The ideology that addicts are criminals and need to be punished for their crime is thankfully fading away. Increasingly, the much more accurate ideology that people who struggle with addiction are living with an untreated mental health disorder is taking hold. It is true that many people who fall into the grips of addiction and alcoholism do become criminals. Most drugs to which addicts are addicted are illegal. In today’s world, someone can “get off” for possessing a small amount of crystal meth, but can face incarceration for being caught with too much marijuana. Consumers, dealers, importers, manufacturers, or just general risk-takers who get involved in crime, it is possible for an addict to also be a criminal.
Being addicted to drugs and alcohol is not a crime. It also isn’t a moral failing, a defect of character, or a lack of willingness to live life according to social norms. For whatever reason a person becomes addicted to drugs and alcohol, once they become chemically dependent upon substances, the matter is out of their control. Serious neurobiological processes become “hijacked” according to some theories, or become disordered, according to others. Addicts and alcoholics are people who have lost their way in their ability to make decisions, judge outcomes, and live by consequence. Numerous brain imaging studies have found that areas of the brain which specifically regulate such areas are compromised by the chronic inundation of drugs and alcohol addiction tends to provide.
Still, most of society continues to view addiction as a crime which logically should be “treated” with incarceration. Without proper assessment and treatment, many addicts never get a chance to fully recover. Prison systems are riddled with drugs and can lead to trauma which worsens one’s addictive behaviors when, or if, they are ever released.
Prisons are not alternatives to mental health treatment centers. In fact, most prisons are ill-equipped and underfunded to cope with the amount of mental health problems which need to be treated in their inmates.
Thankfully, drug courts continue to have positive reinforcement, providing an alternative sentencing for addicts and alcoholics who are convicted of crimes. Most drug court systems see great success in recovery and reformation.
Treatment for mental health issues and co-occurring substance use disorders is available and can create lifelong changes which lead to a lifetime of recovery. Avalon Malibu is offers residential care designed to promote healing and transformation in mind, body, and spirit. For a confidential assessment and more information, call us today at 1 888-958-7511.