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.