Getting Stronger

Treat Addiction, Don’t Punish It

Posted by on Nov 21, 2017 in Addiction Treatment | 0 comments

After decades fighting the war on drugs, there is a definite perception in this country that those who are addicted to illegal substances deserve the harshest possible punishments for their crimes. It is that mentality that encouraged mandatory minimum sentencing, and it is that mentality that filled our jails to the point of busting with nonviolent criminals.

The truth is, we don’t need to jail addicts, we need to treat them.

Now, that statement isn’t meant to be used to dismiss the pain addicts cause or the other crimes they commit in the name of their addiction. Obviously, the former is a sad fact of the world, and the latter should require some amount of punishment, although leniency is recommended there as well.

So, how do we treat addicts? Firstly, we need to stop thinking of them as an evil singular idea. Addicts are as diverse as any other group of people. They can be rich or poor (although obviously, they are more often on the poorer end of the scale). They can be any race. They can have any belief system or none at all. They could have had all the advantages or none of them. Addiction can show up in any sort of person, which means that addicts should be treated by a variety of methods.

It is the rigidness of the demands for treatment that make it hard for some addicts to recover. If they don’t fit in well with the 12 Step program (which is wonderful for many addicts but not for all), they can feel they have nowhere else to go.

Instead of putting our resources into more jail cells to hold these suffering people, we should put that money into a diverse set of programs that give addicts options. Such programs can be any number of different kinds of group therapy groups as well as private therapy groups. Social workers should be more involved. There should be more room, as well, for less traditional methods to find a foothold. There has been, for instance, a lot of success for addicts with hypnotism.

With these new options established, and a societal shift toward a more understanding and less judgmental attitude in general towards addicts, far more people will be able to pull themselves away from the drugs that hold them down and return to normal, productive lives.

With the ongoing opioid crisis ravaging much of America, this societal shift is already starting to take place. As more people discover they know someone who struggles with addiction, attitudes are rapidly changing. Now, all that needs to change are the laws.

Less punishment, more treatment, and more options: that’s a recipe that can save a lot of lives. And with those saved lives, there will be many advantages for all of society. Less crime, more involvement from more people in the community, and more people trying to live out the American Dream.

That’s what we all want, right?

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