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Chemical Dependency Essay

1188 words - 5 pages

Chemical Dependency is a problem in our society. We have the war on drugs but that is not enough. We need the war on drug addiction. To further complicate this problem we also have people who have a personality disorder along with a drug addiction. When the two interact it can exaggerate the mental illness. This dually diagnosed population is clogging our criminal justice system because they are repeat offenders. Unfortunately the popular form of action is to lock these people up for a short period of time and then throw them back out on the street. Chemical dependence and mental illness are a disease, and this is not the cure.Mental illness and chemical dependency are both curable diseases, but often not without help. Mental illnesses can be cured with pharmaceuticals, counseling, a combination of the two, and abstinence from alcohol or other drugs. For chemical dependency there is detoxification, counseling, 12-step programs, some pharmaceuticals, and even hypnosis. More than anything else these diseases require time, effort, perseverance, and the help of trained professionals so that they may overcome them.Our criminal justice system is where many of Americas? mentally ill can be found. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics survey (1999), in 1998 about 238,000 mentally ill offenders were incarcerated in American prisons and jails. This number represents about 16% of all state prison and local jail inmates and 7% federal prisoners (White, Goldkamp, & Campbell, 2006). From other numerous studies we know that most people who suffer from mental disorders and find themselves in jail also suffer from co-occurring substance abuse. Our criminal justice system is not where these dually diagnosed individuals belong, the mentally ill and disabled are not likely to receive the care and treatment they require in America?s police stations, jails, and prisons. In fact evidence suggests that the criminal justice system can even make their problems worse. The majority of those offenders who are mentally ill do not engage in violence however there is an exception to this. ?Some research has identified certain risk factors, most notably substance abuse, that increase the likelihood that an individual with mental illness will become violent? (White et al., 2006). This is one excellent reason that people who have a dual diagnosis should be treated because this potential violence is unnecessary and can be prevented. This is one of many situations where we can be proactive in the criminal justice system instead of reactive.Those mentally ill individuals that do find themselves in the jail are treated with the bare minimum of resources. The jail tries to mainly protect and stabilize these inmates while they are confined. ?Approximately two thirds of seriously mentally ill inmates in the Cook County Jail were not diagnosed and treated? (White et al., 2006). When these persons with mental illnesses and co-occurring substance abuse continue to go undiagnosed...

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