“This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?”
The Partnership for a Drug-Free America’s most famous and longest-running campaign is instantly recognizable. Anyone who had a television set in the 1980’s and 90’s immediately knew what they were watching when they saw an egg frying in a pan.
At the time, the American public only understood that crack cocaine was tearing apart their communities and creating unrest across the heartland. The United States launched a massive “Just Say No” campaign, headed up by First Lady Nancy Reagan.
As time has passed, the medical community has gathered a much better understanding of addiction and alcoholism. The United States Surgeon General even wrote his first report on Drugs, Alcohol, and Health last year. We now know that addiction is a disease, and not solely based on decision-making.
Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rolled back a number of different pieces of Obama-era legislation. One piece in Sessions’ memorandum to federal prosecutors instructed the nation’s judges and members of the correctional system to prosecute non-violent drug offenders with the harshest possible sentences. The Attorney General said this was the, “moral and just thing to do.”
What this means is an individual who is arrested with a personal amount of a controlled substance may conceivably receive a sentence of 20 years to life in prison. This sentence is even harsher than those of violent criminals. This has many from the U.S. judicial system and correctional offices crying out for leniency.
Our Austin, Texas drug and alcohol rehab is all too aware of how drug sentencing can destroy lives and tear apart families. Our team of clinical professionals has witnessed first-hand what can happen when addicts are placed in the jail system instead of receiving proper treatment. We’ve also witnessed how powerful the experience is when an individual receives court-mandated treatment and their life begins to repair.
The science is clear: placing non-violent drug offenders in the correctional system traps them in an endless cycle of pain and frustration. Treatment works. Recovery works.
What We Can Do:
Right now, our best bet for stopping these harsh sentences is to write to our legislators and share stories of hope in recovery. This link to the Texas House of Representatives will help you identify who your representative is based on geographic district.
Let our state representatives know that we can not only reduce spending in the correctional system, but save lives and rebuild families by advocating for treatment rather than jail time.