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Ethical Issues Opioids And Incarceration: How To Break The Cycle (Research Paper Sample)


This research paper was based on the previous papers I had written for the client. I had worked on the outline and annotated bibliography. In this paper, I was to discuss how incarcerated opioid addicts can be helped to overcome addiction


Opioids and Incarceration: How to Break the Cycle
Institutional Affiliation
Opioid abuse is an ethical issue affects all cultures. The rate of incarceration due to opioid abuse in the United States has drawn the attention of ethical thinkers who argue that something has to be done to reduce the rate of incarceration. While it is not possible that the whole society gets addicted to the opioid abuse, the whole society can be affected by the consequences that arise from opioid addiction. Similarly, even though the whole society cannot be incarcerated, the number of opioid addicts in prisons keeps going high and becomes a burden to the taxpayers. Opioid abusers need money to maintain the level of satisfaction that they derive from drugs. This makes them engage in crimes, some of which leave casualties behind. People driving under the influence of opioids cause accidents that result in deaths. All crimes committed under the influence of opioids earn the criminals jail sentences.
One of the moral concerns about opioid addiction has been on the treatment that opioid addicts receive and why the treatment (if any) has failed to solve the opioid crisis. Scholars have argued that treatment of opioid addicts can help in reducing the number of addicts, hence lowering incarceration rates. Some scholars have also gone ahead to investigate the role that cultural factors play in opioid abuse and what can be done to reduce the incarceration rates. This study reveals that the reason for the surging opioid incarceration rates is because of lack of treatment programs in prisons. The study finds that prisons only make the opioid addicts withdraw from the drug for a while and when the individual has completed the jail-term, there is high demand for the drug and as a result, one engages in crime to get the money to satiate the need for drugs. The study focuses on the State of California which has recorded the highest number of opioid addicts and opioid-related incarcerations. The study suggests that treatment of addicted inmates is the only solution for breaking the incarceration cycle.
Opioids are a class of drugs that are used as pain relievers. Due to this benefit, some of them are prescribed by doctors for the treatment of pain (Fox et al., 2017). Opioid addicts are people who cannot live without the drugs. Addiction is like a disease and prisons alone are not enough to solve the opioid crisis. Prisons create a barrier by making it impossible for addicted inmates to access drugs. The State of California has the highest number of incarceration (Fox et al., 2017). Both Federal and State prisons do not have treatment programs for incarcerated opioid inmates (Williams, 2017). The few prisons that have treatment programs do not take the treatment of inmates serious and inmates are only treated when they are about to complete the jail term.
Prisons have become withdrawal areas for drug addicts. Drug addicts are only kept away from drugs for a while and then they are released to go back to drugs. This is a moral concern because it shows that the society does not care about its members. A responsible and caring society finds a lasting solution to the issue. Incarceration and opioid crisis can only be solved if treatment programs are given the seriousness they deserve or if the society opts for alternative sentencing for opioid criminals. This study responds to two level one questions and two level two questions. The level one research questions answered by this study are: (a) what are statistical facts related to opioid abuse? (b)Which cultural traditions affect the opioid treatment(s)? The level two research questions answered by this study are: (a) why should prisons treat incarcerated inmates? (b) Why is it that California has a higher incarceration budget than that of education? In an attempt to respond to the above research questions, this study reveals the urgency of opting to alternative sentencing or introduction of serious treatment programs in prisons.
First Level one question: What are statistical facts about opioids?
According to the report from Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), 948,000 people used heroin in 2016 alone, 3.6% of whom were adolescents. DEA found that at least 1.8% of Americans have used heroin in their lifetime (2016) and that most of the affected groups are arrested for committing crimes such as robbery with violence, theft, and drug trafficking to raise money for the continued use of opioids. DEA also found from a survey that 11.8 million Americans had abused heroin in 2015. Data from Drug War Facts show that forty-seven percent (81,900) of federal prisoners in the United States in 2016 were serving sentences for drug-related crimes. From this number, 6,300 were women and 75, 600 were men (Drug War Facts, 2018). In 2015, out of 870,500 individuals on parole had a drug offense and they had served a sentence in the past. Furthermore, 10.7% of inmates on parole had abused pain relievers in the past month before they were arrested for the crime. The number of inmates is increasing every year and the prisons are being filled by opioid addicts. According to Williams (2017), out of a total of 5,100 state prisons and jails, less than thirty offer inmates with treatment for recovery and those that are treated only get it when they are about to be released. Imprisonment only creates withdrawal from the drug and when released, the individuals relapse to drugs and some of them may die of an overdose or commit a crime again and go back to prison.
According to Vashishtha, Mittal, and Werb (2017) the United States, more than 2.4 million people meet the criteria for severe opioid use disorder. This excludes those that are already serving a jail sentence for opioid-related crimes. According to SAMHSA (2014), the incarceration budget for the State of California is estimated to be up by 359 million in the financial year 2017-2018. This indicates that a bigger portion of the state

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