Substance abuse often causes an individual to enter into the criminal justice system, but many argue that instead of jail and other criminal penalties addiction should be treated with a treatment diversion program instead. A large part of the jail and prison population suffer from addiction, mental illness, or both. The costs of incarcerating these individuals is much higher for taxpayers than a treatment diversion program would be. When addicts are treated like human beings and offered an opportunity to turn their lives around many are very successful. When these same individuals are simply sentenced and thrown in jail then the odds of them continuing on the same destructive path and getting into further legal trouble in the future are much higher.
Using a treatment diversion program for addiction instead of jail time is a humane way to treat a legitimate problem while saving tax dollars at the same time. Many people who struggle with addiction end up committing petty crimes just to survive, and some commit more serious crimes in order to feed their addiction. The downward cycle will continue until the individual receives the right treatment and they can overcome their addiction. It is important that the individual accept responsibility for their actions though, the addiction can not be treated like a medical illness that the person has no control over because this will prevent a full recovery and give the individual an excuse or out to continue with the same patterns and behaviors as before.