some are calling for better police responses after drug busts to save lives and prevent a rise in potential overdoses. Another recommendation to stop this problem is having law enforcement partner closely with public health agencies.