Substance abuse issues often start small. Someone gets a prescription after a car crash or surgery and then can’t stop taking the medication when their prescription ends. That person could get arrested for possessing or buying medication without a prescription or even using prohibited drugs as a substitute.
Unfortunately, the criminal justice system only helps to reinforce the chemical dependence of those accused of drug crimes. The psychological trauma people experience when going through the criminal justice system may worsen their addictions. People struggling with addiction may also turn to other forms of crime beyond possession or manufacturing to pay for it their habit.
Criminalizing drug use has done nothing to deter people and does nothing to resolve the underlying issues that push them into using drugs in the first place. Are the Washington drug courts an effective means of addressing substance abuse issues?
The drug courts focus on treatment, not punishment
Making drug use and possession illegal has simply created a new class of criminals in the United States. It has done nothing to decrease the rate of drug use across the country. People still get arrested for drug offenses every day.
Here in Washington, there are specialized courts that present an alternative solution for those accused of a nonviolent drug offenses. The Washington drug courts can connect someone with rehabilitation services and oversee their efforts to stop using a particular substance.
Those who qualify for drug court will have to have frequent meetings with court officials and will be subject to random drug testing, as well as counseling or possibly inpatient substance abuse support requirements. The goal of this process is to help individuals with substance abuse issues get to the root of their chemical dependence and break the cycle. Defendants who successfully complete drug court proceedings will not have a criminal record afterward.
There may be help available for those who need it
In general, modern society does not do enough to support those with substance abuse issues and mental health challenges. However, Washington state has relatively progressive policies when it comes to supporting those trying to overcome their substance abuse struggles.
Those accused of a non-violent drug offense will want to learn about their options for reducing the consequences of their recent charges. Learning more about state law and pre-trial diversion programs can help you better respond to Washington drug charges.