The Challenges of Going to Jail for Drug Use

Drug Use | Lakehouse Recovery Center

Incarceration for Drug Use Only Makes Life Harder

Lawmakers are learning that when a person is incarcerated for their drug use, life only gets harder for them. While they are in prison, the underlying problems that might have contributed to the drug use might only get worse.

And returning to their home community becomes even more challenging when they are released from prison. Furthermore, going to jail versus going to addiction treatment only seems to encourage more crime. Rather than assisting someone in healing physically and psychologically, jail time might only exacerbate their problems.

In fact, there is an incredibly high correlation between those who are in prison and substance use. Of the 2.3 million men and women who are in the U.S. justice system, about half of them have a history of drug use or addiction.

Another reason why drugs and crime seem to go hand in hand is the fact that many people who commit crimes tend to be under the influence at the time. Drugs and alcohol affect a person’s thinking, decision making process, and inhibition, which might lead deciding to do something one might not otherwise do.

Furthermore, jail time as a punishment for drug use comes with incredible costs. Not only does a person’s first time in jail cost money, but roughly one half of drug offenders return to prison because of a technical violation, such as failing a drug test.

However, if a person were sent to addiction treatment instead, then the possibilities of less crime and healthier citizens may exist. Sadly, of the 800,000 people in the criminal justice system who could use substance abuse treatment, only one third have participated in it.

Advantages For Sending a Person to Drug Addiction Treatment Versus Jail

  • Drug rehab costs less in the long-run versus jail
  • Drug rehab addresses the factors that might have contributed to committing the crime in the first place.
  • The costs of running a jail are far more expensive than those of running an addiction treatment center.
  • Drug rehab is essential for helping a person create a healthy lifestyle again.
  • Drug rehab can point a person in the right direction, whereas jail tends to keep someone trapped in the same life situations.

Because of the benefits that come with sending a person to drug rehab versus prison, more and more states are doing just that. According to, Maryland reduced the costs of criminal offenders down from $20,000 to $4,000.

Furthermore, this site indicates that California has also made the same change in the way they respond to offenders with a substance abuse history. Although California has endured some initial high costs, they recognize that by making this change they save substantially in the long-term.

It’s almost an obvious choice for state legislators to begin to require drug addiction treatment as a consequence for crime versus prison. However, it might take some time before all 50 states have made this standard practice.


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