I am at it again, trying to keep a nice young man from a great family out of prison. Again. He awaits his fate. Again. And he is not alone. So many of the people addicted to opiates cycle in and out of the drug and in and out of the justice system. They fight the addiction like we were trained to fight in the Army. One battle at a time. Regroup. Be ready to fight again another day.

So on Sunday I watched CBS Sunday Morning’s report on the effort to hold Big Pharma responsible for unleashing this plague on all of us. If you are in this fight, check out their report for your self to see how similar this battle is to that against Big Tobacco.

But on our home front – representing folks addicted to opiates – we face a criminal justice system that is focused on prison. There is some chance at rehabilitation, but usually, it is for first-time offenders. The criminal justice system treats the addiction as a moral lapse, not a medical crisis. Most addicts are their own worst enemies, not because they don’t want to quit, but because the drugs control their lives and they can’t quit. Cannot. At least it seems that way.

So the battle is real.

If you are a soldier in the opioid crisis – better prepare for battle. Here are three steps to help  you to deal with the addiction and the system:

First – get into treatment. NA? Yes. Right now. Read the rest of this when you come back from that first meeting.  AA? Absolutely. Get in your car and get there. And a real substance abuse treatment program. Find one. Beg or borrow the money (please don’t steal it) and get into treatment. With opiates, you need at least an intensive outpatient program.

Next – go clean now. Not just clean in the sense of not using, but clean as in “tell your family and friends you need help.” Clean. Sleep on the living room floor while your loved ones watch over you and pray for you and feed you. They will do it, even if you have been a total jerk for the past couple years as you used, but denied using. Love has a way of understanding even criminal behavior.

Finally – if the man is after you, get a lawyer. You need help and advice and someone with experience in court can make the difference between freedom and confinement.

The battle takes place on all these fronts. Treatment is a battle. It costs and it takes work. Staying clean is a battle. It hurts and every day you will want to use and then lie to your family and friends. You are not fooling family or friends. And if you are in a battle with the law, you cannot fool the law either. So toughen up. Clean up. Truth up.

One day at a time.