Why President Donald Trump is Wrong to Increase Prosecution of Drug Offenders; Addition Expert Reacts to President Trump’s Opioid Briefing

President Donald Trump this week pledged stronger law enforcement and increased criminal prosecution of drug offenders to combat the opioid epidemic, a move many addiction experts think will hurt people recovering from addiction.

“As an addiction medical doctor and psychiatrist, we are making a big mistake as 80% of drug law violations in 2015 were for possession (not manufacturing or sales) and the people most affected by increased prosecution are those suffering from substance use disorders,” said Dr. Indra Cidambi, Medical Director at the Center for Network Therapy, New Jersey’s first Ambulatory Detoxification facility.

“More prosecution will leave people in recovery with a criminal record while trying to re-integrate into the job market and it will cost us more to prosecute and jail these individuals,” Dr. Cidambi noted. Instead, Dr. Cidambi advocates using the ‘token economy’ model to universally offer individuals a clean record upon successful completion of addiction treatment. “Decriminalization will save us huge sums of money, which can be redirected to treatment and prevention,” she added.

“I have been treating individuals suffering from substance use disorders for over a decade and many times the biggest hurdle for recovering addicts trying to re-integrate into society is their criminal record,” said Dr. Cidambi. “The stigma of a drug law violation that stays on their record for a long time, boredom and continued dependence on family, acts as trigger for relapse.”

According to a Department of Justice report, half the total cost of illicit drug use in 2007 was related to criminal justice and incarceration, while, as per the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 80% of drug law violations in 2015 were for possession (not manufacturing or sales). “With the Center for Network Therapy estimating that the drug epidemic cost the U.S. economy a total of $1 trillion in 2015 (https://www.recoverycnt.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/actual-cost-of-drugs.pdf), criminal justice and incarceration costs were likely in the $500 billion range and will rise with policies that promote criminalization,” said Dr. Cidambi.

Drug abuse has wide-reaching consequences for the U.S. economy, so much so that Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen has attributed rampant opioid abuse to the decline in labor…

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