Paradigm Shift in Responding to Drug Users and Addicts: From a Criminal Justice to a Public Health Approach

James F. Anderson, Kelley Reinsmith-Jones, Willie M. Brooks, Jr., Adam H. Langsam


Recently, there has been a paradigm shift in the way Americans have come to view drug users and offenders, particularly those affected by the current opioid epidemic. Unlike crack, this epidemic has led to humanistic and compassionate responses to treating the addiction and processing its users. While once stigmatized, demonized, and punished as criminals, today opioid addicts are treated using the medical model. We argue that the new paradigm has ushered in a public health approach, rather than the traditional criminal justice response that brings negative offender processing with adverse consequences. In the end, we believe that the new approach will be effective in treating and reducing opioid use. However, both criminal justice and public health approaches should be applied.

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International Journal of Social Science Studies   ISSN 2324-8033 (Print)   ISSN 2324-8041 (Online)

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