Substance abuse is not always related to illegal behaviors. Prescription medications, over-the-counter substances and alcohol that is purchased by an adult over 21 can still result in the development of physical and emotional dependence on the substance. Although drug laws are designed to help protect individuals from using illegal and harmful substances, there are debates about how much it is actually helping.
Drug Laws Related to Jail Time
Although every state has different laws and regulations, many will require time in jail or prison after an individual is caught using drugs or engaging in a behavior that is potentially risky. For example, driving under the influence of alcohol may result in a jail sentence. If it occurs more than once, then the amount of time that an individual spends in jail may increase.
During their time in jail, the individual using drugs or alcohol will not have access to the substance. The problem is that jail does not necessarily help those individuals who may have a chemical or emotional dependence on the substance. The treatment options may be limited and many individuals need different solutions than the ones that are offered in jail.
Laws Related to Treatment
While jail time may not be the most effective solution, some laws related to substance abuse are designed to help individuals who are using the drugs or alcohol. In some situations, individuals are allowed to enter a treatment center rather than go to jail.
Laws related to treatment may vary and in many cases they only apply if the situation does not also relate to other crimes. For example, if an individual was using drugs, then the judge may determine that treatment is appropriate. On the other hand, if an individual was using drugs and stealing a car, then he or she may be required to spend a certain amount of time in jail before being allowed into a treatment program.
Legal Substances and Drug Abuse
Not every case of substance abuse is related to illegal substances. In many cases, prescription drugs, alcohol or over-the-counter medications may be abused. Developing a chemical dependence on the substance may be accidental, but finding the substance in the blood stream after you or your loved one gets into an accident may still result in criminal charges.
Legal substances can still cause problems if they are used inappropriately. It is possible to abuse pain killers, sleep medications and other substances accidentally, which may inadvertently result in dependence and inappropriate behaviors.
Drug laws are designed to protect innocent bystanders as well as the individual using drugs or alcohol. Although there are areas that may need work, the goal of drug laws is protection and assistance. In many cases, treatment is made available to individuals using drugs or alcohol, even after they are arrested for other crimes. The jail may or may not offer treatment, but many will provide support groups and counseling to get started on a treatment plan.
Overall, drug laws can be helpful or hurtful to individuals who are using drugs or alcohol. The actual goal of any drug law is to protect innocent bystanders. The laws are meant to help and many authorities will consider the situation before a sentence is given in court. In some cases, the laws are helpful because the individual using the substance may enter a treatment program.