Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Methamphetamine Drug Courts. Effective or not?

Methamphetamine (meth) is a schedule II narcotic that has become more prevalent in our society over the last 20 years.  According to one national survey, over 10 million US citizens have experimented with meth.  Meth has been around since the late 19th century, where it was used as a treatment for narcolepsy and ADHD.  Through the years, its uses have taken a turn for the worse.  Today, meth is one of the most addictive and destructive drugs in modern society.
Meth is a stimulant, which causes moments of psychedelic euphoria and the loss of inhibition.  The effects of meth include, but are not limited to:  moodiness, irritability, aggressiveness, paranoia, violent behavior, depression and suicidal tendencies. The continued use of meth can result in tooth loss, as well as kidney, lung and brain damage.  Frequently, users of meth die from liver damage, stroke and heart attacks.  Those who don’t die, live a life full of addiction and crime to fuel their addiction.

One of the less thought about side effects of Methamphetamine use is that it has the potential of spreading disease among users and their peers through intravenous use.  The spreading of infectious diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis create a real and present danger.  Often times these effects go unnoticed until the effects of the disease run rampant amongst users and their partners.
The prevalence of meth in society has grown tremendously.  As an example, in 2000 there were 5,582 pounds of meth seized by federal authorities, compared to 17,489 in 2009.  This has resulted in one of the highest increases in drug seizures by federal authorities.  A 32% overall increase in seizures has resulted in federal and state governments becoming very concerned with the increased use and distribution of meth.  State and Federal authorities have moved the problem of meth production to the front of the line.

Many times, the result of continued meth use and addiction leads to criminal behavior due to the lack of inhibitions and the need to fuel their addiction.  From 1990-2008 there has been a dramatic increase in the number of incarcerations in both state and federal detention facilities.  In 1990 there were 773,919 prisoners housed in state and federal facilities, compared to 1,609,606 in 2008.  This is an increase of over 48% over 28 years.
Over the years, prison overpopulation has been the topic of conversation at both the federal and state levels.  Funding for these institutions has been cut with prison guards and detention centers being on the chopping block.  If this is going to be the new trend for years to come, something must be implemented to address the overpopulation of inmates and the cuts in funding.  Drug Courts are a prime example of an alternative to incarceration.  Drug courts can be defined as "special court calendars or dockets designed to achieve a reduction in recidivism and substance abuse among nonviolent, substance abusing offenders by increasing their likelihood for successful rehabilitation through early, continuous, and intense judicially supervised treatment; mandatory periodic drug testing; and the use of appropriate sanctions and other rehabilitation services."  As part of the drug courts process, non-violent offenders can have the opportunity to undergo long term treatment and counseling, minimal sanctions and frequent court appearances to monitor their progress.  Upon successful completion of drug court, sentences may be reduced, penalties may be less and there may be a complete dismissal of the charges.  Many are under the belief that drug courts are the answer to prison overcrowding. 
Overcrowding in prison and jails has become such an issue, that more attention needs to be devoted to alternative forms of punishment and rehabilitation.  Drug courts are a proven example of a viable alternative to incarceration.  Around the United States, drug courts are an increasing alternative that are being explored.  It is comforting to know that many are open minded enough to fund and explore this form of rehabilitation.  It is possible that a generational issue will keep drug courts from expanding like they should.  There is still a very large population that wants and "eye for an eye."  I think both sides have to come together and at least agree on the fact that something must be done because the current methods are not working.
 (http://www.nida.nih.gov/researchreports/methamph/methamph.html).  (http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2011/tables/11s0325.pdf).   (http://www.erowid.org/chemicals/meth/meth_timeline.php(http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2011/tables/11s0344.pdf).


  1. In my opinion meth is the scariest drug around. The effects it has on ones body is horrible. It is definitely a rising problem in our country. As for drug courts I am totally for them. They are excellent when it comes to actually rehabilitating people and the recidivism rates are extremely low! The way they do "business" in these courts is very different from the usual court scene. There are rewards and praises for those that succeed throughout the process. It seems more like a family environment and I think a lot of struggling addicts find that comforting.

  2. Meth is a very serious drug and is extremely uncontrollable. If you are an abuser of meth, I strongly believe you need to seek medical health immediately. Abusing meth is both detrimental to the body, mind and health. Not just for yourself but for others around you. As stated in the blog, meth can lead to other serious crimes due to the fact a person has to find a way to support their habit. I really like this blog because it asks the question about the effect of drug court. Drug court is designed to help an abuser of a drug to stop using that drug on decrease the likely hold of continuing abuse for that drug.
    Many people don't use the full benefits of drug court because the withdrawel period is extremely hard. To be honest it would be extremely hard to graduate drug court as a meth patient. Meth is such a hard drug so these participants are more likely to quit the program or terminated due to drug usage during the program. This is a continous struggle for drug addicts.

  3. I found it interesting that this drug was used to treat patients with ADHD and narcolepsy. Knowing all of the terrible side effects of meth, it should never be used as treatment. I also found it interesting how much more meth is being seized by law enforcment. The drug is even having a stronger presence in the media, such as shows like intervention. Drug courts can definitely help keep meth offenders out of prison, as long as they get proper treatment for addiction. As far the the generational part, I think as the problem gets steadily worse people will realize they need to treat these offenders different.