Guest Author - Susan Hubenthal
Chemical dependency is not a moral issue, it isn’t now, and it never was. It is a medical issue, a public health issue. The six levels of addiction are abstinence, experimentation, social use, habitual, drug abuse, and addiction. Once the level of addiction has been reached, the abuser no longer has a choice as to use or not to use. A compulsion to use is driven by the brain. The neo-cortex is affected, causing disrupted reasoning, distorted judgment, and compulsive drug use will continue regardless of negative consequences.
So why is a person incarcerated due to chemical dependency? Because possession of an illicit drug is illegal. If that person is arrested and incarcerated for drug abuse and perhaps possession, rehabilitation cannot occur. However, some states now have Drug Courts that will offer treatment to those who meet the criteria. It is a stringent commitment to the person who elects to join the Court’s program, and often longer than the sentence itself. But, it certainly is a right step in the right direction to offer a drug treatment program to non violent drug offenders.
Our jails and prisons are filled to overflowing with non violent drug abusers and addicts. More and more prisons are being built. It has become a huge industry! If you believe that chemical dependency is a medical issue, not a moral issue, raise your voices! There is no cure for addiction, but treatment is available, and should be made available to anyone who asks for treatment. Without any kind of intervention there is little or no hope for these individuals. Their brain compulsion will lead them to use again and again.
Alcohol kills more than 130,000 people a year in the U.S.; other illicit psychoactive drugs kill over 8,000 a year. In 1998, an estimated 10 to 12 million Americans suffered from alcoholism. If we could provide individuals who suffer from addiction with the treatment they need, we could relieve the jails and prisons and everyone would find it beneficial.
What Can You Do To Help?
1. Persuade your leaders to seek alternative public health and harm reduction solutions to the current drug problem.
2. Educate yourself about the failed “War on Drugs.”
3. Save a life! Learn how to prevent a drug overdose.
4. Reach out to a grieving parent or to one whose child is currently abusing drugs.
5. Help erase the stigma still attached to a death from substance abuse. It can happen to any family!