Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (a part of the National Institute of Health) has an opinion column in Saturday's Washington Post titled, "Treat the Addict, Cut the Crime Rate." In it she stresses how important it is to treat the addiction problem, especially since 70% of the offenders in prisons and jails have regularly abused drugs.
When drug abusers enter the criminal justice system, it signals a pivotal crisis in their lives. It also offers a unique opportunity to institute treatment for drug abuse and addiction. Studies have consistently shown that comprehensive drug treatment works. It not only reduces drug use but also curtails criminal behavior and recidivism. Moreover, for drug-abusing offenders, treatment facilitates successful reentry into the community. This is true even for people who enter treatment under legal mandate.Her conclusion make sense to me. If we address the root cause of the behavior of this large segment within the prison population, I am convinced we can reduce recidivism. What do you think?
The ultimate goal of treatment, of course, is to help an addict stop using drugs. As a clinician I don't remember ever meeting an addicted person who wanted to be addicted or who expected that compulsive, uncontrollable or even criminal behavior would emerge when he or she started taking drugs. Providing drug-abusing offenders with comprehensive treatment saves lives and protects communities.