Rehab Centers Question Side Effects of War on Drugs

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The War on Drugs continues to be a divisive topic for many Americans. As softer drug laws begin to unfold around the country, rehab centers such as The River Source of Arizona are chiming in on why treatment works, what it means for the user, and why it's ultimately a better choice than incarceration.

It is truly amazing to see how far someone can go with a healthy environment, professional guidance and some hope for the future.

The results of a 2014 nationwide survey by Washington D.C. think tank Pew Research conclude that approximately 67% of Americans believe treatment is a better option than incarceration for persons convicted of drug crimes. Accordingly, it should come as no surprise that many rehabilitation centers such as The River Source of Arizona support this changing attitude.

“It’s so gratifying to do video testimonials of alumni who have made it through our program and years later see them thriving in sobriety! It is truly amazing to see how far someone can go with a healthy environment, professional guidance and some hope for the future," says Malissa Stawicki, Director of Marketing for The River Source.

Drug addiction is now recognized as a diagnosable medical condition with legitimate treatment potential; however, not all individuals arrested for drugs may realize that rehabilitation could be an option for them. Drug users who are given quality care by compassionate staff in an inpatient facility tend to fare far better upon release with a lower rate of recidivism. Conversely, drug offenders who spend a significant amount of time behind bars tend to use again once released.

At present, the United States leads the world in drug-related incarcerations, which many have attributed to the now famous War on Drugs. Instituted in 1971 by the Nixon administration, the War on Drugs sought to hone in on a growing problem by both expanding the powers of drug enforcement agencies, while mandating prison sentences for a wide variety of drug offenses. Moreover, substances such as marijuana were temporarily classified as Schedule One narcotics alongside heroin and cocaine, which was believed to be a large contributing factor to the increase in drug-related incarcerations. As of 2011, around 50% of federal inmates were imprisoned for drugs, according to the U.S Department of Justice. As the war on drugs became more embedded in American society, subsequent administrations have carried the baton forward on this contentious issue.

In 2014, however, many states are lightening up on mandatory sentencing and other controversial drug laws, opting instead to favor decriminalization. While the debate continues, more than 40 states have amended their drug laws to reflect a different way of thinking which favors rehabilitation over criminality. Holistic treatment centers such as The River Source tend to agree with these decisions, having expressed concern​ over the growing drug problem and the need for professional detox and treatment centers.

Drug addiction is a serious health condition that often requires professional intervention. Depending on the situation, someone facing drug charges who is willing and able to get into a rehabilitation program could possibly reduce sentences or have charges dismissed.

Executive Director Rusty Ackerman says, "The miracle of recovery I see everyday in treatment, as opposed to incarceration, is watching individuals whose disease of addiction has taken them to the depths of incomprehensible demoralization actually having their lives turned around by working through the 12-Step process, experiencing a psychic change and an inner transformation as a result of the work they do here. Individuals moving out of selfish, self-centeredness into a life of helping others and just doing the next right thing. This is the solution."

With locations across Arizona, The River Source provides holistic addiction treatment based on the proven 12-Steps and a revolutionary naturopathic detox program supported by nutritional supplements. The River Source believes that when people are treated as patients instead of criminals, their chances of sobriety and future quality of life are exponentially increased.

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