By: Jenny Eastland
When it comes to drug use in the United States, the ultimate goal is to decrease its numbers. But we are stuck in this constant loop of imprisoning non-violent drug abusers who serve their sentences and then continue to use as soon as they leave, and so the cycle continues. It is an addiction, after all, and addiction starts as a voluntary action which, over time, becomes something that is out of the user’s control. This is why drug abuse should be considered and treated as a disease.
Putting a drug abuser in jail does nothing good for them or anyone else. If anything, they continue to use drugs in jail and the cycle never ends. If we treat drug abuse as a disease, we offer the user time to overcome their addiction and get the treatment that they need. We also leave room in prison for the violent offenders that truly need to be there, because they truly are criminals that could benefit from punishment for their wrong doing.
Drug abuse is never good for anyone or anything. Nobody grows up with a goal to become a drug addict, it is something that happens when an individual’s life circumstances put them in the wrong place at the wrong time. Addiction changes the way a person’s brain operates, making it extremely hard to get over. You cannot decide to get rid of your addiction just by having a strong will to do so. It is far more complicated than that. Even if someone really wants to, it takes years of rehabilitation and you never quite get over the addiction completely.
We must stop demonizing drug users and telling them that, because they chose to do drugs in the first place, they don’t deserve any help. Drug use should not be considered a crime, rather, a mental illness. If we want to see any decrease in addiction rates, we must take it more seriously and treat these individuals as humans in need of support.