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The Legal Consequences of Drug Addiction

Illicit drug use carries some of the most severe legal consequences of any nonviolent crime. People who become addicted to drugs not only risk their physical well-being – their entire futures can be cut short with hefty prison sentences and crippling legal fees. Despite these risks, addiction rates continue to climb in the United States. It is imperative that people and their communities raise their awareness of the legal consequences of drug use in order to prevent the spread of this neurological disease. The following are some of the penalties addicts can expect to face if they are caught using illegal drugs:

Severe Prison Sentences

Possession of certain drugs may only result in fines, but even first-time offenders can find themselves facing five years or more in prison. This is true for almost all illegal drugs, as the Controlled Substances Act treats marijuana and other hallucinogens with the same severity as narcotics such as heroin and meth.

Also, many addicts resort to selling drugs to support their habits – or at least carry large enough amounts to be charged with the intent to distribute. If they do receive trafficking charges in court, they can face minimum sentences of five years, with sentences of ten or more years being relatively common. In fact, the United States prison system is overflowing with these nonviolent drug offenders.

Continuing the Cycle of Addiction

The legal consequences of drug use extend far beyond simple fines and prison sentences. Although some prisons provide addiction treatment to inmates, most states fail to offer adequate rehab services. The availability of treatment in prisons has also been declining over the last several years, as politicians continually cut funding to these programs. Due to popular misconceptions about addiction and the costs of incarceration, most voters are hostile to the idea of using tax money for rehab.

The result of this situation is that people who go to prison for drug charges typically return to their old habits as soon as they get out. The get caught in never-ending cycles of drug use and prison time, and they never truly learn to cope with their addictions.

Court-Ordered Drug Rehab

In some fortunate cases, judges will actually order drug offenders to attend rehab in place of prison. They will often place special conditions on these sentences, mandating jail time for addicts who fail to participate in counseling or group discussions.

Though these offenders do not attend rehab of their own volition, they often make successful recoveries. Addiction researchers have found that mandatory addiction treatment can be just as effective as voluntary rehab. Unfortunately, prison sentences without treatment are still the norm.

Long-Term Life Effects

The vast majority of drug offenses are felonies, and illegal drug possession follows offenders for the rests of their lives. Even rehabilitated, fully-functional addicts have trouble getting jobs, finding places to live, and receiving retirement money.

The penalties of using drugs are severe and far-reaching. If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction, you need to seek treatment while you still can. Call us now to discuss a clinical drug rehab program that will allow you to manage your cravings and live a fuller, richer life – without risk of losing everything as a result of often-draconian drug laws. Take action now by dialing the number at the top of your screen for a free, confidential consultation.

About The Contributor
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More