If someone admits to committing a murder last year, or even 30 years ago, we don’t just get them “treatment”…the government indicts them and tries to imprison them. That makes complete sense, of course, because not only is there no statute of limitations for murder, there’s no excuse for it either. (My hypothetical here assumes murder, not a lesser included like manslaughter, and assumes the absence of self defense, etc.)
I’ve always found it odd then, that we have a dual system of imprisoning some drug users, while seeking treatment for others. Doesn’t the government frequently argue (in court) that the behavior of using the illegal drugs is worth punishing?
Which brings me to today’s quote from the Drug Czar’s blog. It comes from ONDCP’s Deputy Director for Demand Reduction, Dr. Bertha Madras, who was asked:
Why can't drug addicts just go straight to a local treatment center for help?
Dr. Madras: Only a small minority of addicts willingly seek treatment on their own. The vast majority do not seek treatment because they don't think they have a problem. They are unaware, in denial or ambivalent about seeking help.
She’s talking about this in the context of the procedures by which doctors can now bill Medicaid for drug and alcohol screening and intervention, even if that was not why the patient came to see them. But isn’t her statement at least implicitly a rejection of the notion that drug users should be jailed in the first place?
I guess it’s OK to use marijuana, cocaine or what have you, as long as you run into a doctor before you run into a cop…