Drug Treatment Programs are a Better Alternative to Jail Time

Drug Treatment Programs are a Better Alternative to Jail Time

Drug use in the United States is down and expected to continue to decrease, according to the country’s chief on drug policy. A recent news article looked at how drug treatment programs are a good alternative to jail time.

When asked by his international colleagues if use of illegal drugs in the U.S. could be reduced, R. Gil Kerlikowske said yes. The U.S. National Drug Control Policy director told the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission that there are already signs the country is reducing its insistence for illegal drugs.

"American drug use has already declined by one-third since its peak in the 1970s," he said.

In the past five years, two of the most popular drugs, cocaine and methamphetamine saw decreases. Cocaine use dropped by nearly 40 percent where meth decreased by 50 percent.

An increase in treatment plans, instead of incarceration, could be one of the reasons for the decline of illegal drug use. Kerlikowske said that today’s government policy is making a clear division between professional criminals and criminals with a dependency problem. There is a difference and substance-use disorders can create a poor path to criminal behavior. It’s good that the government is upping the ante to diagnose those that can benefit from treatment.

He said to break the continued cycle of using drugs and crime, our policy is that the initial group be guided into supervised treatment. On a yearly basis, an estimated 120,000 individuals are put into drug treatment programs as an alternative to incarceration for drug-related offenses.

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