Jail Is Not A Form Of Rehab
For decades, the war on drugs in the U.S. has taken a hardline strategy. Addicts are treated like criminals rather than people with a serious illness. As attitudes begin to shift and research tells us more about the disease of addiction, many hope that drug policies will also change. The tough love idea that prison can cure an addict is no longer working in the rehab vs. jail debate.
Punishment As Rehabilitation
A dominant philosophy of treatment for drug addiction has been one of punishment. Society has long viewed addicts as people with moral failings and natural weaknesses. The idea has been that in order to correct their poor choices, tough love and punishment are needed.
Although the general attitude toward addiction as a disease to be treated with medical techniques has been growing, many addicts end up in prison. For too many addicts, a stint in prison, or more than one, is the only type of rehab they receive.
Prison exists for several reasons. The main point of incarceration is to punish. It also exists to remove offenders from society. Finally, prison is supposed to rehabilitate inmates, even those that are not addicts. The time spent in jail is to be productive and to prepare inmates for re-entry into society as contributing members. Unfortunately, jails and prisons have largely failed at this last goal. How can they be expected to be facilities that will successfully treat drug addicts?
True Drug Rehabilitation
Drug rehabilitation statistics tell us that the punishment model simply doesn’t work, and neither does using jail as a form of drug rehab. Real rehab means using a combination of evidence-based techniques that are individualized for each patient. Trained professionals should lead the techniques. Therapy, counseling, group support and medications where appropriate are the tools of drug and alcohol addiction rehab. Evidence from modern research tells us that these are the methods that work, not punishment.
True drug rehab can take many different forms. The important thing is that it should conform to the needs of an individual. Rehab can mean spending weeks to months working intensively in a residential facility. It can also mean working in therapy groups while still living at home, or simply attending 12-Step support groups and using self-help techniques to stay sober.
The most important factors, as demonstrated by drug rehab success rates, are that rehab methods are based on evidence and that the overall program is individualized. When an addict receives this type of treatment from caring professionals, he stands a real chance of getting well again. Jail is no place for an addict. It simply doesn’t work as rehab and it only increases the odds of an addict getting in trouble with the law again.