Criminalization and Transformation

In the midst of our struggles with addiction, sometimes there are events that feel catastrophic at the time but that end up serving as deterrents to our addictions. In other words, they help us to finally stop our destructive patterns and get sober. At the time, we’re often filled with anger and resentment. We want nothing more than to be left alone with our addictive habits and lifestyles, our drugs of choice, and the people who enable us. We resent anything and anyone that tries to come between us and our strong dependence on this drug. Sometimes the final straw, what finally deters us from our addictions and forces us to stop, is the possibility of facing criminal charges.

Getting arrested, facing jail time or fines, watching ourselves be criminalized for our addictions and drug-related offenses can be a huge wake-up call. For many of us, it’s the wake-up call we needed to finally straighten ourselves out and commit to sobriety. We’re afraid of serving time. We’re afraid of the financial hardship of paying costly fines, especially those of us already struggling financially. We’ve grown accustomed to our experiences with addiction being full of turmoil and difficult circumstances, but being criminalized for our addictions is something we were not prepared for. Many of us are given the option of entering a recovery treatment program instead of serving jail time, and while we might have been putting off rehab for years, it is now clearly our preferred option. We might go into treatment reluctantly, feeling as though we were forced into it by an unjust system that criminalizes addiction and addicts. We might be bitter and resentful that we’re being forced into treatment rather than going out of our own free will. When we look back on this time, however, we often see it as a blessing in disguise. The prospect of facing jail time and being criminalized for our addictions was so destabilizing it shook us up, out of our inaction, avoidance and denial, out of our self-destructive and self-hating patterns, out of our complacency and misalignment.

For those of us who face criminalization, this unforeseen challenge can be what brings about the most change in our lives, that brings us to a critical turning point and forces us to make the important choice of sobriety in order to heal, transform and redeem ourselves.

Riverside Recovery is committed to helping you get back the life you love. Our treatment programs include multiple forms of therapy, family workshops and mindfulness-based relapse prevention education. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information.