Addiction A Disease Not A Moral Failing

In a refreshing breakthrough in the US, we have seen the director of the National Drug Control Policy release a statement outlining that addiction is a disease and not a moral failing.

The statement could have some significant effects on law making and policy reform as we see more and more addicts jailed for crimes relating to their disease.

Many addicts find themselves in court

Gil Kerlikowske, the director of the National Drug Control Policy, has announced a new focus on treating drug addiction as a disease, not a moral failing, and emphasizes removing the stigma placed on drug abusers.

Speaking at the Betty Ford Center in Palm Springs on Monday, Kerlikowske declared that “this country hasn’t looked at recovery in a way that makes sense,” and that he intended to “use the bully pulpit of the White House in a way that brings it out into the open.”

Previous federal drug policies were a three-legged stool, Kerlikowske said, with criminalization, prevention and treatment serving as the foundation for national policies. Now there will be a fourth leg – recovery.

Forming the administration’s new attitude toward drug problems “meant moving beyond talking in the beltway … it meant talking to real people dealing with addiction,” Kerlikowske said.

Source: LA Times

We often stigmatise addicts, seeing them as some kind of moral failure. In many countries treatment fails so many addicts often end up within the prison system.

Focusing on recovery

One point to note is that the fact that drugs are illegal in most parts of the world, this fact doesn’t deter people from trying drugs and or becoming addicted to drugs.

It is estimated that over 90% of the prison population in the US alone are there because of drug related crimes.

As society develops an understanding of addiction, we may see a different approach to the disease starting to take shape. Addicts that find themselves caught up in the treadmill of the legal system may actually get the help they need.

Do you think this is a breakthrough in the understanding and treatment of addicts?