If you were sober, you’d never break the law. You don’t have some inherent drive to cause trouble. You’re a pretty high-functioning individual. You have a good job, an education, a family and everything else that society expects of you. When it comes to most laws — theft, assault, etc. — you never have a problem. You consider yourself a good, law-abiding citizen.
Unfortunately, you are rarely sober. You’re an addict. You suffer from a disease. It drives your actions and makes you do things that run counter to everything else in your life. This includes possessing and using illegal drugs and alcohol.
If you get caught, what is to blame? Is this really your fault? Or is your addiction the true issue that you need to address? Is that the only reason you found yourself on the wrong side of the law?
You’re not alone
You certainly are not alone if you’re dealing with addiction. It’s very common in the United States and there is a clear link to criminal activity. Here are a few statistics that help paint the picture:
- Just over a third of people who get convicted (37 percent) say that they got arrested after drinking alcohol.
- A staggering 85 percent of probation and parole violations happen because of drug crimes and property crimes.
- A full 22 percent of people on probation say that they drink heavily, while 39 percent say that they binge drink.
- About 50 percent of those in prison or jail qualify as “clinical addicts.”
- Many people who go to jail and never get addiction treatment for drug and alcohol problems simply turn back to these substances within 12 months of their release, per the National Institutes of Health.
- Mental illness and drug abuse often go hand-in-hand, with the NIH reporting that roughly 75 percent of inmates who suffer from some type of mental disorder also abuse substances.
You could go on and on with related statistics, but it is quickly clear that drug and alcohol addiction causes a lot of criminal activity.
That is why it is so important to get treatment. Jail time, even if it means you cannot use drugs while you are incarcerated, does not give you a form of treatment. That’s why relapse is so common. Punishments are not enough. You already know you shouldn’t break the law, and you don’t want to, but you do it because the addiction has such a strong hold on you.
You need to know if you have other options, such as using the drug court system to seek treatment programs instead of jail time. This type of rehabilitation and alternative sentencing can help get your life back on track.