Cameron Douglas, son of actor Michael Douglas, opened up about his difficulties with drugs in an essay published in The Huffington Post that criticizes current drug policy. He calls for treatment rather than jail time for non-violent drug offenders.
“Our prisons are filled with non-violent drug offenders who are losing much of what is relevant in life,” Cameron Douglas writes. “This outdated system pays little, if any, concern to the disease of addiction, and instead punishes it more harshly than many violent crimes.”
Douglas, 34, is currently behind bars, serving a nine-and-a-half-year sentence for several nonviolent drug violations.
“I’m not saying that I didn’t deserve to be punished, or that I’m worthy of special treatment. I made mistakes and I’ll gladly and openly admit my faults,” Douglas continues. “However, I seem to be trapped in a vicious cycle of relapse and repeat, as most addicts are. Unfortunately, whereas the effective remedy for relapse should be treatment, the penal system’s “answer” is to lock the door and throw away the key.”
Cameron Douglas was initially arrested in 2010 for selling methamphetamine. Afterwards, a judge nearly doubled the sentence when Douglas was found guilty of repeatedly breaking prison rules to obtain drugs. The ruling was the “longest-ever sentence imposed for obtaining a small amount of drugs in prison for personal use,” according to The Huffington Post.
In April, Douglas lost his appeal against the doubled prison term.
Although the court denied the appeal, they delivered a similar message: “It may well be that the nation would be better served by a medical approach to treating and preventing addiction than by a criminal-justice-based ‘war on drugs.’”
Most experts agree that the so-called ‘War on Drugs’ has been costly, involved, and largely ineffective. In 2011, a self-appointed commission declared that the ‘War on Drugs’ had failed. It has cost the US an estimated 7 billion dollars every year, and drug usage has remained largely unchanged.
Incarcerating drug offenders is largely ineffective, because addiction is a disease. Throwing someone in jail won’t cause them to quit using drugs in the long term. Substance abusers get re-arrested more than any other class of criminal. Over 40% of drug law offenders are re-arrested for a similar charge when they are thrown in jail. Meanwhile, when substance abusers are offered treatment, the rate drops to about 12%.
Douglas is expected to be released in early 2018.
If you or someone you love is in need of drug addiction treatment, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.