Drug addiction is actually a disease and not an abnormal behavior. There is a wide misconception that people who abuse drugs are criminals, an assertion which is far from the truth. It may start off as a simple act of experimentation and then turn into a habit that you can't drop. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), has come to this conclusion after a four year research study by medical experts. The research concluded that addiction is a primary disease which arises due to a brain disorder and requires continuous treatment in the course of the patient's life.
The timing of this report was perfect because the United General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) recently held a session in New York with religious leaders from across the globe. The meeting was meant to find ways in which they could use their influence to push legislators into creating better drug policies.
The levels of opiate addiction have been on the rise and that has necessitated the need to classify addiction as a health issue as opposed to criminalizing it. Even though most drug abuse policies are fairly skewed against the minorities, available data indicates that most of those who abuse opiates are actually whites, a major contributing factor to the rise in addiction.
The President Nixon administration's policies on drugs created a lot of problems especially for drug users in urban centers. The bad policies resulted into mass incarceration of people with non-violent drug offenses in the United States and more than in any other developed country in the world. This then contributed to a lot of social problems such as broken families, racial profiling especially on minorities and the inability of released offenders to find work. The net result? Increase in criminal activities within black and other minority communities.
For a long time, it had been assumed that drug addiction was a vice confined to urban communities because of the general lifestyle of the people. There was therefore no desire to prevent it from happening or even carry out research on the issue. There was also the notion that African Americans and other minorities were the cause of several problems in the country and deserved to be in prison. Yet the current situation says otherwise. Opiate addiction is becoming more rampant among young whites, and with that a growing concern to approach the matter of drug abuse differently. The narrative has changed and addicts are now considered unwell and people that require medical attention.Maybe with this change of perspective, lawmakers will draft up policies that do not criminalize every addict but help them recover and lead better lives. Something also needs to be done about all those convicts languishing in prison with non-violent drug offenses. Lawmakers across the globe need to get rid of selective justice and do what is right by finding ways of helping these people get their lives back. It is the best thing to do if we want to make our societies better. After that conclusion by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), it remains to be seen how the issues will be handled from here on.