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Man In Prison

Should Substance Abuse Lead to Jail Time?

incarceration, substance abuse

In the USA and around the world many thousands of people are locked up in jail because they developed an addiction. This has led many to question whether substance abuse should be a criminal justice issue or if these problems should be treated as a medical issue as well. One argument against using the medical model theory with substance abuse is that some will fall into a victim mentality and refuse to accept responsibility for their own actions and the consequences that occur. There are also valid arguments that incarcerating someone for an addiction is cruel and serves no purpose other than to cost society money. Eventually those in jail or prison will be released and they will be out in society again. Incarceration may teach violent and anti social behavior so the individual may come out of jail or prison as a bigger threat to society than that which was posed by their addiction before they were incarcerated.

Treating substance abuse with compassion, understanding, and dignity is essential in order to achieve a permanent recovery. Substance abuse treatment during incarceration is often hit and miss. Even jails and prisons that do offer these programs usually only have group counseling. Instead a model that combines the effective treatment of an upscale program with a philosophy that the individual is responsible for their actions may be a better choice. A purely medical model may cause the patient to feel like they can not control the addiction or that it is not their fault.