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The Austin Police Department has been aware of the open-air drug market at the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH) for a long time [“APD Alerts Public to Synthetic Marijuana Threat
,” Newsdesk, May 1] . You can buy almost anything you want down there, all day, every day. The reason for this public alert is the fact that it is a drain on the resources of the first responders and emergency rooms – in other words – money. They do seem to prioritize care of the people who are at the ARCH using these drugs or they would clean it up by arresting them or referring them to substance abuse treatment (which is not perfect and also costs money), but these are human beings who often suffer from dual diagnoses of mental illness and the disease of addiction. And, yes, addiction is a disease. It is recognized as such by the AMA and meets all of the criteria of a disease, which are that it is primary, progressive, chronic or permanent, and fatal if untreated. I'm sure after this blows over it will be business as usual at the ARCH again until people are back in the ERs in droves.