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What Effect Has Criminalizing Drug Use Had on The Epidemic?

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Thanks for joining us for the wrap up on how addiction affects the brain and how we can address this subject proactively. Having looked at how addiction reshapes the brain, making it very difficult for an addict to break free from addiction, we look at the current approach to drug use and discuss whether or not it’s effective.


In June of 1971, President Nixon declared a ‘war on drugs.’ His intention, as we understand it, was to stamp out the scourge that drugs had on society. Harsh laws tied judges hands, forcing them to hand down mandatory severe sentences for minor drug-related infractions. Families were torn apart, neighborhoods struggled, relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serves suffered immeasurably. In the end we were left with a complex and multifaceted social problem, that impacted everything from socioeconomics and race relations, to politics and child welfare.


Today the United States imprisons more people than any other nation in the world. Where the Netherlands is closing prisons for lack of prisoners, the US is building more prisons and releasing prisoners early due to lack of space. In addition, drug use in America is rising. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a recent study shows that there has been a steady increase in illicit drug use every year for almost a decade now. This is supported by a reported increase in the number of meth dump sites here in Michigan, which mirrors what the rest of the nation is facing.


However, while the problem looks overwhelming, there are a number of things that are changing for the better – and Michigan has the distinct honor of being home to several of them. One of our greatest steps that Michigan’s criminal justice system has taken when it comes to how substance abuse is dealt with, is the use of Sobriety Courts.


Although Michigan’s Sobriety Courts are focused on drunk drivers, it is making a huge difference around the state of Michigan for people who are struggling with alcohol addiction. For those eligible individuals who have been convicted of certain drunk driving offenses, the Sobriety Court program allows them to have a restricted driver license after they’ve had an ignition interlock device installed on vehicles they drive and own. This allows them the freedom to maintain jobs while they participate in therapy and other programs aimed at supporting recovery.


Drug Treatment Court has helped many people struggling with substance abuse.


Another very forward thinking aspect of Michigan’s approach to solving the issue of drug abuse, is the Drug Treatment Court. Michigan law defines this court as ” . . a court supervised treatment program for individuals who abuse or are dependent upon any controlled substance or alcohol.” The purpose of these courts is specifically to reduce recidivism and substance abuse among nonviolent substance-abusing offenders. They are also designed to increase the likelihood of successful rehabilitation through judicially supervised treatment, mandatory periodic drug testing and involvement in court-ordered therapeutic treatment.


Although the problem of drug abuse is getting worse on a national scale, Michigan has made revolutionary progress in addressing this complex issue. Criminalizing drug abuse has not proven to be an effective solution, but Sobriety and Drug Treatment courts have helped. In addition, experts in the field of drug addiction are making significant headway in understanding all that there is to know about substance abuse.


In the face of hard times, there is hope. The more addiction is studied, the more experts understand about what it means to be addicted and how it impacts the human brain, the better our chances of overcoming this epidemic in the future. Coupled with Michigan’s many specialized treatment courts and a slowly changing attitude towards substance abuse and addiction, we may yet overcome this epidemic in the future.


Until then, if you or a loved one are accused of a crime in Michigan, whether it’s drug related or not, we are here to help. Call us immediately at 866-766-5245. The skilled defense attorneys at The Kronzek Firm have decades of experience providing some of the best defenses available for drug charges, Assault, Murder, Sex Crimes and even Embezzlement. We are here to help you 24/7. Call us today.


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