The statistics are alarming. According to the Prison Policy Initiative, 1 in 5 inmates in America’s local jails, state and federal prisons are incarcerated for drug offenses. These inmates are serving harsh sentences, many for nonviolent crimes such as possession. It is time that we take a step back and evaluate whether this is the most effective way to curb the drug problem in the country.
Drug Addiction is a Health Care Issue
When an individual chooses to take an illegal drug for the first time, they have no intention of becoming addicted. Most people are just curious as to the drug’s effects. Some feel pressured by friends, and others are looking for relief from mental disorders. No matter the reason, addiction begins as a result of poor choices. Drug addiction has far reaching effects, as well.
The continued exposure to dangerous ingredients found in illegal substances put the addict at risk for other health issues, such as lung disease, cardiovascular disease and even cancer. The damage is not limited to the addict, either. Families and loved ones often pay the price when it comes to their addicted loved one.
One issue with incarcerating drug addicts is the fact that prison does not solve the addiction. When inmates are released, many go back to the very drug use that landed them in prison. Often, they use the same amount of the drug they were using when they were arrested, but since they have been without the drug for some time, the body cannot handle being exposed to so much of the drug at once. This leads to overdose and death.
One way to combat this is to treat drug addicts for substance abuse disorders while imprisoned. However, The National Academy of Sciences report of Medications for Opioid Use Disorder discovered some troubling statistics. This report found that only 5% of incarcerated individuals receive medical treatment for addiction.
There is much work to be done in our criminal justice system to adequately address the issue of nonviolent offenses. If you are facing a drug charge and need representation, call the office of Jeff Manciagli today at (404) 642-9080 to schedule your consultation.
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