The White House Says: Addiction is a Disease, NOT a Crime!

Yesterday, Gil Kerlikowske — director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy — gave a speech calling drug addiction not a crime, but a public health issue and chronic disease of the brain. He believes that the main focus of criminal incarceration placed on addicts ignores the potential for treatment and recovery through education, rehabilitation and prevention.

Quotes from Kerlikowske’s speech:

  • According to estimates from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 8 percent of Americans age 12 or older – about 21 million people – needed but did not receive substance abuse treatment at a specialty facility in 2010.
  • Research from the National Institute of Justice found 38,000 state and local statutes that impose additional penalties on people convicted of crimes-including drug-related crimes.
  • We are taking a close look at laws meant to deter drug use that unintentionally hurt people on the path to recovery. 
  • We must modify or repeal laws that keep a qualified person in recovery from getting the basics they need to rejoin society.

According to ThinkProgress, April’s strategy report released by the Office of National Drug Control Policy estimated that in March of 2012 alone, 23.5 million Americans sought drug or alcohol treatment. “The report called for more than 100 changes in US law and counter-drug programs. …The American Psychiatric Association, which produces the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or D.S.M., announced last month that it would “’expand the list of recognized symptoms for drug and alcohol addiction, while also reducing the list of symptoms required for a diagnosis.’”

Where do you fall in your beliefs? Do you agree with Gil Kerlikowske?

Is drug/alcohol addiction a crime, a disease or somewhere in the middle?


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