Submitted by Emily Davison
In response to your story “Addressing Drug Overdoses in PA” regarding overdose reduction, I strongly believe that the legal system can play a role by treating offenders and not incarcerating them. The evidence is clear that treating addiction as a health issue leads to better outcomes for individuals and society as a whole.
Studies have shown that drug treatment programs are more effective than incarceration at reducing drug use and preventing relapse. Incarceration alone has little impact on long-term drug use. Furthermore, drug treatment programs have been shown to reduce criminal activity and recidivism rates.
Our justice system continues to rely on incarceration as the primary means of addressing drug addiction. This not only perpetuates the cycle of addiction and criminal activity, but it also places a significant burden on taxpayers. Incarceration is expensive, with estimates putting the annual cost per inmate at around $31,286.
Of course, drug addiction is a complex issue that requires a multi-faceted approach. Treatment programs should not only address the physical aspects of addiction, but also the underlying psychological and social factors that contribute to drug use.
It is time for our justice system to prioritize rehabilitation over incarceration and to invest in effective drug treatment programs that can help individuals overcome addiction and lead fulfilling lives. By doing so, we can reduce overdose deaths and improve the overall health and well-being of our communities.