We recently discussed Mental Health Diversion and highlighted a real-life example of a client who was eligible for Mental Health Diversion, granted it, and is now and the path to recovery. That client was an addict. In California, our penal system recognizes and tends to favor treatment of addiction while still recognizing that a crime has been committed.
Punish the Crime and Treat the Addiction
According to the Bureau of Prisons, as of January 4, 2020, 45.3% of all prison inmates are serving time for a drug-related offense. That’s 73,656 inmates out of a total population of 162,612 reported by the Bureau. That statistic does not take into account the number of people sitting in county jail for drug related offenses, which is likely innumerable.
California took steps towards rehabilitation for non-violent drug offenders in 2000 with the passage of Proposition 36. Non-violent drug offenders, because of Proposition 36, can serve their time in a drug treatment program rather than in jail or prison. Mental Health Diversion aims to do the same.
Addiction is a disease
Mental Health Diversion and Proposition 36 both aim to treat the underlying problem-the disease. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders recognizes the following as disorders:
- Alcohol use disorder
- Methamphetamine use disorder
- Cannabis use disorder
- Caffeine use disorder
- Phencyclidine use disorder
- Other hallucinogen use disorder
- Opioid use disorder
- Inhalant use disorder
- Sedative, hypnotic, or anxiolytic use disorder
- And more
What does addiction look like
Addiction isn’t someone hiding in the bathroom at Grandma’s house on Thanksgiving to do drugs or stealing her TV instead of sleeping in her guest room. Those are stereotypical examples. Addiction doesn’t look like anything specific. It looks like everyone. Addiction can happen to anyone.
Addiction starts with the first use of any substance
Think about coffee. Many people won’t start their day with out it. One in three Americans spent more on coffee in 2017 than they invested.The average American spends more on coffee than our retirement.
The addiction to coffee probably started out innocent. Just one tall blended coffee with whipped cream covered in caramel. Delicious caffeine! You’re alert and energized! That first one turns to one every day. The tall turns to a venti. You don’t feel the jolt anymore. You start adding shots to it. You need coffee to make it through the morning, and now also the afternoon. $10.00 a day with nothing but receipts to show for it.
You decide to cut back. Your head hurts really bad. You’re sluggish. You’re cranky. You’re experiencing withdrawals.
You’re addicted to coffee.
You go visit your barista, who knows you by name and knows your drink. She smiles, you hand over your debit card. It’s a seamless transaction. You take a sip, and you feel better. You’ve relapsed.
- Initial Use
Addiction is simple. Addiction is a disease. It can happen to anyone. The Criminal Justice System in California recognizes that and is trending toward treatment and away from mass incarceration of non-violent drug offenders.
If you or a loved one are struggling with criminal consequences stemming from addiction, contact us for a no-cost consultation.