Some states are getting on the bandwagon when it comes to using drug rehab to curb criminal activity, but there is still far too little being done. If you have ever asked yourself why one out of every 100 adults in America are incarcerated, putting drug addicts in prison instead of getting them through drug rehab so they can live a clean, productive, crime-fee life would be at the top of the list.
Why do we need to treat non-violent drug offenders rather than imprisoning them?
Being in prison does absolutely nothing to address the source of the problem – ie, why did the person commit this crime and what can we do to ensure it does not happen again? Does being in prison make an addict not want drugs? Hardly. Does being in prison help an addict deal with the reasons he started drugs in the first place? Does being in prison help an addict restructure his or her life so they can live without drugs, and without the crimes they're committing to get them or while they're on them? Absolutely not. They're going to wind up back out on the street with nothing and, in fact, their situation will be worse than it was when they went in – they'll have a criminal record which will make it very difficult for them to find employment , especially employment that pays enough to support a family. And they will still be craving drugs.
The cost of getting an addict through drug rehab is roughly 25% of the cost of keeping them in prison – $ 26,000 for prison, $ 6,000 for drug rehab. Some people object to supporting or helping drug addicts in any way. They think the addict got himself into that position, why should taxpayers pay for him to get out of it? The fact is, we're paying for it one way or another. Our taxes not only pay for the millions of people in prison – which amounts to many, many billions of dollars every year – we also foot the bill for many of the tens or hundreds of thousands of hospital emergency rooms visits, both for people on drugs and for those who have been injured in some drug-related crime or accident, we pay the morgue costs for overdoses, we pay higher health insurance, higher car insurance, and we support publicly-funded drug rehab and other treatment centers.
The cost of the war on drugs – billions of taxpayer dollars spent every year. But as long as the demand for drugs is there, there will be a supply. The only real way to stop the cycle is to stop the demand. And that can only be done through drug rehab.
The loss of lives, the breakdown of families, schools with metal detectors at the doors, schoolyards where any kid can buy drugs anytime, unsafe neighborhoods, barred doors and windows, the homeless on the street. It's not even safe to send your kids to a good college anymore – chances are that 20% of the kids are so involved in drugs they need drug rehab to get off them.
If your kid or someone you care about is involved in drugs, at all, even if they've been taking prescription drugs that are no longer medically necessary, get them through a drug rehab program before they end up in the prison system, in the ER, or in the morgue. You may not have caused the problem but, one way or another, it is already affecting you. And there is only one way to change that – get them off drugs. Their lives will change, and so will yours. And do not forget to lobby for drug rehab programs for offenders so they will not be back out on the street, in the same situation, creating the same problems.