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May 1

Morgan May
Fiona Harris Ramsby
April 29, 2014
English 1010
Treatment vs Incarceration
In my English class we were told to write an issue summary paper on a subject that has
special meaning to us, the topic I have chosen is, How treatment is more beneficial than jail
time. This subject hits really close to home for me, I had a boyfriend who was a heroin addict and
spent plenty of time in and out of jail. I saw first- hand, the effects incarceration it had on Greg
and how it was, in no way, beneficial to his sobriety. There were numerous times he would go in
completely sober and had been for months, then would come out completely tweaked. Given my
history about this topic, I engage in research on the arguments and standpoints of researchers on
how treatment is more beneficial and why. Consequently, researchers have stressed that it is
important to know the affects incarceration has on these very sick addicts and how it can cause
more damage in the long run. In the research I did Katherine Finkelstein, writer for the new your
times states that not only can treatment be more beneficial to the addicts but to society as well
because the amount of tax dollars saved to run the jails as well as the over- crowding that takes
place (Finkelstein 1). This research helps to show society that there is always a better way of going
about things, while sometimes punishment seems like the most plausible fix it usually isnt. They
show that its more than just a quick simple fix; it takes effort to solve the drug problem.
Why should treatment be the go to?
The first view point is from the perspective that treatment is very beneficial and should be
the go to for most addicts. Upon doing research on this topic, I found that most people are in
May 2

Addiction should
be understood as
a chronic
recurring illness
favor of treatment because researchers feel it has better success. In an article I found it states that,
Punishing drug addicts allows them to commit more crimes later( Adler 1). It implies that, if
these addicts do not receive the help they need the issue tends to get worse. This has been an
issue that criminal justice officials have had a hard time getting society on
board with because they feel that giving treatment is letting these addicts
off the hook. Society feels the offenders are getting out of punishment.
Finkelstein states that, Instead of going to jail, the defendants will enter a
rigorous treatment program that will generally last 2 year, they will submit
to strict monitoring by court officials, including continued drug tests. This
proves that it is still along the lines of punishment but with the added benefit of
treatment. Alan Leshner, the director of National Institute on Drug Abuse states that Addiction
should be understood as a chronic recurring illness (Stuart 2). Leshner goes on to talk about how
this disease has relapses and recurrences all the time. He talks about how it is better to treat the
issue at hand than to punish for it. By taking this approach it reduces the chance of relapses, which
is huge. Researches stress treatment, treatment, treatment if you are looking for a long term
successful fix.
Methadone: To door not to do
Viewpoint 2 stands on the negative effects of Methadone. A lot of times when these
addicts are incarcerated the only treatment or attempt to treat is through methadone. Although,
very beneficial, It can be just as addictive as any street drug. Brandon Stahl, writer for Tribune
Business news states Methadone is used as a means to wean these addicts off the harsher
substances ( stahl 1). Stahl discusses how millions upon millions of people have become addicted
to this medication and have not benefitted from the intended effect. Josh Bergstedt and addict,
May 3

who had been participating in methadone treatment,
states, after the first day, I was just lit, he said. Im
thinking, this is treatment? Holy cow (Stahl 1). We
can learn from this personal account that it can be
quite addicting if not administered properly, which
Stahl displays in his article. Researchers talk about
how this methadone is forced on these addicts as a way
to just get rid of the problem and move on to the next.
What jails dont realize is that it is doing more damage
than good for these inmates. Richard Carlson, supervisor
of the Tegwii Recovery Center, explains what this medication does to these addicts You have a
prison without bars, you have addicted these people and their lives essentially get flushed into
some mutant reality. Its a fog. Some of the best years of their lives wont amount to anything
other than a walk on a soggy beach on a foggy day (Stahl 3). He uses this to show to society,
treatment centers, jails and whomever, that its important to administer this medication properly
or it becomes just as detrimental as the other substances. Research shows that for a while, jails
were moving away from this treatment option because they saw how unsuccessful it could be and
have tried several other medications, but found later on when it was reintroduced into these jails
that if given and monitored closely, these addicts did stand a chance of being sober. Researchers
found that with in the first 6 months of methadone treatment, there were 137 reported cases of
ambulatory care visits (Barnett 1). We can take from this that it is not being used properly and that
it can be a very dangerous medication.
Mandatory punishment can be a life- saving tactic
Fig. 1. Methadone is comparable to most
street drugs and just as addictive.
2014 Balboa Horizons

May 4

My third viewpoint rest on the fact that court ordered treatment is beneficial. When
treatment is given in lieu of incarceration, it is usually court ordered and mandatory. Dr. Kathleen
Brady a treatment expert in South Carolina states, In my clinical practice Id say that I havent
had one patient that came in because they woke up one day out of the clear blue and said, Im an
addict and I need to get clean ( Brady 1).Brady argues that this is the push addicts need in order
to achieve sobriety, almost all of them do not want the help but are grateful in the end because
they actually succeed and over- come their addictions. Yes, they may see the treatment as
punishment in the beginning but that usually changes according to Brady. She states that this is
one of the reasons society feels its a waste because these addicts dont want to be there but in her
research it proves it to be beneficial. A patient who was given mandated treatment says, Drug
court, at first, was getting in my was of using, but I think without drug court, I probably would
never have went to Gaven House, got me a program and got me in line for getting sober(Brady
1). This solidifies the idea that there are success stories and it really can be helpful. Etienne
Benson, monitor staff for American Psychological Association says that, As a society, in todays
world, we focus so much on punishment and justice that we dont seek ways to solve the
underlying problem (Benson 1). This opportunity of getting treatment over being put in jail is not
a luxury but a necessity. Benson talks about how a lot of these addicts are in fact mentally ill and
that we have put so many of these people into the system that prisons these day are becoming
more like a mental hospital without the necessary staff or help to care for a mentally ill person.
This is a huge contributing factor as to why these addicts dont seek out treatment themselves
because they are not mentally capable or dont feel like they have a problem. Benson concludes
that, In turn these drug courts give them the opportunity to get the required help (Benson 1).
May 5

Drug court helps free these people from
their addictions.
Fig. 2. 2009 The State Bar of

We can conclude from this research that treatment is better, no questions asked. It is
obvious as to where the authors of my article stand based upon arguments and extensive research
they have done on this topic. They greatly display the positive
effects and outcomes of treatment over incarceration. I, for one,
am strongly in favor of treatment because I have seen first- hand
that there is no better option. I have seen for myself that
methadone has two very contradicting sides, my boyfriend was
give this medication in jail and it did absolutely nothing for him
other than become another obstacle to over-come. I have also
seen the good side to it as well; he was given mandatory treatment
and put on a strict methadone program where he was closely
monitored. It was amazing to see how beneficial it was when
prescribed and administered correctly. As far as mandated treatment, Im all on board
or this as well because without this opportunity, my boyfriend would have never taken the
initiative to get clean and stay sober. These addicts deserve to be helped just as much as anyone
else. It is a better route to take in the way that it not only helps with sobriety but mends
relationships and families as well. By helping these addicts and not just putting them away, drug
courts are helping society as a whole because something is being done to solve the problem, not
just setting it aside for later.

May 6

Works Cited
Finkelstein, Katherine e. "New York to Offer most Addicts Treatment Instead of Terms." New
York Times, Late Edition (East Coast) ed.: 0. Jun 23 2000. ProQuest. Web. 8 Apr. 2014 .
Barnett, Paul G. "Comparison of Costs and Utilization among Buprenorphine and Methadone
Patients." Addiction 104.6 (2009): 982-992. Academic Search Premier. Web. 8 Apr.
Benson, Etienne. "Rehabilitate or Punish?" American Psychological Association. Etienne
Benson, Aug. 2003. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.
Brady, Kathleen. "Mandated Treatment." HBO: Addiction Treatment. NIDA, 2014. Web. 15
Apr. 2014.
Stahl, Brandon. "DNT Investigation: Former Patient Says Methadone Treatment was 'just
another Addiction'." McClatchy - Tribune Business NewsSep 23 2012. ProQuest. Web.
13 Apr. 2014.
Stuart, Elaine. "Rehab, Not Jail." State Government News 44.8 (2001): 26. Academic Search
Premier. Web. 8 Apr. 2014.