It is no secret that substance abuse is a widespread problem. From alcoholism to opioid addiction, a lot of people struggle. Misuse and abuse of these substances can lead to criminal penalties, such as DUI and drug possession charges.
While it is a widely accepted approach to stop crime, incarceration can be ineffective and expensive. Focusing on addiction treatment instead of jail is the better option, according to multiple studies.
Rehabilitation saves the country money
It turns out that drug courts are not the most efficient or effective way to deal with drug and alcohol offenders. Here is how sending offenders to treatment programs instead of incarcerating them is more cost-effective:
- Upfront costs of recovery programs are cheaper than incarceration expenses.
- Because of the health improvement of offenders, health care costs are reduced.
- Incarceration expenses are cut due to the fact that people who receive treatment are less likely to commit crimes.
- Court and law enforcement costs are cut when the crime rate drops.
To put this in perspective, a study finds that diverting just 10 percent of drug offenders to rehab instead of prison would save nearly $5 billion.
Treatment saves everyone money
Not only does substance abuse treatment save money for the criminal justice system, local communities and the country at large, it also saves personal money for those struggling with addiction and their loved ones too. Here are the personal expenses that can be cut with treatment:
- Court costs, bail and fees
- Health and medical care costs for injuries, illnesses and overdoses caused by substance use
- Expenses for supporting addicts who cannot support themselves
- Lost productivity because of a decreased ability to work
These costs add up over time. While there are expenses for attending treatment programs, they do not add up to the same amount over a lifetime.
Anyone suffering from addiction deserves assistance, not just punishment.