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Prison Time vs. Rehab for Drug Offenders

Using drug rehab as an alternative to prison may be the best way to address the alarming rates of both crime and addiction in the United States. Violent and non-violent drug offenders alike are typically given long prison sentences and little to no addiction treatment, yet recidivism is incredibly common. Breaking the cycle of addiction could be the only way for some criminals to get off the streets and become more productive members of society. If Americans are ever going to put a stop to drug crime, they need to understand the benefits of providing addiction treatment for offenders.

What Causes Crime?

Selecting the best methods of punishment and rehabilitation requires a thorough understanding of the drug crime problem. While some non-addicts may be involved in the drug trade, most offenders suffer from extreme dependencies on illegal substances. The legal consequences of possession, theft, and even battery mean little to people with uncontrollable compulsions to get high.

The growing rates of addiction – as well as the prohibition of commonly-abused substances – also make the trade extremely profitable for people at home and abroad. In a situation where most criminal addicts never get treatment, drug dealers have steady streams of customers. They also must compete with rival dealers, causing an immense amount of bloodshed in communities throughout the United States.

Keeping the Right Attitude

If addiction is one of the underlying causes of drug crime, then treating it is essential. However, many people have hostile attitudes towards the use of rehabilitation over incarceration. To some, rehab seems less like a punishment than prison time. Others may not understand that addiction is a neurological disease, and not simply a matter of low willpower or poor character. Ultimately, these attitudes need to change in order to successfully address the problem. Severe punishments may satisfy people’s sense of justice, but successful rehabilitation is what is truly important for stopping crime. Better education is also crucial for laypeople to better understand the nature of addiction, and how it drives otherwise law-abiding people to commit crimes.

The True Costs of Drug Treatment

Some voters and taxpayers are also wary of having their money spent on rehab programs for criminals. However, addiction treatment can be far less costly than incarceration. Recidivist drug offenders may spend years in and out of prison, costing the legal and penal systems thousands of dollars. In contrast, a successful inpatient rehab program lasts only a few months. A comparative study in the mid-1990s showed that over a six-year period, New York City saved nearly 50,000 dollars on people who attended rehabilitation instead of prison. Rehab won’t always be effective, but the data seem to show that it is a far more cost-effective way to address the problem of drug crime.

Treatments for Prisoners

Clinical rehab is a viable option for non-violent offenders, but few people are suggesting the end of prison sentences for violent addicts. Still, these people need treatment if they are going to manage their addictions and successfully reintegrate into society. Almost all states have prison rehab programs, but most of them are drastically underfunded. Recent political pressures have caused many politicians to strip them of even more resources. Incarceration may not be much of a deterrent for would-be drug offenders, but expanded rehab services may make the penal system far more effective at reducing crime in the long run.

Addiction is a serious disease with a host of legal, physical, and mental consequences. Don’t let drugs consume your life – get help before before it’s too late. Call the number above for a toll-free consultation with one of our knowledgeable representatives, and get started on a drug rehab program as soon as possible.

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