Rehabs in NJ have a hurdle to overcome. There’s an ‘intuitiveness’ to the idea that if someone commits an illegal act or does something undesirable within a civilized society, that punishment is the way to correct the behavior overall. Parents use this technique often, whether it’s used to get the child’s grades out of the range of failure or to ‘fix’ a problem with their behaviors at school. Punishment is a negative reinforcement technique that simultaneously enforces an authoritative hierarchy and ties negative behavior to negative outcomes. Addiction treatment in NJ is different.
What is often misunderstood about what seems intuitive is that the outcomes don’t really solve the behavioral part and also foster a disdain for authority. This is true in adults as well as children. A common phrase one might have heard at some point is, “It’s only a crime if you get caught”, plainly stating that even knowing the consequences of the negative action, if there’s a way to avoid the part of the action that incurs personal harm in some way or loss of autonomy, that it doesn’t make the action NOT worth doing.
One of the aspects to addiction that hasn’t worked and continues to not work negative reinforcement via legal punishment and public shaming of addicts. Over the course of nearly fifty years, the War On Drugs has taken this approach, encouraging a societal norm that continues to this day: addiction is a bad thing that people choose to do because they lack the moral fortitude to make good decisions and therefore must be punished to correct the action, usually be putting the person in prison and staining their permanent record and making life harder in the future for them, even if they do serve their time.
However, even police are beginning to intuitively find in their day-to-day operations that not only is this counter-productive to solving the problem of ever-increasing overdoses and drug use, but it also chokes resources for investigations and crime prevention as a whole. Even as early the mid 80’s in south Florida during the cocaine epidemic, this became clear, but for some reason, most of the public still holds false ideas that a.) All drug addictions are the fault/choice of the user and is evidence of their lack of morality (however one wishes to define ‘morality’ itself is of no concern) and b.) the way to ‘fix’ a person with a lack of morals as exhibited by their drug use is to put them in a cage for a period of time.
As with children being incentivized with positives reinforcement to to maintain good behavior, the same can and should be applied to those with substance use disorders. Instead of threatening an addict with social pressure and prison, it might be high time to encourage them to find a way out of the prison of addiction itself by finding treatment.