Certified National Drug & Alcohol Interventionists

Why Are We Still Incarcerating Addicts?

The stigma of addiction will continue to be hard to shake until its actually treated as a disease instead of a moral defect. However, I’m not sure if our judicial system will EVER be the one to force the issue. Frankly, because they are just making too much money off the backs of addicts and their families. Furthermore it could be fiscally crushing to many industries. In addition, pharmaceutical companies, prisons, & community supervision divisions depend on addicts to make a living and until we take a stand they will continue to make huge profits off a life-threatening disease. My fear is that it will be politicized, then forgotten..once again. Bills being blocked for selfish political purposes…much like the recent bills blocked by our senators, such as the “Veterans Jobs Bill” and “Farm Bill” which affect our hardest working Americans! Of course, while all this is happening our children are dying, overdosing, committing suicide, & of course, being incarcerated….As the new documentary The House I live In, points out, many men are doing life sentences for literally a few grams of meth. One man did admit he was wrong & was willing to be held accountable, but sadly he said what he really needed was help…treatment! But that option is not readily available to the hundreds of thousands of addicts in prison. And it is certainly not happening in a prison in Oklahoma!  This is, and as been the case for well over half the prison population for some time now.

What society doesn’t realize is that with or without proper treatment addicts are eventually going to be their neighbors. Without treatment is likely they will go back to “old ways”. BUT if they are properly treated they can be the best neighbors and greatest contributors to our communities!  An article on The Fix reports that, “policy makers choose to wait for a crisis for to occur….we continue to pay, and pay, and pay. For example, on average we spend over $25,000 per year to incarcerate each substance-involved offender but fail to provide treatment for their disease, insuring that they will be far likelier to be a repeat offender and be re-incarcerated…..we pay with our lives as millions of Americans each year succumb to this deadly disease. The fact is, very few people in this country have NOT been affected by addiction in one or more of its many manifestations.”  I am truly thankful to The Fix  for reporting on this issue that touches more lives in America than ANYONE would like to admit!What our society as a whole needs is prevention, intervention, & continuing care programs. And it can’t be said enough that, addiction can happen to ANYONE! Intercept Interventions has implemented a continuing care program as well as more prevention programs for communities and schools. Treatment is most times the first step in a long battle & most clients are not properly prepared for what’s to come the day they step out of treatment…and what they do that first back into the world sets the tone for their journey in recovery and it is very important that they have someone there to walk beside them in their recovery. BUT do we really think these people WANT to cure addiction? And this goes for all incurable diseases. If we think about it the last disease that we cured was Polio…with all our technological and scientific advances one would think we would be MUCH further along. Now it just takes an inexpensive vaccine to protect ourselves against Polio. However, this didn’t help the pharmaceutical companies’ bottom line and they don’t continue making lots of money…in the long-term when a deadly disease is eradicated. Preying on the vulnerable, weak, & desperate is what they do best!!!

Lastly, addiction is a disease and like anyone with a disease they are given a treatment plan to follow…if a diabetic doesn’t follow doctors orders they can end up in the hospital or worse, the same is true for addicts. If we spent more time and money on prevention & educating people, especially those “at risk” we could save money in the long run (but honestly we never know who’s “at risk” so its best to educate all). With programs like these up and running our incarceration costs, community supervision, and recidivism rates would improve significantly. In addition, if we spent more time immersing addicts into their local recovery community and continuing care after treatment relapse rates would surely go down.
Kelli Athas

I’ve added the following links from the sites I’ve quoted in this article, to offer more facts, and statistics  in hopes that people will take a look at the reality of this situation… It is important to the addiction treatment & recovery communities…If nothing else I hope this sheds some light on a topic has been left in the shadows for far too long!

2 Responses to “Why Are We Still Incarcerating Addicts?”

  1. Christine maxwell Says:

    Thank you ,,, my son is 22 a heroin addicit. He is in jail today. For a crime committed because of his addication

    Long story short . I bailed him out because he was dope sick ans suicdal. He went to detox, enterend a outpaitent six days a week. Went to aa and na , got a job, he was sober.until the day he found out his fate.. He was hoping for drug court treatment options. But the DA pushed for jail time. So now he sits behind bars. They took a 22 year old who turned it around and threw him away. For a feather on the DA hat

  2. Admin Says:


    That not only makes my blood boil but breaks my heart! My hope is that families will begin reaching out when faced with a situation like this….sometimes if a judge or DA has the options, plan, and case laid out for him/her and a stipulation is in place they are much more inclined to “allow” someone to go to treatment. We have been able to get repeat offenders facing 25 year sentences into treatment. Its not easy treatment but it is treatment that works….If I were in your position I would go directly to the judge and ask for long-term treatment or a drug court program. If we can offer any guidance or help please call! I am sincerely distressed by this situation because it seems he had no one but you believing in him and that in itself speaks volumes that the DA & Judge we not concerned for the best interest of a 22yr old boy!

    You will be in my thoughts and prayers! Call night or day: 214-377-8599 or 877-744-3578

    Take Care of yourself and hold on tight to your loved ones….in spirit or in your arms!
    Kelli Athas
    Intercept Interventions

Leave a Reply