New Proposal Encourages Drug Treatment Instead Of Jail Time

Many people living with an addiction never receive treatment. Changes to laws that currently punish people who are experiencing substance abuse can help reduce the stigma of addiction and get people into recovery.

Treatment Instead Of Jail Time

Legislators in Washington state are working to ensure that more people in need of substance abuse treatment receive the care they need.

State Senator Jesse Salomon (D-Shoreline) introduced SB 5467 in January, aiming to give people facing drug possession charges and convictions in Washington the option to undergo treatment to avoid legal implications.

If the bill passes, the court would be required to dismiss charges against people who complete addiction treatment before a conviction is entered.

For people who have been convicted, once treatment is completed the conviction would be overturned and the case dismissed.

However, if a person is convicted of illegal drug possession and refuses treatment, the court would be required to impose at least a 45-day jail sentence.

If treatment or funding for treatment wasn’t available, the person would not be sentenced to jail. The bill has yet to pass and its implications are still being considered.

Expanding Treatment For Substance Abuse

With an increasing number of people experiencing drug addiction in the United States today, legislators across the nation are working to ensure that people have access to help.

This includes measures such as the proposed legislation in Washington state, the expansion of Medicaid to cover addiction treatment services, and other efforts.

Many of these efforts reflect ways in which the stigma of addiction is being reduced. Instead of being seen as a crime, drug abuse is being understood for what it is: a chronic disorder.

Addiction impacts people of every demographic, young and old, rich and poor, of every race and ethnicity.

Signs and symptoms of addiction include:

  • changes in energy (high or low energy)
  • exaggerated weight loss or gain
  • poor muscle coordination
  • loss of motivation
  • anxiety
  • spending large amounts of money
  • paranoia
  • isolation
  • an inability to stop using the drug despite the negative consequences
  • drug cravings

Most people with a substance use disorder never receive treatment.

An Underserved Population

According to recent data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), only 13 percent of people who need treatment for substance use disorders receive it.

Untreated addiction, like other untreated mental illnesses, can lead to:

  • relationship problems
  • work problems
  • financial problems
  • legal implications

Substance abuse’s impact is felt by people other than the individual with the disorder. Addiction affects family members, friends, coworkers, and other people too.

Reducing the stigma around addiction can help more people get the treatment they need and lead a full, healthy life.

Changing laws to help people with substance use disorders, rather than punishing them, is one example of how the stigma of addiction is being addressed.

Helping Reduce The Stigma Of Addiction

Everyone can play a role in ending the stigma of addiction. Stigma is the result of a lack of knowledge, so educating yourself about addiction is a great way to defuse stigma.

Here are a few more ideas to help break the stigma of addiction:

  • speaking out against misconceptions and negative
  • language around addiction, including on social sites
  • sharing your own story of substance abuse
  • using supportive language, such as “a person with a substance use disorder,” not an “addict” or a “junkie”
  • talking openly about substance abuse issues

Like people with other diseases, when people with a substance use disorder receive medical care, they can recover and live a full life.

Find Treatment For Addiction Today

If you or a loved one is experiencing substance abuse, help is available. Call us today to learn about taking the first steps toward recovery.

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