In America, most people with substance abuse problems who are apprehended by the forces of law and order end up in prison cells. This is one issue some researchers and medical experts have decried for a long time. To them, people suffering from drug abuse need help dealing with the problem rather than punishment for something they struggle to deal with. But there becomes an intriguing twist when illegal drugs get into the picture. It becomes extremely difficult reconciling helping people with a drug problem, and helping people who deal with illegal drugs.
Of course, dealing with illegal drugs is a crime that necessitates some sort of punishment. In America, that punishment is jail time, and that is where medical experts see a problem. Jail time will cost taxpayers a lot more every year, but it wouldn’t really to make addicts stop. In fact, in a Pew report published as recently as June 2017, the rate of drug abuse doesn’t change when and where people are served jail terms for addiction.
Researchers argue that putting people in prison for substance abuse does not reduce their substance abuse; neither does it reduce the rate of people dying from drug overdose. It also does not reduce the rate at which people get arrested for the “crime.”
According to these researchers, treatment interventions have proven to be quite effective in dealing with the problem. They are now advocating for lawmakers to come up with legislation that will help people with substance problems get treatment rather than punishment.
How successful such a request can be remains unclear, but the researchers think they are making a point in their advocacy. Does putting drug offenders in prison fix America’s substance abuse problem? The researchers think the response to this question is negative.