America, it's time that we wake up. It's time that we wake up and realize that treating people with drug addictions like criminals is not going to help anything.
Prison just punishes those with addiction problems without providing a solution. It's not treatment — it's straight up punishment. They don't provide guidance to those struggling with the drug addiction; they just lock them up for a period of time before releasing them back into the real world without any guidance on how to actually live a clean life.
In addition, even if they do somehow get clean after being in jail, finding a job now becomes nearly impossible because they have a criminal record from being jailed.
I understand the argument that people make the choice to do drugs — I get that. What I don't understand, though, is how people would rather sit back and watch someone with a drug addiction suffer than help them get help.
In 2014, 21.5 million Americans battled with a substance abuse disorder.
21.5 million — let that sink in for a second.
To put that in perspective, there are around 323 million people in the United States, which means that over six percent of the population is struggling with a substance abuse disorder.
I've seen some of my family members fight and battle substance abuse disorders over the years and for one of my family members, it took his life.
If people are making the argument to decriminalize marijuana, then why aren't we, as a society, making an effort to help those with serious addictions? If we have the mentality that one drug isn't a reason to be jailed, then why is someone who is seriously struggling any different?
Not only would rehab treatment actually be a productive solution for those struggling with addiction — it would be much cheaper for the nation as well. The average cost of rehab for a year is $4,700 per a person whereas imprisoning someone for a year costs around $24,000.
It's cheaper to get someone the help they need — so why not save the government money AND help those who really need that help? Sometimes, the only reason people aren't getting help for their addictions is due to money. But, if the government can afford to jail them, they can afford to help them get into rehab.
By keeping those struggling with substance abuse in jail, it's also taking spaces from those who have committed real and heinous crimes.
It's time we stop denying those with substance abuse problems the help they need and start giving them the tools to get back on track.