Social and medical scientists still don’t fully understand addiction. Most modern research indicates that addiction stems from both biological predisposition through genetics and issues that stem from someone’s upbringing and enculturation.

For example, someone raised in a family where everyone drinks may be at greater risk of developing alcoholism later in life. Additionally, those who have family members with addiction, even if they don’t have a relationship with that family member, may have a genetic predisposition toward addiction. Unfortunately, instead of acknowledging that addiction is essentially a medical condition, our culture continues to treat substance abuse and dependence like criminal offenses.

Controlled substance laws make it illegal to possess, use, manufacture, or sell prohibited and controlled substances. This approach means that those struggling with addiction could wind up facing serious criminal charges and substantial penalties, especially if they have repeatedly violated drug laws. Drug courts offer an alternative for those who want to break the cycle of addiction and criminal consequences.

The problem with the criminal approach to addiction

In theory, punishing someone for bad behavior teaches that individual to avoid making the same mistake in the future. Unfortunately, our current system of punishment relies substantially on incarceration.

Not only is incarceration potentially psychologically damaging, which can worsen someone’s tendencies toward substance abuse, but ending up in prison can mean immersion in a criminal culture where drugs are not only still readily available but other crimes also receive social acceptance or even praise in some situations.

People can come out of jail only to face social isolation due to the stigma associated with criminal convictions and drug use, leading people to feel as though they are all alone, which could push them back toward their preferred chemical crutch.

Drug court can help people seek treatment and break the cycle

People who get incarcerated often violate the same laws after they secure their release, which means they wind up charged and back in state custody again. The drug court system seeks to connect addicted individuals with treatments ranging from withdrawal therapy for those chemically dependent on substances to counseling and career development to help people improve their prospects in life.

Unlike criminal court, the drug courts focus on rehabilitation and on helping people reintegrate as productive members of society. If addiction is the root cause of a pending drug charge you face, going through the drug courts could be an option that could help you change the direction of your life.