Narcotics Addiction: Punishment or Treatment

July 18, 1962

Report Outline
Review of Approaches to Drug Problem
Treatment Methods and New Proposals
Search for Effective Cure of Addiction

Review of Approaches to Drug Problem

By striking down a California statute which made drug addiction itself—as distinct from sale or possession of narcotic drugs—a crime punishable by imprisonment, the Supreme Court on June 25 gave indirect support to pleas for wider recognition of the fact that victims of the drug habit are physically and in most cases mentally ill. For decades there has been a tug of war between persons who emphasize the medical approach to the drug-problem and those who stress the criminal approach and the harsh mandatory penalties now imposed on all violators of the narcotics laws. Actually, both approaches have been used in recent years. Yet the problem remains unsolved. A White House conference on the question, to be held late this summer, is expected to explore new ways of combining the two prongs of the attack in the hope of producing more effective results.

Support is growing for procedures that will make sharper distinction between the hardened profiteer in the illicit drug market and the drug user. The former is one of the most despised of criminal offenders; all agree that he deserves severe punishment. The addict, on the other hand, awakens sympathy among thoughtful people; they think he should be helped to break a vicious habit. But difficulty arises when the same individual is both drug user and drug seller.

Impending White House Narcotics Conference

Calling of the White House Conference appears to be a step toward reconsideration of national policy on drug addiction. President Kennedy said on May 29 that the conference would seek to bring out the true facts about addiction and recommend the courses of action best calculated to curb it. He defined the chief problem areas as (1) law enforcement, (2) treatment of addicts, and (3) assessment of the nature and extent of addiction.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Drug Abuse and Trafficking
Jun. 29, 2017  Drug Abuse
Oct. 07, 2016  Opioid Crisis
Jul. 19, 2016  Drug Abuse
May 02, 2014  Treating Addiction
Jun. 03, 2011  Teen Drug Use
Jun. 12, 2009  Legalizing Marijuana Updated
Dec. 12, 2008  Mexico's Drug War
Feb. 09, 2007  Combating Addiction
Jun. 02, 2006  War on Drugs
Jul. 15, 2005  Methamphetamine
Jul. 28, 2000  Drug-Policy Debate
Nov. 20, 1998  Drug Testing
Jan. 06, 1995  Treating Addiction
Mar. 19, 1993  War on Drugs
Feb. 23, 1990  Does the War on Drugs Need a New Strategy?
May 20, 1988  The Business of Illicit Drugs
Jan. 23, 1987  Experimental Drugs
Feb. 08, 1985  The Fight Against Drug Smuggling
Aug. 27, 1982  Cocaine: Drug of the Eighties
Jun. 11, 1982  Prescription-Drug Abuse
Jan. 23, 1976  Changing U.S. Drug Policy
Dec. 13, 1972  World Drug Traffic
May 27, 1970  Heroin Addiction
Jan. 27, 1965  Psychotoxic Drugs
Jul. 18, 1962  Narcotics Addiction: Punishment or Treatment
Sep. 05, 1956  Control of Drug Addiction
Mar. 28, 1951  Drug Addiction
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Drug Abuse
Sentencing and Corrections
Substance Abuse