Drug addiction is one of the burning problems discussed in contemporary society. These issues received great portion of attention from authorities and should be considered further with regard to all alternative measures that can be taken in order to reduce the level of drug addiction in population. Drug addicts and offenders have been victimized for long time and hence imprisoned for their condition. Incarceration was considered to be the only appropriate measure chosen by authorities and organizations concerned to deal with people taking drugs, as suggested in the study by Collica. In this respect, imprisonment was meant to isolate people that are not only morally defective but can harm or influence other members of society in terms of various sexually transmitted diseases and those transmitted via humor. owever, imprisonment did not change greatly the number of drug addicts. On the contrary, drug offenses had increased and concerned people came to know that the nature of addiction cannot be changed. This idea is supported in the study by Levinson (p. 105). There are several alternatives to prison that may be beneficial to society as well as the drug offender. Implications of these measures would not only save money, but it will also save lives.
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Discussion of the problem
It is clear that the approach to drug addicted people, especially to drug offenders, should be changed ultimately. Many scholarly sources have suggested some measures to be taken as an alternative strategy to deal with drug offenders (Armstrong, p. 56). In that regard, it is possible to analyze rehabilitation as a part of the new strategy implementing more humanistic and effective methods. Through this process, addicts are provided with adequate care, training, and encouragement to cope with their addiction which results in a behavior change. This will, in the end, put an end to the drug related offenses as well as make drug offenders more responsible as members of a society. The aim of this paper is to provide an analytical report of the issue of drug addition in the United States. It is necessary to focus on rehabilitation opposed to imprisonment with regard to the effectiveness of both strategies.
Imprisonment leading to criminal behavior
Mental and emotional instability
Drug addicts continue to flood our state and federal prisons instead of receiving the necessary treatment for their addiction. Incarceration is the primary prescription to a disease that claims many victims across our nation. The Department of Corrections only reinforces the propensity of drug use by not providing any skills or education to aid in their recovery so that the offender may re-enter society as a productive and self-reliant citizen. Instead, it is a revolving door for those who are released upon serving their sentence because offenders are unable to cope with the underlying issues of addiction.
The prison system is mainly used as a deterrent for fear of punishment, supposedly leading to overall less criminal behavior, which, in turn, should reduce drug consumption. Incarceration is used as a drug prevention measure and is consequently our drug policy tool. With more than 2.3 million people behind bars, the United States leads the world in both prisoners per capita and total number of people imprisoned. This meaning, if there are 230 million American adults, there are more than 1 in 100 adults in the U.S. prison system in which one out of every four incarcerated are drug offenders. Such high statistics should produce lower criminal rates, but instead has no overall effect in reducing criminal behavior. The criminal justice system should be seen as a failure if it does not increase public safety. Instead, taxpayers fuel the heavy cost of prison maintenance, only to receive retribution in the form of vengeance. Punishment for the commitment of drug-related crimes should not be overlooked, but reevaluated to prevent repeat offenses.
The problem of drug addiction is widely spread; the idea that the American society is known to have a high level t level of drug addition that influences crime rates is supported in the study by Reisig (p. 198). Incarceration does not take in account health related problems of drug addicts and some measures to be taken for adequate treatment. Incarceration refers to the imprisonment of people as a form of punishment for the crimes committed. This has been the primary approach towards addiction in the United States (Lendvay, p. 64). As a result, prisons are filled with drug related offenders who had been punished for ‘being sick’. This is the major reason for the drug abuse problem in the United Sates that is not approached properly.
People that need specific professional treatment are isolated in order to prevent them from committing crimes. However, this is not the way to solve the problem. Therefore, instead of focusing on ways of assisting these offenders, people victimize and condemn them. It is necessary to analyze the reasons for crimes committed by drug abusers. As a rule, drug addicts experience psychological and financial problems due to the organism being under the pressure of drugs and lack of money resulting in a lack of drugs needed for the organism of an addicted; a person finds the way out of this problem by committing a crime related to stealing or being emotionally unstable. Counseling and moral support would discourage addicts from taking drugs and give them an opportunity to move on without being prejudiced. Therefore, incarceration cannot help to reform drug addicts. In fact, it worsens their condition since they feel as victimized by the society.
The imprisonment of drug addicts is not the best way to approach the issue under discussion (United Nations Office, pp. 87-88). This is due to the fact that victimizing individuals only contributes to their poor condition. One of the major effects of drug addiction includes lack of skills to normally live in society. They fail to overcome the challenges they meet in society. This is mainly due to the fact that incarceration only punishes them for their crimes committed by people that felt kef that moment. It fails to make them aware of the dangers of addiction and crime. At the same time, the addicts fail to receive the necessary psychological treatment and therapy which is necessary for their healing. Incarceration fails to teach them some necessary life skills that can help them to live constructively after prison life.
Incarceration impacts crime rates
The rate of crimes committed by drug addicts is very high in the United States. According to statistics, every fourth prisoner has committed a drug related crime. In this respect, the problem of drug offense is not a mere assumption and needs to be thoroughly reconsidered in terms of treatment provided that would ensure a decrease of crime rates related to drug addiction. The most appropriate correctional facility for drug addicts is a jail as suggested by most people. However, the aspect of a recurring crime is not approached and people are believed to be criminals who deserve punishment. The crime rates continue to increase with regard to more people being imprisoned for drug addiction and treated as criminals even after being released. Incarceration has been used as a drug prevention strategy for a long time and the nation seems to still use it to curb drug abuse, as a result the prisons are filled up with drug offenders (Collica, p. 236). However, one possible trend is that incarceration has failed to reduce drug addiction rates as well as drug related offenses. On the contrary, the crime rates steadily grow due to improper treatment of offenders.
In fact, the impact of incarceration has produced more negative effect to society than it was expected (Armstrong, p. 115). One main reason is the fact that, addicts are detained without any meaningful efforts to educate them on how to live constructively in the society. At the same time, no point of outreach is fulfilled while keeping them in prison. Therefore, when drug abusers are released, they find it so difficult to live along with other people. At the same time, addicts are isolated and confined to solitary living. All these factors lead to frustration, despondency, and desperation. Priority should be set concerning people that can go through rehabilitation and move on as full-fledged members of society or they can be treated as criminals only, with neither having a second chance or given an opportunity for self-development.
Rehabilitation through counseling and treatment
Positive outcomes of rehabilitation
Rehabilitation is one of the alternative measures that can be taken while dealing with people accused of crimes related to their drug addiction. Instead of jailing addicts, it is necessary to set up drug rehabilitation centers, as suggested by McBrewster, where addicts can receive counseling and psychological help in order to get rid of addiction. One of the main reasons why addiction is regarded as the burning issue of the global community is that most people who end up using drugs are usually individuals who are isolated within the society. These individuals therefore feel desperate and find drugs as the only way to cope with some problems. In this respect, some people find strength in themselves and encouragement from their friends and relatives to find another job if they were fired, to live further if they experienced a breakup, and many other useful tips that seem to be trifles but are highly appreciated and valuable for weak people. These weak people can choose another way if they have no support from outside. In this case, the only way that remains is to take drugs.
Rehabilitation can be considered a good practice of helping people; psychoeducational approach can be chosen to make these people aware of the nature of drugs, the way they are produced (this influences the degree of addiction and the speed of getting used to those), consequences of drug addiction for their health (these are not limited to cardiovascular and mental ones). Drug addicts should learn more about the effect of the drugs and some actions performed after having a dose. Therefore, helping addicts to deal with addiction through rehabilitation is more effective than victimizing them and jailing them. Incarceration is a barbaric way of addressing the whole issue of addiction (Books LLC, p. 316). As far as crime is concerned, statistics indicate that most of the cases of crime are as a result of drugs. Therefore rehabilitating addicts will not only reduce crime rates but also make them responsible citizens of a society.
Cost of rehab
Rehabilitation refers to the treatment process of those who are accused of the drug abuse. Rehabilitation is an alternative method of treating drug addicts; this can be adopted as a prevailing practice as it heals drug addicts instead of merely isolating them from society from time to time. Rehabilitation ensures that drug offenders confront their habits and experiences to adopt a positive change towards drug abuse. Through rehabilitation, majority of the drug offenders kept in prisons can overcome their addictions and become reformed citizens. As a result, there is need for more focus on rehabilitation by the government as it is a better decision ever. The United States can come up with policies for rehabilitating addicts so as to help them become constructive citizens.
Rehabilitation has several benefits. First, it helps them to assess their condition. This goes a long way in ensuring that the addicts stop struggling with insecurity and identity problems. As a result, the addict can easily quit criminal activities which are considered integral in their struggle with identity. At the same time, rehabilitation brings a sense of belonging to the addicts. This makes the addicts feel accepted by the society. Through rehabilitation addicts receive healing and guidance on how to live constructively in society. Those who were involved in crime in order to get some money for another dose resume normal activities and put an end to criminal life.
Rehabilitation also provides the addicts with life skills which are necessary for coping with life in the society (Levinson, p. 32). As a result, when the addicts are through with a rehabilitation program they can face life on their own in a constructive manner. It therefore becomes possible for the addicts to start a new life altogether. Some of them come from broken families; they therefore find solace and meaning in drugs and criminal activities. As a result, rehabilitation provides the addicts with fresh impetus to start their lives in a new way. This makes rehabilitation the only way of addressing drug abuse problems. It both addresses the direct implications of addiction and the connotative aspects of the same.
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A critical look at incarceration in the United States shows that drug addicts are imprisoned for crimes committed being sick. As a result, incarceration is used as a form of deterrence to drug addiction. Therefore, it is expected that once the subjects are released they are supposed to have undergone a positive behavior change and permanently quit their negative habits. It is also used as a tool through which young people are discouraged from drug addiction. Therefore, going by these assumptions, it was expected that incarceration would reduce the levels of drug addiction and crimes related to it. However, from statistics the whole process has been counterproductive. Rehabilitation makes it possible to make drug addicts aware of the real consequence of drug addiction. This alternative methods also provides them with counseling and encouragement to live without drugs.
- Armstrong, Gaylenel. Correctional boot camps: military basic training or a model for corrections? New York: SAGE, 2004.
- Books, LLC. Drug Rehabilitation: Twelve-Step Program, Methadone, Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome, Benzodiazepine Dependence. California: General Books, 2010.
- Collica, Kimberly. From incarceration to rehabilitation: transitions that transcend criminal trajectories: a study of the effect of HIV prison-based peer education programs on NYS female peers. New York: New York University, 2004.
- Lendvay, Istvan. Incarceration, rehabilitation. Chicago: Istvan Lendvay, 2000.
- Levinson, David. Encyclopedia of crime and punishment. New York: SAGE, 2002.
- McBrewster, John. Drug Rehabilitation. Washington: VDM Publishing House Ltd, 2009.
- Reisig, Michael. American Corrections. Washington: Cengage Learning, 2008.
- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation: a practical planning and implementation guide. New York: United Nations Publications, 2003.