There is a very strong association between criminal activity and addiction. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, addiction plays a major role in criminal matters. Research shows that the majority of those in state custody have or previously reported having issues with substance abuse or other serious mental health challenges.
Addiction pushes people into theft and other crimes to help acquire their substance of choice. Punishing people for addiction often only reinforces their substance abuse disorder. For many years, lawmakers and criminal justice professionals ignored the strong statistical correlation between substance abuse issues and criminal misconduct. Thankfully, the zero-tolerance approach to substance abuse disorders and drug offenses has started to change. Those who are struggling with addiction may now receive more compassionate treatment from the courts as a result.
There are specialty courts to help end addiction
Adult drug courts are different from standard criminal courts. Someone arrested for drug possession or a similar offense would have to plead guilty or not guilty and then either defend themselves or prepare for sentencing in criminal court.
In the drug courts, someone acknowledges an arrest and the criminal accusations against them but makes the assertion that their offense directly relates to a substance abuse disorder. Instead of punishing the defendant, the drug courts help support them in their bid to achieve sobriety.
Drug court proceedings often involve mandatory counseling and possibly inpatient treatment, in combination with frequent court meetings and randomized drug testing. Those who successfully complete drug court proceedings will likely have a better handle on their addiction than they did before their arrest. They can also potentially move on with their lives without a criminal record that will forever limit their opportunities.
Admitting an addiction is an important first step
It is hard for even those arrested for a crime to admit that they don’t have full control over their own behavior. One of the reasons that treatment courts have gained popularity is that a growing body of evidence supports the claim that people need help, including psychological support and accountability, if they hope to overcome addiction and improve their lives.
Connecting pending criminal charges, like drug possession charges, to a substance abuse disorder can be the first step in constructing a viable defense strategy. Speaking with an experienced legal professional about the links between criminal activity and substance abuse challenges is a good way to achieve that consequential goal.