Approximately half of the people arrested for major crimes such as homicide, theft, and assault were under the influence of drugs at the time of their arrest.* Addiction not only impacts major crime it also effects a variety of risk-raking behaviors. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) lists effective addiction treatment principles: treatment must attend to multiple needs of the individual and not drug use alone; multiple courses of treatment may be required; treatment must be readily available; and an adequate time spent in treatment is critical. As seen in the graph, addiction treatment can reduce the percentage of addicts exhibiting risk-taking behaviors.
Much like other chronic diseases, addiction has a genetic link, is influenced by environmental factors, and can be treated. Addiction treatment attempts to identify and modify the environmental factors that contribute to the course and outcome of the disease. Therapeutic communities (TCs) focus on the addict’s environment as a therapeutic ingredient to cure addiction. TC changes the lifestyle of a patient by providing a community of peers and staff in a residential setting and TC often takes 6-12- months. Weekly cocaine use dropped from 65%-21% in addicts after completing a TC treatment program. Behavioral therapy and medication are effectively used in TC. Illegal activity in addicts who attended a TC decreased from 78% to 52% after the completion of treatment. One could argue that treatment does not work because the problems do not completely end. However, the large decrease in all of the categories confirms that treatment does reduce the risk-taking behaviors associated with addiction.
Because recovering from addiction requires changing lifestyle habits, successful treatment is extremely difficult. Although daunting, successful treatment improve the life of the addict by decreasing risk-taking behaviors. Weekly marijuana use for patients who went through the treatment dropped 40% after the completion of the TC program. Treatment for addiction with TC decreases risk-taking behaviors which produces indirect benefits for all of society due to fewer criminal acts and subsequent incarceration.
*National Institute on Drug Abuse, Drug Abuse and Addiction: One of America’s Most Challenging Public Health Problems. Accessed March 27, 2019.