Anyone who was at least of high school age during the 1980’s will probably remember the “War on Drugs.” This ‘war’ was supposed to curb the drug abuse epidemic in America. Unfortunately, the War on Drugs turned out to be disastrous.

In the past few years, Americans have demanded change from the failed War on Drugs Policy, and change is finally happening. As an example, lawmakers and drug enforcement officials in South Florida recently acknowledged an important victory in the fight against flakka. Instead of treating addicts as criminals who would “fly straight” with the threat of prison time hanging over their heads, lawmakers enacted new legislation and increased their focus on community outreach.

The results were astonishing. Flakka arrests and flakka-related emergency room visits dropped by around eighty percent over a six-month period.

Better Drug Policies, Better Results

While South Florida’s battle against flakka was recent, the state has been a pioneer in improving treatment of addicts for over two-decades. Florida passed the Marchman Act, officially known as the “Hal S. Marchman Alcohol and Other Drug Services Act of 1993,” to provide the opportunity for addicts to get help rather than endure mandatory jail time. However, it has only recently been instituted as originally envisioned.

In the simplest terms, the Marchman Act works like this:

  • An addict may voluntarily seek help for their addiction without the threat of incarceration.
  • An individual who is facing drug charges may petition for a drug rehabilitation program in lieu of incarceration.
  • If there is good faith reason to believe an individual is substance-abuse impaired, and because of that impairment, has lost the power of self-control with respect to substance use, that person may involuntarily receive treatment rather than jail time, at the discretion of the courts.

Few politicians from either side of the aisle dared to introduce such policies during the height of the War On Drugs, lest they be labeled ‘soft on crime’. Thankfully, Florida’s lawmakers have instituted much more sensible policies than were in place during previous decades.

Earlier this year, the Florida legislature voted to unite the Marchman Act with the Baker Act, the latter being a very similar bill to Marchman Act, but focused specifically on mental health rather than drug addiction. Florida’s elected officials recognized what drug rehab counselors have long known: addiction and mental health problems are often co-occurring considerations, and so addicts often require co-occurring treatment.

Co-Occurring Problems Need Co-Occurring Solutions

It is now well understood that drug addiction is also a mental health issue. The National Institutes of Health considers drug addiction by itself to be a form of mental illness, and many addicts have a dual diagnosis; that is, they have been diagnosed with clinical, identifiable mental illnesses separate from their addiction.

There are often underlying psychological issues, which either contribute to addictive behavior or are the direct cause of it. Removing the substance from the afflicted person is a great start, but unless the root cause of the addiction is also treated, addicts will invariably relapse or find a substitute for their drug of choice.

People suffering from alcoholism and drug addiction need help, not incarceration. Cornerstone understands that mental illness often travels right alongside addiction, and we offer a comprehensive, co-occurring treatment program specifically designed to address such circumstances. Please contact us online or call 888-711-0354 for more details.