Opioid Addiction: Treatment or Jail?

Opioid use has reached crisis proportions in the United States. Tens of thousands of people now die from overdoses each year. Many more lives are destroyed by the destructive effects of illegal opioids. No one argues that the distributors of illegal opioids should be targeted by by the legal system. The situation is more complex when it comes to the users to these drugs. They come from every social, economic and ethnic group. Few are criminals before they are trapped by addiction. to opioids

No one sets out to become an opioid addict. Many victims begin by taking medications prescribed for legitimate reasons. No matter how someone starts using, the course they follow is all too common. If an individual doesn’t die from an overdose, he or she reaches a point at which the money or legal access to the drugs is exhausted. There is little choice left for the addict. He or she must turn to illegal activities to feed the habit.

Opioid addiction often turns law-abiding people into criminals. This presents a real problem. On the one hand, addicts need treatment and rehabilitation. Once they are in recovery, they can return to society. Unfortunately, many relapse. A “hard-line” approach says that opioid abusers have broken the law. They should go to prison. Rehabilitation can be part of their sentence. The problem with this approach is that an abuser who enters prison as a victim of drug addiction often emerges with the mindset of a criminal.

 

Blending Law Enforcement and Treatment

Even when an addict nearly dies from an overdoes, he often refuses to voluntarily commit himself to a treatment facility. One common rationalization is a belief that he isn’t “really an addict.” Legally, authorities often cannot act unless they can prove a person is a danger to himself or to others. An alternative approach is gaining support: involuntary commitment. Despite the common belief that an addict must be willing to seek help for rehabilitation to succeed, researchers are finding that involuntary commitment also works. This approach has the advantage of removing the addicted individual form the social environment in which opioids are available. He is no longer associating with people who might facilitate a relapse. The point is to blend law enforcement and treatment in a way that promotes recovery.

Obviously, the best option is always for an addict to seek help on his or her own. We are here to help. Please call us for advice and more information 855-782-1009