Congressman’s wife’s arrest shines light on mental health issues

Many of us n Tampa have made the less than two-hour drive to visit Disney World. While theme park is known for bringing smiles to the faces of visitors, it was recently the site of the arrest of U.S. Rep. Darren Soto’s wife Amanda on a charge of disorderly intoxication.

The congressman later released a statement that his wife has been dealing with mental health issues for years and that she regrets the actions that led to her arrest. The case will, hopefully, serve as reason for people to reflect on the struggles many have with depression, self-medication, addiction and sometimes arrests.

Soto is not a dangerous criminal and is not accused of harming anyone. According to a news report, she was at Disney Springs with her mother. The two were apparently intoxicated and became aggressive towards one another.

A sheriff’s deputy saw Soto “holding … her mother by the straps of the backpack she was wearing in an attempt to keep her from walking away." Again, there was no physical harm done.

But the case highlights a path many people are on — and struggle to get off of — in which substance abuse sometimes leads to encounters with law enforcement officials.

In this case, the struggle with substance abuse resulted in a disorderly intoxication charge, but for other people in other situations, their struggles can result arrests and then appearances in drug court.

Let’s face it: not everyone arrested deserves punishment. Some simply require treatment for mental health or substance abuse (or both). Provisions for these folks are made in Florida drug court diversion programs that enable eligible people to avoid incarceration.

You can speak with an attorney experienced in helping clients enter the diversion programs that often turn out to be life-changing.


Categorized in: