There’s a high correlation between alcohol and substance abuse and criminal justice interventions for drug abusers. In fact, about 80% of people incarcerated have some sort of substance abuse disorder. In response, the U.S. government has spent about a trillion dollars on judiciary efforts to try to curb the influx of drugs coming into the country and the number of people who are the eventual consumers of these drugs. Unfortunately, rather than decreasing the amount of drugs coming into the country and Nebraska, and the number of people using them, the demand for drugs has only increased.
Why are traditional criminal justice techniques ineffective?
There are some pretty serious consequences to using drugs, including child custody decisions. Unfortunately, as long as there’s a supply, it’s going to be worthwhile for drug cartels to siphon drugs into the country, and the criminal justice system’s attempts to lessen the demand for the drugs by punishing the drug users have proven ineffective for a number of reasons that neuroscience can shed some light on.
First off, it’s not possible to punish someone out of drug use and addiction because the reward that the brain receives from drugs is so high that the user begins to consider the use of the drug as much more valuable than any other goals. When a user ingests drugs, they get an upsurge of dopamine, which is a hormone that makes people feel good no matter what other circumstances are involved. Furthermore, long-term drug use can cause impairments in attention, planning, inhibition, emotional regulation, and other cognitive skills. Instead of trying to crack down on drugs (possession and distribution) through the justice system, science tells us to use evidence-based treatments.
Evidence-based addiction treatment therapies
There are a number of treatment therapies that can help people overcome their addiction, including medication, behavioral counseling, follow-up treatment, and treatment of co-occurring mental health issues, such as those caused by trauma.
Neuroscience and history show us that the criminal justice system and Nancy Reagan’s slogan of “Just Say No” are ineffective, but the U.S. healthcare system is still a long way off from being able to provide enough effective care to treat the already high population of addicted people.