Approximately 66% of Americans believe that addicts need treatment and not jail sentencing, according to a study conducted by Pew Research Center Statistics. The study shows that the way citizens view addiction is turning over a new leaf. The White House also supports the idea. In 2015, they proposed the drug mitigation strategy aimed at setting aside funds for treatment and prevention. The approach notes, “substance abuse is not only a criminal offense but also a public concern.” Past researchers have shown that addiction is both treatable and preventable as any other disease.”
Despite the growing support for the compassionate approach in combating drug addition, there is a strong need to change how we treat addicts. In most cases, we focus on what meets the eye, judging them as weak and immoral instead of identifying real problem behind their actions.
The following are three wrong approaches we use to punish addicts that need to stop.
Defining Addiction as Criminal Behavior
Addiction is a health issue, not a criminal one. When we put an addict in jail for minor crimes such as possession, much less for getting a felony for minor crimes, we inhibit their resources toward finding employment and housing in order to lead a successful life. Addicts commit crimes because they have no other resources available to treat their addiction, certainly not because addicts themselves are inherently criminal in their behavior. Jail time drains the taxpayer instead of helping addicts recover, and jail is not a good environment to find help. The funds used for incarceration and criminal activity if used to treat them could save billions. Moreover, it makes them accountable for their actions reducing their chances of going back to drugs.