Addiction is a Treatable Condition, Not a Moral Failing

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America is a “dog eat dog” society where survival of the fittest is the norm. People expect to be rewarded for their hard work and punished when the law is broken. Rarely is compassion or caring elements of our decision-making process. We are a society of laws and expect them to be obeyed or pay the consequences. There are, however, times when a little compassion might go a long way to prevent laws from being broken in the future. One of those ways is to treat DUI arrests, not only as a violation of the law but also as an opportunity to require that a person with a sickness get help. Rather than treating a DUI arrest as merely a crime, we could also recognize substance abuse as a disease. Rather than incarcerating DUI offenders, we could be requiring that they undergo meaningful mental health treatment.

DUI aside, substance abuse is a growing problem in America. Statistics show that approximately 20% of all adults in America are addicted to one dangerous substance or another. From alcohol to prescription pills, marijuana to heroin, Americans regularly abuse drugs as part of their everyday lifestyle. It is estimated that substance abuse costs our nation over $750 billion per year when measured in terms of crimes committed, reduced work productivity, and increased healthcare costs. Reducing substance abuse could have profound economic benefits to society.

Psychological dependence on drugs like pain killers, cocaine, heroine, and alcohol makes legal deterrents useless. Most substance abuse addicts would rather risk spending time in jail then doing without their evening happy hour cocktail, their prescription pain medication and sometimes both. While no one is ready to decriminalize illegal substances, maybe we can have the best of both worlds. Why not integrate substance abuse treatment with mandatory existing DUI incarceration laws? Currently, the length of one’s sentence is determined by a judge. This could be augmented on a case by case basis by a psychologist that works with the inmate to determine their degree of addiction. When a person is determined by a medical professional to have their substance addiction under control, the person can be released on probation. We would then by enforcing the law and also treating substance abuse as a sickness and exercising a little caring and compassion.


Guest Contributor
Guest Contributor