Addiction is a disease and should only be a health issue and not a criminal issue.
Hello and welcome! Is addiction better handled with health care intervention or with criminal and judicial punishment? This is our issue and the focus of this debate.
The structure of the debate is meant to be somewhat concise. So, there's a 4,000 character limit. It's my intention to strike a balance so we have enough room for debate, but the debates don't ramble on and waste time. There will be 5 rounds. Here's the breakdown of the rounds:
I, the instigator, will take the Pro position. I'll argue that addiction is a disease, and should only be a health issue and not a criminal issue. Whomever accepts this debate challenge will take the Con position and argue that addiction should only be a criminal issue.
(In this round Pro and Con will give opening statements.)
Thank you, internet stranger, for taking the time and effort to read my opening statement.
As Pro, I’ll argue that the best solution to addiction is to treat it as a health issue because addiction is a disease. I’ll also argue that addressing addiction as a criminal issue is a poor and inferior solution. All my sources will be cited and listed at the end of my argument and enumerated in-line for easy reading and easy reference.
I’ll prove three things in this debate:
As Con, I'll argue against our loose use of the title disease in the 21st century. Ill also argue how addressing it as a criminal issue nets less afflicted individuals. Ill relate how the act of removing individuals who act on a risk factor is an effective practice towards removing the risk factor altogether.
Ill prove in this argument that:
(1) Although diseases can be predicted by risk factors, that those risk factors are (in the instance of drug addictions) based almost entirely on social, educational, and economic factors vs. medical ones.
(2) Ill present the arguement that treating disease in a legal manner is in many ways the same as treating outliers and cancerous cells within the body in a medical manner by comparing the benefits of total removal to comparatively a malign tumor of society.
(3) Ill prove that with proper punishment the chance for recidivism is none.
I'll have you note the senses of pity, compassion, contempt, anger, fear and sadness you fell when you look upon the face of an addict as being poison's to the rational mind. It's obvious that these feelings come about as emotions and spur of the moment feeling that cause us to take up incomplete methods of solving the issue. I believe we need to move closer to this place that makes us so uncomfortable, open our eyes, and begin to make the change we want to see in the world versus accepting and harboring the cancer that holds us back. We need to make people own up to their depravity, stop treating them as sick people, and start treating them like defects that need to be taken care of.
Our nation wastes trillions of dollars towards medical treatments of cronic diseases alone. Add those preventables to the Pro's list of illegitamate diseases and we are just adding to a growing problem. A problem that has a>60% projected increase from 2010-2020 by the CDC.
Please consider my arguments in this debate with an open and critical mind. I know how radical they may feel to the subverted mind, but try to think out of the box a bit and I think youll find capital punishment to be the best form for reducing degenerate portions of our society.
The above numbers and statement was derived from a feature I found on the CDC website to calculate the cost of chronic diseases to individuals, companies, and government. http://www.cdc.gov...; It certainly seems like a waste of time and funds when there are much higher callings in the world that could be recieveing the attention, and by a better humanity at that.
(First off, please allow me to fix a mistake in the rules. BOTH Pro and Con will give chief arguments this round. Then BOTH Pro and Con will give rebuttals next round. Sorry for the confusion!)
The line we draw between what's disease and what's criminal behavior has shifted throughout history. What moves that line? The two key factors are fear and ignorance.
When we fear the ravages of a disease, and we're ignorant of its causes and qualities, we are likely to condemn the sufferers of that disease. "In the England of the Middle Ages, Christianity, with its roots in the biblical Old Testament, saw disease as the worldly manifestation of sin. Ill-health represented "badness" and at least part of the explanation for the bubonic plague that visited England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was provided by a belief that God was punishing sin [...] If illness and disease were sin, then "health" was good and consequently an essential moral value."  I argue we punish addicts because we're afraid and we're ignorant of addiction.
So what changed about the bubonic plague and other contagious diseases? Why did people stop blaming the sick, and start caring for the sick? What happened is we discovered in the 19th century that plagues and contagious disease weren't caused by bad behavior. Robert Koch is the first person to discover the link between bacteria and disease.  "The bacteriological revolution had the effect of "depersonalizing" disease. Under the microscope, disease could no longer possess the same "moral valence" that they had maintained in the past. This offered the possibility of disconnecting disease from its historical associations with sin, moral turpitude, and idleness."  I argue that it's time we disconnect addiction from its historical association with criminality because we now understand addiction.
What about the choice to use drugs and alcohol? Aren't addicts deserving of criminal punishment simply because they make bad choices? I offer evidence from a recent BBC documentary called Russell Brand - Addiction to Recovery and its study that found that 10% of people are addicts and are more vulnerable to drugs and alcohol than other people.  This is our new understanding. It should change our attitude.
Also, addiction is a disease because it has risk factors and is diagnosed with these risk factors. The #1 factor from Mayo Clinic reads: "Drug addiction is more common in some families and likely involves genetic predisposition. If you have a blood relative, such as a parent or sibling, with alcohol or drug problems, you're at greater risk of developing a drug addiction."  See also: Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction. 
Of course, all people can become addicted. But there are people that are especially suseptable to addiction. And that's their unfortunate disease. Just because you aren't vulnerable, please don't assume everyone is like you.
Addiction has effects that are best managed with health care. "While the specific physical and psychological effects of drug abuse and addiction tend to vary based on the particular substance involved, the general effects of abuse or addiction to any drug can be devastating."  Criminal punishment is not medicine.
 Duncan, Peter. "Values and Ethics in Health Care: Historical Perspectives." Values, Ethics and Health Care. 1st ed. Vol. 1. London: SAGE Publications, 2010. 34-36. Print.
 Brandt, Allan M., and Paul Rozin. "Behavior, Disease, and Health in the Twentieth-Century United States." Morality and Health. New York, NY: Routledge, 1997. 56. Print.
 http://youtu.be... (watch for 3.5 min.)
FreedomBeforeEquality forfeited this round.
(In the previous round, Pro and Con were supposed to present arguments in support of their respective positions. This round was for rebuttals. However, I cannot offer rebuttals this round because Con forfeited the last round. So, I will make an additional two points in support of my arguments I made last round. Con may still salvage his position if he wishes by offering his arguments in the next round and his rebuttals. If Con does that, I will use some of my closing argument space to rebut.)
First off, please allow me to fix a link from my previous set of sources. Source  should have been: http://www.medicinenet.com...
I would like to elaborate on a two things. First, please consider the success other countries have when they move away from handling addiction as a criminal issue. Second, please consider the ineffectiveness of addressing addiction as a criminal issue.
The U.S. is already looking to other countries that treat addiction as a health issue.  U.S. leaders see the successes of those countries and want to emulate that in the U.S. But it's difficult because of the attitude in the U.S. that an addict is just a person who's corrupted and needs to "pull themselves up with their bootstraps". For a more specific example, in the case of Cameron Douglas, a team of doctors filed a brief explaining that his addiction was a disease after the court imposed a harsh sentence on him.  Recently, the U.N. addressed the issues:
"No one would imagine that enforcing tough legal sanctions on people with a chronic condition such as heart disease could help address that illness or its causes, or help prevent it in others. Criminal justice is clearly not the way forward in dealing with substance use disorders either; putting people with addictions in prison and perpetuating various legal barriers to seeking or providing substance abuse treatment are only hindrances. Addiction is a medical issue, and the member countries of the United Nations will make progress in addressing it when it becomes the full responsibility of their health care systems." 
All of this points to the benefits that society will achieve when addiction is a health issue and treated like any other disease.
Now as to the ineffectiveness of the penal solution, I present a recent study of eleven countries. "We did not in our fact-finding observe any obvious relationship between the toughness of a country’s enforcement against drug possession, and levels of drug use in that country."  The result of that study was simple: drug laws don't work. Also, criminal prosecution of drug laws are expensive. For every dollar spent on treatment there is a yield of more than seven dollars in social benefits. This is considering a cost to incarcerate an offender that is in the tens of thousands of dollars, compared to the cost of treatment that was only about four thousand dollars. 
The health approach is the best approach. Criminal prosecution is futile in treating a disease and it's a fantasy that prosecution is effective. Health intervention aimed at addiction is in use around the world and it works.
Yes it is expensive to incarcerate. If we find, though, that incarceration is not historically effective for a given crime ... then a different form of punishment needs to be applied. I'm not going to advocate that all people are even worth the effort. Most people being incarcerated are not even worth the money they are draining from the system were they to get out, and certainly not worth the money for medical treatment.
Life sentences, for example, are a total waste of time. Forcing an offender to sit in jail the entirety of their life is supposed to bring some sort of satisfaction to everyone that put them there? Its supposed to re-condition him? For what? The afterlife?
"10% of people are addicts and are more vulnerable to drugs and alcohol than other people."
A vulnerability to being an addict does not make you an addict. It still requires a personal choice to be made. Personal choice is punishable. The subsequent addiction and loss of personal choice may not be ... but it started with a personal choice at some point to use the drug. That is why drug addiction is inherently different from the other diseases you keep referencing.
I think it an error on your part to continue to group them because of the disease title and not the more important and more descriptive title of addiction. Addiction says more about the disease, and a lot about how it was manifested. It is in a different ballpark. I will not waste time countering bubonic plague comparisons because they have no weight here.
Addiction is a behavioral. By countering it medically you may remove the feeling of needing it ... but you do not solve the issue of the person executing unlawful acts of use in the first place. When first it starts, the body has no idea or want for any drug. The introduction of that drug that grows into an addiction is a failure in discipline on the part of the user and also perhaps a failure on the part of the public and of the community (if these people are a product of their surroundings).
Sectioning them off from the public eye removes more than just the disease from the populous ... it removes the views, lifestyles, and temptation that drove this person to try it in the first place from infecting the rest of the community. It also couples a sort of punishment on the society by making an example of the offender ... a further deterrent to the infection of the community as their will to use will be countered by the knowledge that they will have to pay for their crimes.
To your point about some people being susceptible and other not so much, I say to you that everyone's susceptibility is decreased when drug laws are in place. As costly as they may be, they reduce overall use by a substantial amount because the majority of people are not as susceptible, do not carry addiction the same, and do not prioritize drug use over their lives. Your solution seems to target 1 person (the addict) and completely disregards the rest of the community he'll be released to.
To your statement about international effectiveness: http://www.whichcountry.co...
The US is farther below countries that treat it medically on the list of per capita usage. The rest of the population is getting the picture from legal enforcement. France - <2x the per capita usage of pills by the population than in the US. Im certain this is one of the countries you think we should be modeling? And I thought it even more ironic that it was prescription pills being the drug most prevalently abused. I wonder if there isn't some correlation there with the fact that they treat everything from a medical standpoint.
Basically I think we need to gravitate away from this idea that we want to imprison people with heart disease ... because of course that is ridiculous. Look at addiction specifically and see how it is different from other diseases. It manifests itself differently than a virus.
(I’ll begin with rebuttals. And then I’ll present my closing argument.)
Rebuttal 1: Con said, “Most people being incarcerated are not even worth the money they are draining from the system were they to get out, and certainly not worth the money for medical treatment.”
What a cold statement. Con basically asks: What makes a person worthy of medical treatment? What a terrible calculation! Con asks us to accept it. I will not accept it. And neither should you. How would we decide who is worthy? Would we measure a person’s wealth? Would we consider their gender or race? Con’s argument is shortsighted.
I rebut that basic human compassion would motivate treatment of the sick just because they’re suffering and we have the power to do something about it. When a person is in the grip of an addiction, it’s like they're drowning. A drowning man cannot save himself. You don’t ask a sick person if they are “worth it” to save their life. You just do it because it’s the right thing to do. And every single person is important to a society that bases its worth on the advancement of individual liberty. Remember, it’s “individual” liberty, not “collective” liberty. You save someone from illness because you know that the life of even one single person has tremendous inherent value. As the old saying goes, “Save one life, and save the whole world.”
Rebuttal 2: Con said, “A vulnerability to being an addict does not make you an addict. It still requires a personal choice to be made. Personal choice is punishable. The subsequent addiction and loss of personal choice may not be ... but it started with a personal choice at some point to use the drug. That is why drug addiction is inherently different from the other diseases you keep referencing.”
If we are going to punish people for personal choice, then all people should be punished equally. This is only fair. You can’t punish one person for taking their first drink of alcohol and then they become addicted, and not punish another person for taking their first drink of alcohol and they remain sober. Especially since we now understand that addiction is caused by a vulnerability that’s beyond control. Both addict and sober person made the same personal choice, and if you’re going to punish people for that choice then they BOTH need to be punished in a way that fits their crime. Con singles out addicts because they are an easy target. They are so-called “bad people”. But they’re not. They’re our family and friends. We can’t hold some people to a high standard if we ourselves are not willing to live by that standard also.
1) A person with an addictive tendency towards alcohol has a drink (we do not punish that person, nor would we punish a non-addict leaning one). The same person has many drinks and becomes addicted over time. He begins to neglect his family and goes to the bar every night instead of coming home (we don't send that person to jail, nor would we put to jail a non-addict who did the same). That person gets behind the wheel of a vehicle and is caught just before or after killing someone from behind the wheel (the now criminal offender gets punished as equally as a non addict behind the wheel intoxicated).
2) A person with an addictive leaning tendency towards meth does meth in the privacy of his abode (if caught he would be equally as in trouble for his offense as a non addictive leaning person would be). That person decides to go out in public and gets in a verbal confrontation leading into them assaulting a person (addict or no ... they both would be punished equally if found to be under the influence of the drug).
Fact is these people you're victimizing are not being punished for their addiction in any way by the state. Their punishment for the addiction comes in the form of natural consequences, but no one is going out of their way to punish for those. The actual crimes being committed under the influence, however, are what's being punished. And part of the reason we MUST punish addicts for those crimes in similar manner is because of the very reason you mentioned above! Fairness to non-addicts. Someone performing the same exact crime as a non-addict should not be punished any more harshly than an addicted person. I simply cannot stress that enough.
They may not be bad people because of their "disease". They become bad people by in light of that disease, usually revealed to them after their first offense, becoming repeat offenders of criminal activity. What I suggest isn't too harsh though. If a repeat offender does not feel the graveness of their offense in their first punishment, I only advocate that that punishment be ramped up. It should also be done in an equal manner to which you would punish a non-addict for the same crime.
I don't believe we should be giving anyone a free ticket from their transgressions because they have a genetic flaw. The damages they cause are equally as devastating to a community. Their tendency to be repeat offenders, in fact, makes them almost more of a risk to society. In the most extreme left leaning sense, if you could predict a persons risk to society in the manner you claim is possible (by knowing that they are genetically predispositioned to be addicted and commit criminal acts) why would you not try to eliminate those people and genes from infecting the population? Giving them a chance through the prison system to remediate is actually quite the humane approach.
I don't think "we're really scared of is the pain and suffering we see in a helpless addict", but rather scared of the pain and suffering they are capable of inflicting on us. I don't think its at all unreasonable to be guarded around a person who is a known addict and repeat offender of a potentially deadly crime. There is nothing unreasonable about holding on to the idea that they could potentially fall again. In fact it's only logical to do so.
In closing, addicts can have their medical help if they commit themselves and show a commitment to breaking their habit. None of their circumstance, however, should protect them from fair and equal justice for their crimes. None of it should be the burden of the state. Being an addict does not automatically make you comparable to a person with heart disease or cancer or any of the other forms of disease Pro tried to tie in. The difference lies in the addicts personal choices.
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