Tag Archives: drug laws

Addiction Recovery Requires Assistance

addictionThose of you who have ever spent time in 12-Step meeting, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and/or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), are probably aware that a number of people found their way to addiction recovery via the legal system. Over the last several decades people convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or possessing an illegal narcotic are commonly required to attend 12-Step meetings.

From Incarceration to Recovery

While many of the people who are mandated to go to recovery meetings are only doing so to fulfill an obligation, a significant number of people hear something said that resonates and they decide to give recovery a shot. Another group of people with substance abuse disorder find their way on the road of recovery while they are behind bars—serving time for a felony drug conviction. Despite the fact that the recidivism rates for felony drug offenders is nothing short of staggering, there are some who are tired of living in the insidious cycle of addiction and manage to work a program of recovery while incarcerated. It becomes a new way of life which they plan to embrace and continue to work at after their release. Unfortunately, the odds of success outside prison walls are low, partially due to the fact that the options for felony drug offenders are limited. If you are working a program of recovery, it is likely that you are no stranger to the feeling of hopelessness—and you are probably aware that such feelings can lead to relapse. In fact, in many states across the country, those who are released from a penal institution after serving time for a felony drug offense, find that there they are not eligible to state assistance programs. Such benefits do not apply to people with the aforementioned past, yet those same people often require such services more than anyone when you consider the fact that it can be hard for a felon to find work. Without work, being able to afford sustenance is difficult to say the least.

A Second Chance

In recent years, lawmakers have begun to sing a different tune regarding addiction in light of the American opioid epidemic. It seems like that with each day that passes, Americans become more accepting of the idea that addiction is mental health disorder rather than a moral failing. The paradigm shift in thinking has led to changes in mandatory minimum sentencing laws for nonviolent drug offenders; therefore, giving addicts the option of treatment over jail time. Moving away from draconian drug sentencing laws has lead the current White House administration to commute 562 sentences since 2008. The vast majority of those incarcerated were serving time for nonviolent drug offenses, some of which were serving life. But what about those who have already served their time and the felony on their record makes it next to impossible to survive in an above the board manner. Recognizing that drug felons need help upon release if the chance of recidivism is to be mitigated, a number of states have begun let up on restrictions that prohibit such people from receiving state assistance, such as food stamps, PBS NewsHour reports. Thus another move in the fight to change archaic laws that only serve to disenfranchise those whose only crime was that of addiction.
One of the best ways that someone can move on after they’ve been released from prison is their ability to eat and take care of themselves,” said Marissa McCall Dodson of the Southern Center for Human Rights.
In 1996, a federal ban went into effect that prohibited those convicted of felony drug crimes from receiving food stamps and cash assistance, according to the article. You may find it interesting to learn that the ban did not apply to all felons, just drug felons. Fortunately, states have the option of loosening up on such restrictions. And now, there are only seven states that still enforce the full ban on drug felons receiving food stamps. Those states include
  • Arizona
  • Florida
  • Indiana
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • South Carolina
  • West Virginia

Intensive Outpatient Treatment Is An Option

PACE Recovery’s men only rehab and intensive outpatient (IOP) treatment is ideal for men that require additional support with their addiction and/or behavioral health issues. The curriculum is flexible to allow clients to continue their everyday activities, such as work, school, volunteer or family commitments. We understand the importance of helping our clients learn to manage both recovery and life’s obligations.

Ending The War On Drugs

war on drugsIn 1971, President Richard Nixon declared drug abuse "public enemy number one," and thus began the United States’ “war on drugs.” While there is little doubt about the insidious nature of both drug abuse and the drug trade, it has become clear that not only was the war on drugs an unwinnable campaign - it has resulted in the jailing and imprisonment of millions of Americans whose only crime was to suffer from the disease of addiction. We know that incarceration has little effect on addiction rates, mental illness requires treatment not handcuffs. The United States has been faced with an opioid epidemic for well over a decade, a public health crisis that has affected people and families from every demographic. As the nation’s lawmakers address the issue, politicians from both sides of the aisle agree that addiction treatment and education is the most effective weapon. Unfortunately, we cannot reverse the damage that the war on drugs has inflicted on countless Americans, but we can take more humanitarian approach for the future - doing away with many of the nation’s draconian drug laws. This week, Der Spiegel published an essay written by Nobel Peace Prize winner and former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. With the use of powerful words, Annan declared that the global war on drugs has done more harm than good, and has given more weight to punishment than health and human rights. It has created the perfect environment for illegal drug manufacturers and distributors to foster. He writes:
“In my experience, good public policy is best shaped by the dispassionate analysis of what in practice has worked, or not. Policy based on common assumptions and popular sentiments can become a recipe for mistaken prescriptions and misguided interventions. Nowhere is this divorce between rhetoric and reality more evident than in the formulation of global drug policies, where too often emotions and ideology rather than evidence have prevailed.”
In April the United Nations General Assembly will hold a special session on drugs, a chance Annan believes for changes to be made regarding global drug policies. He wrote four critical steps that he believes should be accepted and implemented. 1) Decriminalize personal drug use. 2)Accept that a drug-free world is an illusion. 3)Look at regulation and public education rather than the total suppression of drugs. 4)Recognize that drugs must be regulated precisely because they are risky.

Some final thoughts…

At PACE Recovery Center our men's only extended care drug and alcohol treatment program is built on the idea that by helping the client work on their underlying issues, they will be able to achieve long-term sobriety. PACE's addiction treatment team incorporates the most effective treatment modalities, which have been proven through empirical research. We will follow with interest the special session on drugs that will be conducted at the United Nations General Assembly.