The Rising Need for Drug Assessments

Between 2007 and 2014—the most recent statistics available—reported use of heroin rose 2.7 times, says the DEA. That’s at least 900,000 Americans, ages 12 and up, who used this highly addictive drug in 2014. It’s estimated that 586,000 of those suffer from a heroin use disorder.

In the same year, nearly 50,000 died from overdose. Deaths from synthetic opioid use rose 79% between 2013 and 2014, in addition to an increase in deaths of 3.48 time the number seen in 2010 vs. 2014.

Is it any surprise that in this environment, the dependence upon drug evaluations by the courts has increased?

More families are concerned as well as they see their teens experiment with drugs, only to become addicted. A drug evaluation at the right time can save the life of a family member. It can be the first step away from a spiral that leads far too often to broken relationships, loss of employment, loss of child custody and a life of crime.

The pain is unmeasurable whether death robs a family of a member or if life proceeds as a collection of broken promises. At Associated Behavior Health, our goal is to break the pain cycle by becoming part of the solution.

Reasons Washington State Favors Drug Treatment over Incarceration

This state is very favorable to using drug evaluations as a first step toward avoiding incarceration. Why? Because treatment often costs less than locking people with addictions up.

When a crime demanding a prison sentence is involved, the state often places addicts into programs within the prison system so the individual’s chances of returning to prison drop. However, the cost of in-prison programs is far higher than community programs.

This is just one of the reasons it’s far more practical to assist someone who has a drug problem with treatment than to just lock them up in prison. First, most drug crimes lead to short incarceration spans. The person may ‘dry’ out, yet they remain mentally hooked to their drug of choice (or a mix of drugs). The reasons behind drug use are rarely resolved by a few days of sobriety.

Even when a sentence places someone in prison for enough time that they are able to complete a full treatment plan, the artificial environment in prison does little to prepare them for life on the ‘outside.’ Old habits and thinking may have been challenged, however returning to the old environment often triggers a return to non-productive behaviors.

The state also recognizes that going to prison leaves a permanent impact upon someone’s ability to find work. It often traps them into an income that makes drug dealing an appealing income source. The consensus among Washington lawmakers leans toward nurturing a safe public environment by giving those caught driving under the influence of drugs or committing crimes to support a drug habit the tools they need to turn their lives around and return to being contributors to society.

At Associated Behavioral Health, we believe drug evaluations help the courts choose better sentencing options. The results of a drug assessment can replace an otherwise bleak expectation of prison time with hope.