The Downside of Treating Addiction as a Crime

The Downside of Treating Addiction as a CrimeAddiction can be treated in countless ways, but the two most common ways are to treat it either as a crime or disease. Crime is often involved in the process of addiction, but there are several downsides to treating it this way. In fact, if people only treat addiction as a crime, then addicts may not ever recover, and thereby abuse drugs for a long time in the future.

Why Drug Addicts Seek Crime

Drug or alcohol addictions can lead people to crimes that are undoubtedly wrong so they can fuel their drug use. In desperation to acquire more drugs, many addicts would do anything, including breaking the law. This leads to drug-seeking crimes, such as stealing and burglary. These are some of the most common crimes in relation to drug-seeking behavior.

In some cases, crimes occur not as a way to acquire a substance, but rather as a result of the substance’s mind-altering effects. One crime that frequently occurs as a result of drug abuse is violence. The effects of drugs or alcohol can lead people to have short tempers and reduced inhibition. Alcohol, in particular, can have these effects, so it can lead addicts to become violent, both verbally and physically. Substance-related violence can occur both in the home and in public.

Child abuse and neglect are another crime that often occurs as a result of drug or alcohol addiction. In a 2006 report in the Washington Post, researchers reported that 60 to 80 percent of child abuse and neglect cases occur when the offender is using drugs. These crimes often occur as a result of drug abuse, but also in pursuit of drugs, especially as addicted parents leave home for extended periods of time to seek out drugs or alcohol.

Consequences of Treating Addiction as a Crime

Penalties such as incarceration can nullify addiction treatment. While many people receive addiction treatment in jail, many addictions go untreated. Failure to treat addiction leads to additional crimes once an addict’s incarceration has ended. Also, the life-long effects of a criminal record is another negative factor in treating addiction as a crime. Blemishes on a legal record can result in a reduced ability to acquire a job, even when the addiction has been treated. As a result, joblessness and poverty may serve as triggers to use drugs or alcohol once again.

Treating addiction as an illness ultimately reduces the frequency of drug-related crimes. This achieves the same purpose of treating the addiction while foregoing many of the legal consequences. Some addicts should not be let off the hook so easily in relation to the crimes they commit, but by viewing addiction as a disease, the crimes are essentially committed by the addiction, not the addict.

Legal Help for Drug Addicts

If you or a loved one suffers from addiction, please call our toll-free helpline. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you have about treatment for drug or alcohol addiction. Get help today to avoid addiction.