Debtors’ Prison

Read this article written by R. Gil Kerlikowske Director, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. This is how he describes people who abuse drugs:

“After all, addiction is not a moral failing on the part of the individual — science shows that drug addiction is a disease of the brain that can be prevented and treated.”

All of us know someone who suffers from a substance use disorder — we are not at war with our own people.”

We can address these two problems together and, in doing so, ensure that Americans are able to get treatment for chronic pain without falling victim to the disease of addiction.”

A disease, substance use disorder, victims of the disease of addiction. These are the words our government uses to describe those who abuse drugs. Now how do we justify the 1,725,387 people in prison on drug offenses?

In the movie, As Good As It Gets, Marvin Udall is an obsessive-compulsive who refuses to take his medication. In one scene he bursts into his therapists office:

Melvin Udall: *Help!*
Dr. Green: If you want to see me, you will not do this. You will make an appointment.
Melvin Udall: Dr. Green, how can you diagnose someone as an obsessive compulsive disorder, and then act like I have some choice about barging in here?

The diagnosis is that drug users are victims of disease, so how can the government justify putting them in prison? We don’t put people who get sick in prison; apparently sick people have a right to medical care. It makes as much sense as putting people who owe money in prison. I happen to believe that there is a third category, people who recreationally uses drugs who are not addicted (I myself am a huge fan of the drug alcohol and administer weekly doses as needed). But the words of Mr. Kerlikowske speak of victims of the disease of addiction and we put those victims in jail.

1.7 million people in jail. We are at war with our own people.

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