Every twelve-stepper has heard the adage addiction will end with “jail. Institutions, or death” According to Thaddeus Camlin, PsyD. in his article: Jails, Institutions, and Death: Did 12-step Programs Get it Wrong, he claimed: “it is an inarguable fact that most people try drugs (86% try alcohol) and most who try drugs do not end incarcerated, institutionalized, or dead from drug use.” And yet the jails are full of people because of drug offenses. Statistically, there are close to a half million people incarcerated in America on non-violent drug offenses and yet 86% of people will try drugs. 45.5% of arrests made are for drug offenses and in 2017 over one million arrests were made for drug possession alone. That is 84.4% of arrests made in America. (Suchitra Rajagopalan, Drug Policy Alliance)
Non-violent drug offenses aside, there is an undeniable difference to drug use and substance addiction. In 1956 alcoholism was deemed and disease and in 1987 addiction was added to that category (AMA). It is widely accepted that addiction has reached epidemic levels in the United States. But, as a society, should we be looking at drug use and addiction as a criminal? Or should we look at drug use/addiction from an entirely different perspective? Or should drug use and addiction be looked at as two entirely different organisms and dealt with in entirely different ways?
Let’s take Portugal for an example. In 2001 Portugal became the first country to decriminalize possession of drugs for personal use and saw a drop in HIV, hepatitis C, overdoses, and drug-related crimes. (Susan Ferreira, The Long Read, The Guardian). In fact, the cases of HIV per year went from 104.2 to 4.2 per year. The opioid crisis has stabilized in Portugal and addiction is now looked at as a “person with drug or alcohol issue” as opposed to a criminal act. Portugal offered alternatives to a rising epidemic that the United States is facing now. People in Portugal are now offered rehabilitation, counseling, detoxification, treatment, and education. Can we, as a society, change our perspective and treat drug use and addiction as a behavioral/humanitarian issue as opposed to criminal activity? Addiction is readily accepted by the American Medical Association as a disease. It is time it is treated as such.
Drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers have sprung up all over the United States – Southern California is a hotbed of rehabs. These facilities offer huge benefits to the person with substance abuse issues: detox, counseling, therapy, etc. Treatment can offer enormous benefits to someone struggling with addiction. It can be a welcome reprieve for both the addict and the addict’s loved ones.
Treatment centers, like Iris Healing Retreat, can offer anyone suffering from addiction a helping hand in dealing with the issues of addiction because they allow the addict to face issues that were previously unaddressed: such as; trauma, depression, PTSD and addiction, etc.
Incarcerating someone for a non-violent drug-related crime (possession, recreational use, etc.) is absolutely counter-intuitive to actually combating a rising epidemic. Addiction is a disease and it should be treated as a disease and not a criminal act. Treatment seems the only acceptable and humane answer to someone that is struggling with the disease of addiction.
Let’s separate the recreational drug users and persons with substance abuse issues and deal with them accordingly. Let’s not toss someone in jail for using a substance and if someone is struggling with addiction let’s find them the appropriate care and treatment.
If you need additional information on how to pursue rehab instead of jail time or want to know more about admissions in our holistic rehab center, call Iris Healing Retreat at (818) 435-3936.