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If you or a loved one are struggling, we can help! Call us today at (855) 722-6926

Should Drug Addicts Be Punished or Treated?

Should Drug Addicts Be Punished or Treated?

A majority of people, especially those who commit crimes, are drug users but are not drug addicts. Someone who experiences a loss of self-control, overwhelming cravings, and overthinks about taking a specific drug or drugs has an addiction. Many factors tie together the reasons behind why people form addictions, such as genetics, environment, and social interactions.

Ten percent of America’s adult population having a drug use disorder at some point in their lives, how many commit crimes because of it? If the factors weighed in play a significant role, criminalizing drug addicts seems appropriate under the circumstances since an estimated 65% percent of the United States prison population has an active substance abuse disorder.1 The question to ponder is should drug addicts be punished or treated?


Inequitable Enforcement

Unfortunately, a person’s race is still a distinct factor in which the exercise of police discretion while passing current constitutional thresholds seems unfair. People with different shades of skin, commonly white and black people, often use the same drugs at the same rate. However, the consequences faced for those with darker skin do happen to be more violent, or in many instances, the actions against them are unreasonable. Black people were nearly four times more likely to be arrested for being found with marijuana than white people in 2018.2

Race and gender are regularly speculated as, depending on these factors, a person is more likely to face a police officer in a negative manner. Of course, the consequences of drug abuse are a rising issue. Instead of the constant arrests, since addiction can be cured, should drug addicts go to jail? 


Criminalizing Addiction

More than fifty percent of state prisoners and two-thirds of sentenced jail inmates met the standard criteria for drug dependence. Those who abused drugs were left untreated before and during jail time. Many of these men or women needed medication or started taking prescribed pills, eventually forming a state of denial, not coming to terms with no longer needing to rely on the drug.

Considerably, less than half of victims of violent crimes state that the offender was under the influence of alcohol. Drugs and alcohol are often related to the offender's motive. The person who commits the crime is attempting to obtain money for drugs and alcohol or is currently under the influence. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics collects data from victims to report crimes committed while intoxicated.

Rape and sexual assault account for around thirty percent, and aggravated assault is less than thirty percent. Robbery and crime of violence is over forty percent while depending on the state and condition of the environment, many persons are found with multiple drugs in their system.3 Due to the statistics, “should drug addicts be punished or treated?” is a question that remains under investigation by many researchers. This is especially true since weapon violations and vehicle theft are the largest reasons why inmates are in jail.


How Many Drug Addicts Relapse After Jail?

The percentage of addicts who relapse after jail continues to grow since there is no effective treatment plan given to inmates who sit behind bars. Jail is one of the consequences of drug abuse attached to violent crimes committed. The repercussions of crimes such as theft, rape, and violence are “doing the time.'' Why should addicts be punished or treated? According to the Epidemiologic Catchment area study, an estimated 45 percent of individuals with alcohol use disorders and 70 percent of those with drug use disorders had at least one co-occurring psychiatric disorder.4

Therefore, it is possible for many crimes to be avoided if people are to seek treatment prior to addiction. Education and awareness are extremely crucial in this case, especially in low-income locations and high ratings of violence. Addiction is a chronic disease where people lose control of their behavior and sense of good judgment, and there are changes in emotional responses.


Addiction and Mental Health Treatment in Pompano

At Banyan Pompano, we offer a successful mental health program for individuals with co-occurring disorders who are relying on drugs to cope. Our experienced medical staff is prepared to safely get you through the withdrawal process to conquer addiction.

We offer detox to those needing cocaine addiction treatment, alcohol, opioid, or prescription pill addiction treatment. Some of our levels of care offer an intensive outpatient program as well as a wonderful partial hospitalization program.

Please do not hesitate to contact  Banyan Treatment Center Pompano at 888-280-4763 and ask about our 12-step program to get started today!



  1. NIH - 10 percent of US adults have drug use disorder at some point in their lives
  2. NIDA - Criminal Justice DrugFacts | National Institute on Drug Abuse
  3. ACLU - A Tale of Two Countries
  4. OJP - Drug Use, Dependence, and Abuse Among State Prisoners and Jail Inmates


Related Readings:

Impact of Alcohol on Mental Health

How to Talk to A Drug Addict

How Drug Abuse Affects White Matter in the Brain

Alyssa who is the National Director of Digital Marketing, joined the Banyan team in 2016, bringing her five-plus years of experience. She has produced a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. Through strategic marketing campaign concepts, Alyssa has established Banyan as an industry leader and a national household name.