Home / Opinions / Is it time to change the way America treats drug-using citizens?

Is it time to change the way America treats drug-using citizens?

After years of fighting a drug addiction, Danny Montgomery, 33, is receiving treatment services through Tarzana Treatment Centers. (Anna Gorman/KHN/TNS)

Written by Carlius Williams, Staff Writer

Over the past decade, America has changed its tune on certain drugs, but people are still ending up in jail for these substances more than ever before. Is it time for America to change the way it treats drug-using citizens as well?

A report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse stated that 65 percent of the nation’s inmates meet certain medical criteria for substance abuse and addiction, but only 11 percent received treatment for their addictions. Another report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, found that of the 2.3 million U.S. inmates, 1.5 million suffer from substance abuse addiction and another 458,000 inmates either had histories of substance abuse, were under the influence of alcohol or other drugs at the time of committing their crimes; committed their offenses to get money to buy drugs; were incarcerated for an alcohol or drug violation.

Combined, the two groups make up 85 percent of the U.S. prison population. This is a problem.

With all of the money that is spent on jails, the inmates are not getting the rehabilitation that they need. This is why there are repeat offenders in terms of drug offenders and possession charges.

The war on drugs is more so a war on those who do not seek assistance from an addiction treatment facility.

The sole purpose of sending someone to jail is to make sure they do not get arrested for the same things. It is important to get those prisoners who are repeat drug offenders treatment and not incarcerate them. They should want to function in the workplace and be successful members of the community. By locking them up it only deters the problem that is addiction.

According to drug abuse.gov, methadone treatment has been shown to increase participation in behavioral therapy and decrease both drug use and criminal behavior. If, however, individual treatment outcomes depend on the extent and nature of the patient’s problems, the appropriateness of treatment and related services used to address those problems, and the quality of interaction between the patient and his or her treatment providers.

According to drug abuse.net the drug policies are surely different in other places like Australia who has legalized weed. The Netherlands look at drug abuse as a health issue and not a crime. The country invests more into the treatment of drug addiction and education than it does on imprisonment. The Netherlands is the only country to completely decriminalize the use and sale of marijuana. Switzerland even offers clean needles for users, and places a special emphasis on helping drug addicts receive treatment.

America and Britain, however, are on the complete end of the spectrum. Possession with intent to sell can carry the possibility of life in jail.

Maybe America is becoming less of a power house. Eventually, most Americans will end up in jail if there is more persecution of the ones who resort to constantly doing drugs. The war of drugs should instead become a war for treatment.

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  2. Here are some simple facts:

    Our policy regarding drugs is in the hands of frauds, liars and two bit crooks. Until they are removed from office or/and in handcuffs, poverty will increase, injustice will prevail and perversity will continue to rule.

    A rather large majority of people will always feel the need to use drugs such as heroin, opium, nicotine, amphetamines, alcohol, or caffeine.

    Just as it was impossible to prevent alcohol from being produced and used in the U.S. in the 1920s, so too, it is equally impossible to prevent any of the aforementioned drugs from being produced and widely used by those who desire to do so.

    Due to Prohibition (historically proven to be an utter failure at every level), the availability of most of these mood-altering drugs has become so universal and unfettered that in any city of the civilized world, any one of us would be able to procure practically any drug we wish within an hour.

    The massive majority of people who use drugs do so recreationally – getting high at the weekend then up for work on a Monday morning.

    A very small minority of people will always experience drug use as problematic.

    Throughout history, the prohibition of any mind-altering substance has always exploded usage rates, overcrowded jails, fueled organized crime, created rampant corruption of law-enforcement – even whole governments, while inducing an incalculable amount of suffering and death.

    The involvement of the CIA in running Heroin from Vietnam, Southeast Asia and Afghanistan and Cocaine from Central America has been well documented by the 1989 Kerry Committee report, academic researchers Alfred McCoy and Peter Dale Scott, and the late journalist Gary Webb.

    It’s not even possible to keep drugs out of prisons, but prohibitionists wish to waste hundreds of billions of our money in an utterly futile attempt to keep them off our streets.

    Prohibition kills more people and ruins more lives than the prohibited drugs have ever done.

    The United States jails a larger percentage of it’s own citizens than any other country in the world, including those run by the worst totalitarian regimes, yet it has far higher use/addiction rates than most other countries.

    As with torture, prohibition is a grievous crime against humanity. If you support it, or even simply tolerate it by looking the other way while others commit it, you are an accessory to a very serious moral transgression against humanity.

    The United States re-legalized certain drug use in 1933. That drug was alcohol and the 21st amendment re-legalized its production, distribution and sale. Both alcohol consumption and violent crime dropped immediately as a result. And very soon after, the American economy climbed out of that same prohibition engendered abyss into which it had foolishly fallen.

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