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Why Treatment Based Approaches Are at Risk (and Why They Matter)

Why Treatment Based Approaches Are at Risk (and Why They Matter)

There are different ways to approach the challenge of helping people with addiction and substance use disorders. Treatment has been the focus for quite some time, but the opioid crisis has brought new lines of thought into focus. People are now being criminally charged for addiction and substance abuse at a higher rate for opioid use, which pushes treatment focused approaches to the background in favor of criminalizing behavior.


A report by the Vera Institute of Justice promoted a case for maintaining treatment-focused approaches to combating the opioid crisis while resisting criminalizing the people with addiction. The importance of considering a range of harm reduction approaches can help improve access to health services without increasing illicit drug use. Decriminalization of drug possession in the United States and other parts of the world has led to people getting into treatment in higher numbers. Policymakers must wrestle with these questions of how to be tough-on-crime while also supporting positive movement towards combating addiction. Many arrests are for possession only offenses, which begs the question of whether to criminally punish the people involved or try to send to treatment.

Momentum Towards Treatment

The report builds a case that policymakers and law enforcement professionals are embracing approaches to divert low-level drug offenders to treatment and support services. These programs can lead to lower short- and long-term recidivism rates and more successful placement in housing and employment services. Popular drug court programs have also been associated with reductions in recidivism. Many programs are not without their own challenges and failings, of course, but the key is that they are focused on helping those with substance abuse and not just focusing on putting them in jail for possession when what they need is treatment.

With more focus on client support, people can avoid lengthy incarceration which can impact future employment and other opportunities. Treatment may be expensive but there are myriad approaches to support them in getting what they need to be successful going forward in recovery. With the right policy, tools, and support, people can recover from addiction and live a healthy, productive life.

Serenity Detox helps clients get their lives back on track after addiction. We strive to provide services and programs that provide the most individualized approach in addiction treatment. For more information, call us 24/7 at our toll-free number: 866-294-9401