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Letter: Drug court does not properly address the addiction crisis

Drug court does not properly address the addiction crisis

Drug court is a very well-intentioned failure. It pushes habitual users (to be distinguished from neurobiological addicts) into therapies that were designed for true addicts.

There are methods to diagnose true neurobiological addicts. Referral from drug court, without a medical diagnosis whether the convict is primarily physically addicted or is primarily a behaviorally based substance abuser, is counterproductive. It is a popular, apparently enlightened but actually crude and ineffective response from the court system to the problem of addiction.

Undisciplined drug court referrals close out true physical addicts from therapies that could be helpful alternatives to prison. They also clutter and dilute the effectiveness of those therapies, when many referees are there because “it beats prison,” and without any sincere intention to end their involvement with drugs.

A lot of that federal money should go toward development of systems of evaluation/diagnosis whether a potential referee is a neurochemical addict or a behavioral substance abuser. There might be use for drug court, but different types of substance use disorder require different therapies. These distinctions should be recognized by the judicial system.

David Chambers


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