A huge body of evidence shows opioid addiction is a chemical brain disease – not a behavioral or lifestyle decision. Because of this, many people who are chemically predisposed to opioid addiction become hooked after taking lawfully prescribed opioid-based painkillers following a surgery or an accident. Once the prescription runs out, they turn to the illegal market to feed their addiction. These are not people with malignant intentions, they are suffering from an addiction – a medical condition.
How do we know imposing tough sentences doesn’t work to stem the tide of drug use, trafficking, and addiction? Because we tried it in the 1980s by assigning strong sentences to crack cocaine violations – and it failed miserably.
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