Incarceration and Drug Addiction

Photo by JANIFEST/

Have you ever been incarcerated repeatedly for the same drug charge or know someone who has?

In the 1980s, there was a law in place where criminals with drug offenses had longer, more extensive sentences. Even with this law put in place, as the jails filled up, the drug epidemic continued and, in fact worsened. According to one article by the PEW charitable trust, from 1980 to 2015, the statistics on drug-related charges skyrocketed from 5,000 to 92,000.

Reported drug use increased during that same time as did the purity and availability of methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin. So as society incarcerated more and more dealers, drug mules, and middlemen, they were rapidly replaced to continue to the drug trade.

However, as jails were built to handle the increased incarceration rates, the same amount of funding (if not more) should have been devoted to providing treatment facilities. The privatization of prisons has contributed to these growing numbers and problems. According to the Sentencing Project, during the years 2000 and 2016, private prison inmates increased at a rate five times greater than the total prison population, with 27 states utilizing private prisons.

With the focus on incarceration as opposed to rehabilitation, the numbers of drug use and drug charges will continue to rise.

The underlying issues don’t get addressed when an addict is arrested. The user keeps getting worse; resentment sets in towards the justice system as the addict silently screams for help. 

Addicts who commit crimes do so to keep up with their habit. A Judge is aware of the arrest charges, and if it includes theft and or burglary, along with possession charges, there lies someone with almost no ability to rehabilitate behind prison walls. Continuing to imprison them repeatedly is no longer a solution.

Imprisonment does not work because there are many underlying reasons why an addict sustains his addiction, which do not get addressed in jail. If they do, it only covers the basics for example, what drugs do to your body, what happens when you consume drugs or alcohol and maybe some meetings get thrown in here and there. Still, none of which gives the user any valuable information of life skills he can use to change his life for good.

It is true that when an addict becomes incarcerated, they are sober. Yet the number of days they do not use drugs does not make them sober. Neither does them sitting around and thinking of all the wrongs they have caused or what has been done to them. This lack of addressing these issues and building up guilt contributes to relapse upon release. You see, one thing addicts do well is numb their emotions. Masking their feelings is one of the many reasons they continue to use, so they do not have to feel or escape from reality.

We can help you to get your loved one the help they need. Either before they get into this trap or to get them out of it.




Aaron has been writing drug education articles and documenting the success of the Narconon program for over two years.