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Why Treatment – Not Jail – is the Solution to Addiction

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For decades, the war on drugs may have seriously undermined the battle that could have been waged against addiction. Unfortunately for many addicts, the best place to battle addiction is in treatment–not jail.

According to the Pew Research Center, “A national survey by the Pew Research Center finds that 67% of Americans say that the government should focus more on providing treatment for those who use illegal drugs such as heroin and cocaine.

Meanwhile, 26% of Americans think the government’s focus should be on prosecuting users of such hard drugs. Increasing numbers of Americans have come to believe that treatment is the best way to reduce the drug problem and statistics associated with relapse suggest they are right.

Substance Addiction and the Law

People are responsible for their actions while under the influence of alcohol, prescription drugs, and street drugs, though they may be suffering from the disease of addiction. Many addicts have committed crimes beyond the use of an illicit substance.

Using addictive substances can impair judgment and result in poor decision-making. Yet when serious crimes are not involved, many Americans believe that addicts, even those addicted to illegal street drugs, should enter treatment programs rather than a jail cell, and increasing numbers of states believe that too.

According to Medical Daily, relapse after jail is likely without addiction treatment “even after years of abstinence.”

The Importance of Treatment

While the government is currently reducing sentences for non-violent drug users, many prisons are embracing what the medical community has been suggesting for years: addiction is a disease that requires comprehensive treatment. The physical aspects of addiction only account for a portion of the illness, which is why periods or abstinence and “getting clean” do not cure this disease.

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Addiction also involves profoundly powerful psychological and behavioral dependencies that must be addressed during treatment. If they aren’t addressed, relapse is likely. In fact, many addicts who leave treatment after relapse are more likely to relapse than those who obtain further therapies that target all aspects of the disease.

While some prison systems are encouraging addicts to seek treatment during their incarceration, not all states offer this option. Yet without any addiction treatment, these addicts are likely to continue the cycle of addiction once they are released and return to their former lives with all of its triggers that compel them to abuse alcohol or drugs again.

Why Does Rehab Work?

Addiction treatment centers help suffering addicts end their cycle of abuse by targeting each aspect of the disease. While treatments like detox can break the physical addiction to an addictive substance, both traditional and non-traditional therapies can be employed to break the mental and behavioral dependencies on drugs or alcohol.

These therapies arm addicts with new coping skills for managing the triggers that lead them to abuse drugs or alcohol. They provide sufferers with support during the long recovery process.

What most Americans are now coming to understand is that punishing an addict for the disease of addiction does not cure the illness; only treatment can help people end their cycle of substance abuse. If you or someone you love is suffering from this serious disease, a qualified rehab center like Destination Hope can help, and the sooner treatment is obtained, the sooner recovery can begin.

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  1. “America’s New Drug Policy Landscape,” Pew Research Center, 4/02/2014,
  2. Lim, Jillian Rose, “Treatment vs. Punishment: Poll Finds Americans Prefer Rehab over Jail for Drug Offenders, Medical Daily, 4/04/2014,

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