File Copyright Online - File mutual Divorce in Delhi - Online Legal Advice - Lawyers in India

Rehabilitation over Incarceration: Imperative for Drug Addicts

On interviewing this guy, I realized that it was his sixth prison number, meaning he has been incarcerated six times. He said that I just canít seem to kick this addiction of crystal meth. On enquiry he opened up that he has never been on any psych meds, never been to a psych hospital and never received any mental health treatment for the same.Ē

This interview was conducted by Shavonda Johnson, a social worker and a therapist for the mental health department in one of the prisons in Ohio[1]. This is the perfect depiction of the living conditions that the people who are addicted to any illegal substances are forced into. These people who have done no harm to anybody but themselves, yet they are forced to spend their life in the small cubicle alongside all sorts of criminals that may have been charged for murder, rape or any other heinous crime and are also required to eat food which they obviously do not like.

The question that arise here is how is one expected to overcome his/her addiction by simply restricting themselves from the substance of addiction by putting them with violent lawbreakers. What is being missed here is the definite connection between mental illness and the use of addictive substance[2], which needs to be addressed with due care rehabilitation centres.

The government is undoubtedly overlooking the mental health aspect, necessary for the treatment when they mention that the penalty for the smallest amount of misuse with any form of illegal drug is simply imprisonment which may extend to one year, or fine extending up to ten thousand or both under section 15 of the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Act, 1985[3].

The aim of this paper is to throw light on the unsatisfactory and inadequate current laws of the country for taking care of drug addicts, with respect to other countries and how it can be improved with reformed laws and directing them to rehabilitation centres instead of prisons. For the same purpose, this paper has been divided into four parts, where the first part deals with the current situation of drug addicts in the country, the second part will cover what is the problem, then third part will be suggesting the necessary reforms that could be applied and then last but not the least, the conclusion will cease the discussion with the altered laws that is deduced to be the necessary in the country in accordance with the discussion talked about throughout this paper.

Now as mentioned earlier, Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substance (NDPS) Act of 1985 lays down imprisonment or fine or both depending upon the degree of illegal substance consumed by a person. To break this further down, in order to reduce the consumption of illegal drugs in the country by individuals, the government has made laws to imprison those individuals with other criminals for the reason that they have done such heinous crime, not affecting the society in any way, but to themselves personally. But if hurting yourself in such a manner is a crime then all addictions such as addiction to plastic surgery, addiction to sex or even excessive food eating addiction can very well also be held responsible for a person causing damage themselves just like drugs do. But of course, not every addiction can be imprisoned because then how will the society operate.

Although if we read the NDPS Act in a more detailed manner, it is revealed that under Section 39 and 64A drug addicts have the distinction to be not imprisoned and sent to de-addiction centres but only when found with small quantity of illegal substance. Now there are two inconvenience with these laws, first is that why people found with small quantity of narcotics substance solely be allowed the necessary treatment while people possessing larger quantities may require even more urgent treatment. Secondly the alternative to be sent to rehabilitation centres lies with the judicial system only, which in my opinion have a negative impact by drawing a distinction between one drug addict and another.

In other words, judicial activism comes to the picture. Besides this, in a state like Punjab which is one of the first names that comes to our mind when thought about drug addiction, due to it being one of the largest opium consuming state in the country[4] has shown stats depicting flaws in the implementation of laws by the judiciary. According to a report on the working of the NDPS Act (1985) in Punjab, individuals who should have ideally received the benefit of probation or de-addiction have been directed to the criminal justice system, without being offered long-term solutions for addiction.

The findings illustrate that till date, there has been no individual directed by the Special Courts to de-addiction centres[5]. Due to these current ambiguous situations in the society, shortcomings in laws needs to be carefully looked upon and then accordingly amended.

Moreover, if we narrow down the illegality aspect of drugs - drugs affect your body's central nervous system, they affect how you think, feel and behave[6]. But this is the same impact made during alcohol consumption in our body and that is, except for few parts like Gujarat, not at all prohibited in the country. This distinction is quite absurd to follow as in the case of Durand Didier v. Chief Secretary, Union Territory of Goa[7], the judge addressed drugs to have deadly impact on the society and hence minimum imprisonment is necessary and that it may influence other people to consume it, especially the students. But as discussed earlier, drugs and alcohol more or less affect your body in a similar manner (not in terms of same level impact but in terms of its effect on the body parts). Therefore, alcohol can very equally also be responsible for having a fatal impact on the society and could as well influence the students of the community.

According to American Psychiatric Association, addiction is a form of brain disease[8], which could be due to consumption of substances like alcohol or drugs. But then why a person having a disease compelled to be incarcerated in a most likely hostile environment is something we need to start thinking upon in order to analyse the problem. A common understanding by any person would suggest a proper hospital treatment is the best solution for a person suffering from a disease, in this case a brain disease which predominantly would require even more special care. This is the very reason for the existence of institutions known as rehabilitation centres, in order to take a special treatment under qualified doctors for that very purpose. But the laws made by the government to imprison instead of sending the people with such brain disease to proper rehabilitation centres is surely a mind puzzler.

The data provided by National Crime Record Bureau reveals that at least 25,426 people committed suicide due to drug and addiction-related problems within a span of 10 years (2004 Ė 2013) across India[9]. Now this can only suggest two things, either the government had been inefficient in getting hold of drug abusers in India due to which such high number of suicides have been committed, or the system of imprisonment which the government has currently adopted turned out to be incapable of reforming citizens of the country.

Well since the numbers are so significantly large, I give benefit of the doubt to the government and back them for not being immensely inefficient. So that clearly leaves only one possibility into the spotlight, due to this mechanism of imprisonment there is suicidal tendency among prisoners, alongside the severe withdrawal symptoms[10]. Not only attempts to self-harm but according to a report released by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), out of 14,831 homicides that were committed during the year of 2007 (in US where even soft drugs are illegal as well), approximately 580 were just narcotics related[11].

This data clearly highlights the frightful outcomes due to the current incarceration method in addition to the significant financial burden that has to be borne in order to imprison a drug addict, in comparison to rehabilitate them[12]. Such data has what compelled Dr Kumar, director of Banyan and Balm Ngo mention that reforming and rehabilitating drug abusers among the prisoners will bring down crimes as there is a correlation between drug abuse and crime[13].

Also, if the provided data on crime rate is not alarming enough, the other discrimination borne by drug addicts due to imprisonment is definitely disturbing. For example, the very famous and recent case of Sushant Singh Rajputís death leading to arrest of Rhea Chakraborty under NDPS act is quite intriguing. On 14 June 2020, Sushantís death was reported and on September 9, 2020, Rhea Chakraborty was arrested for an issue which was not even the main consideration during the investigation. The NCB (has) charged Rhea under the stringent Section 27-A of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act that pertains to "financing and harbouring illegal drug trafficking".

It entails imprisonment up to 10 years in prison and a bar on the grant of bail[14]. While case was first filled under the charge of abetment of suicide under section 306 of the Indian Penal Code, she ended being imprisoned for the possession of illegal substances. But if she was under the impression of dealing in drugs, then she being sentenced to imprisonment and not treatment under rehabilitation centre is shocking in itself. Instead she was given harsh prison sentence for up to 10 years but later provided with bail after 28 days.

But this is still better than a previous case of Union of India v. Ram Samujh and Another (1999)[15], where in the judge declared the accused who was under imprisonment in regards to the offence under Narcotics Substances, not to be allowed bail on the basis that it will have a bad impact on the society. In a country where people committing various heinous crimes are given bail, the bail has been denied for a person who has been charged under NDPS Act. When a person who is imprisoned instead of rehabilitated for the treatment of his/her disease and then even denied bail is, in my opinion, just violation of the powers of the judicial system.

All things said, I believe one of the major differences for which rehabilitation of drug addicts is a big change - the focus on mental health of the person. This alone should be sufficient enough make the necessary amendment in the current jarring policy of imprisonment, where the mental health of a person is definitely ignored. If youíre the kind of person who needs to take a walk when youíre feeling stressed, you cannot do that [while incarcerated]. If youíre anxious around other people who are loud or fighting, you cannot avoid that. The environment is not therapeutic[16].

In fact, the negative consequences of incarceration are even extended to sufferings borne by people on the basis of colour. Members of Black and Latinx communities are more likely to be incarcerated for drugs, and one in nine Black children has an incarcerated parent, as opposed to one out of every 57 white children. One study conducted in New York City found that Black men with criminal backgrounds faced harsher employment discrimination than white men with similar convictions. One out of every 13 Black Americans will lose voting rights in their lifetime due to felony disenfranchisement[17].

The drugs being declared illegal is a bit strange to me in the first place. When a drug is nothing but any chemical compound that may be used on or administered to humans to help diagnose, treat, cure, mitigate, or prevent disease or other abnormal conditions[18]. So, if drugs are anyways consumed by humans in the name of medication for any disease, it comes to me a bit odd to prohibit its personal use in the first place and then punishing the oneís prohibiting this law by imprisoning them. In addition to that, as discussed previously if the negligent use by the public is feared by the government, then how is alcohol declared legal, having a very similar effect on brain and oneís body. Therefore, the illegality of all drugs in the country succeeded by incarceration if violated instead of allowing them proper treatment under rehabilitation centres is quite bizarre to understand.

Now to draw a comparison, the condition of the Portugal was so bad that by 80s, one in 10 people had slipped into the depths of heroin use Ė bankers, university students, carpenters, socialites, miners Ė Portugal was in a state of panic[19]. It was then in 2001 that Portugal became the first country to decriminalise the possession and consumption of all illicit substances.

Rather than being arrested, those caught with a personal supply might be given a warning, a small fine, or told to appear before a local commission Ė a doctor, a lawyer and a social worker Ė about treatment, harm reduction, and the support services that were available to them[20]. The result that was seen after taking such a bold step was remarkable. Some of the main highlights of such a big policy change in Portugal were - decreased use of heroin, increased uptake of treatment and reduction in drug related deaths[21], according to the Beckley Foundation Drug Programme, an international independent drug policy review programme.

This courageous step has also been taken by few other countries, for example - Switzerlandís innovative policy of providing drug addicts with free methadone and clean needles greatly reduced deaths while cutting crime rates and should serve as a global model[22], said by health experts. The reason for such a positive response of this change in law is due to the fact that people do not fear the unreasonableness of the judicial system. Earlier the harshness of punishment that was given to drug addicts were so threatening that people feared opening about this addiction to the society. In contrary, in the absence of such fear people are actually able to open up and seek for the necessary treatment in rehabilitation camps without being sent for imprisonment mercilessly. Such is the change that is desired in our country and can only be achieved by making policies which might be unorthodox in nature.

Through the medium of this paper, I have been able to reflect a clear understanding of what drug is, itís illegality in the country, the problems associated with the current rules and regulations and then why rehabilitation is the best solution for the drug addicts. Furthermore, while discussing each aspect of the problem, I have come to this conclusion which I believe needs to be followed in the country in order to reduce violence and maintain stability in the society:
  1. Decriminalise the act of consuming and possessing of certain drugs privately by the public. The reason I say certain drugs is only because I feel that only soft drugs should be legalised in the first place. Soft drugs which may include hash or marijuana are less harmful to an individualís body when taken in more than reasonable (because the reasonability may vary from person to person) quantity. This will have two outcomes, first that now people will be able to consume drugs in a safer environment and with better equipment that will be available due to its legality and secondly since soft drugs are made legal, people will not go hights in order to get hold of and then consume the hard drugs like cocaine, heroin etc. which could have serious harmful effects when not consumed in sensible manner.
     
  2. Any act committed under influence of the legal drugs which is in fact is illegal according to the law, should most certainly be punished. This means any act such as murder or theft that was committed by a person because he/she was influenced due to consuming drugs should be penalised in the same manner as if he/she was under the influence of alcohol according to the current law. This will create a uniformity of punishment for consuming a substance in the society. In addition to that offences like driving a vehicle while being under the influence of drugs should be similarly penalised as well.
     
  3. The most important one, that is to rehabilitate people found with consumption of more than appropriate quantity of drugs or provide a proper treatment if not that serious. Moreover, the government can also impose certain fines if required, similar to what Portugal imposed in 2001. This will help in reducing the prison cost, getting drug addicts actually recovered in comparison to the imprisonment method and also helping people to come up themselves for the required treatment at various rehabilitation centres without the fear of facing harsh imprisonment charges.

Keeping in mind all the aspects of obstacles discussed in this paper with current law of imprisonment, in addition to the awareness that surely needs to be circulated dealing with the harmful effects of consuming such drugs through various means, I believe the need for drug addicts to be pushed for rehabilitation centres is most certainly necessary by the government.

Bibliography
Cases & Statutes
  • Durand Didier v. Chief Secretary, Union Territory of Goa, AIR 1966, 1989 SCR (3)1025 (1989
  • Union of India v. Ram Samujh and Another, (1999) 9 SCC 429
  • Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Act, 1985
Journals And Reports
  • Marie Bussing-Birks, Mental Illness and Substance Abuse (April 2002), https://www.nber.org/digest/apr02/mental-illness-and-substance-abuse#:~:text=There%20is%20a%20definite%20connection,40%20percent%20of%20all%20cigarettes
  • Ministry Of Social Justice And Empowerment, Government Of India & United Nations Office On Drugs And Crime, Regional Office For South Asia, Drug Abuse Monitoring System (Dams): A Profile Of Treatment Seekers, at 10, (2002)
  • Neha Singhal et al., From Addict to Convict: The Working of the NDPS Act (1985) in Punjab (23 August 2018), https://vidhilegalpolicy.in/research/2018-8-23-from-addict-to-convict-the-working-of-the-ndps-act-1985-in-punjab/
  • Better Health, How drugs affect your body (December 2017), https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/HealthyLiving/How-drugs-affect-your-body
  • Ranna Parekh, What is Addiction? (January 2017), https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/addiction/what-is-addiction
  • Pushpita Dey, International Day against Drug Abuse: Is India doing enough to deal with the crisis? (26 June 2016, 9.39 IST) http://www.catchnews.com/social-sector/international-day-against-drug-abuse-is-india-doing-enough-to-deal-with-the-crisis-1466942870.html
  • Shanmughasundaram J, Rehabilitation could break cycle of drug abuse in prison (6 March 2019, 11:40 IST) https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/rehabilitation-could-break-cycle-of-drug-abuse-in-prison/articleshow/68277497.cms
  • Bureau of Justice Statistics, Drug and Crime Facts, https://www.bjs.gov/content/dcf/duc.cfm (last revised 17 November 2020)
  • Delloitte, The cost of prison vs residential treatment for offenders, https://www2.deloitte.com/au/en/pages/economics/articles/cost-prison-vs-residential-treatment-offenders.html (last visited 17 November 2020
  • PTI, Rhea Chakraborty released after 28 days in jail; Sushant's family lawyer seeks fresh forensic probe, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/hindi/bollywood/news/rhea-chakraborty-released-after-28-days-in-jail-sushants-family-lawyer-seeks-fresh-forensic-probe/articleshow/78537768.cms (last updated 7 October 2020)
  • Jonathan Giftos noted If youíre the kind of person who needs to take a walk when youíre feeling stressed, you cannot do that [while incarcerated]. If youíre anxious around other people who are loud or fighting, you canít avoid that. The environment is not therapeutic,Ē Elizabeth Brico, Jail Isnít A Drug Treatment Center. Stop Promoting It As One (23 January 2020) https://talkpoverty.org/2020/01/23/substance-use-jail-dangers/
  • Elizabeth Brico, Jail Isnít A Drug Treatment Center. Stop Promoting It As One (23 January 2020) https://talkpoverty.org/2020/01/23/substance-use-jail-dangers/
  • Pharmacistspharmajournal, Drug definition US FDA Drug approval process (11 November 2010) https://www.pharmacistspharmajournal.org/2010/11/definitions-of-drug-radioactive-drug_11.html
  • Susana Ferreira, Portugalís radical drugs policy is working. Why hasnít the world copied it? (5 December 2020, 06:00 GMT) https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/dec/05/portugals-radical-drugs-policy-is-working-why-hasnt-the-world-copied-it
  • Caitlin Hughes & Alex Stevens, The Effects Of Decriminalization Of Drug Use In Portugal (December 2007) https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/91904.pdf
  • Stephanie Nebehay, Swiss Drug policy should serve as model: experts (25 October 2010) https://in.reuters.com/article/us-swiss-drugs/swiss-drug-policy-should-serve-as-model-experts-idUSTRE69O3VI20101025
Electronic Media
  • Shavonda Johnson, Drugged Up and Locked In: Prison & Substance Abuse | Shavonda Johnson | TEDxKingLincolnBronzeville, YouTube (2 November 2020) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjX5h7-wDfg
End-Note
  1. Shavonda Johnson, Drugged Up and Locked In: Prison & Substance Abuse | Shavonda Johnson | TEDxKingLincolnBronzeville, YouTube (2 November 2020) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjX5h7-wDfg
  2. Marie Bussing-Birks, Mental Illness and Substance Abuse (April 2002), https://www.nber.org/digest/apr02/mental-illness-and-substance-abuse#:~:text=There%20is%20a%20definite%20connection,40%20percent%20of%20all%20cigarettes
  3. Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Act, 1985, ß15
  4. Ministry Of Social Justice And Empowerment, Government Of India & United Nations Office On Drugs And Crime, Regional Office For South Asia, Drug Abuse Monitoring System (Dams): A Profile Of Treatment Seekers, at 10, (2002)
  5. Neha Singhal et al., From Addict to Convict: The Working of the NDPS Act (1985) in Punjab (23 August 2018), https://vidhilegalpolicy.in/research/2018-8-23-from-addict-to-convict-the-working-of-the-ndps-act-1985-in-punjab/
  6. Better Health, How drugs affect your body (December 2017), https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/HealthyLiving/How-drugs-affect-your-body
  7. Durand Didier v. Chief Secretary, Union Territory of Goa, AIR 1966, 1989 SCR (3)1025 (1989) (India)
  8. Ranna Parekh, What is Addiction? (January 2017), https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/addiction/what-is-addiction
  9. Pushpita Dey, International Day against Drug Abuse: Is India doing enough to deal with the crisis? (26 June 2016, 9.39 IST) http://www.catchnews.com/social-sector/international-day-against-drug-abuse-is-india-doing-enough-to-deal-with-the-crisis-1466942870.html
  10. Shanmughasundaram J, Rehabilitation could break cycle of drug abuse in prison (6 March 2019, 11:40 IST) https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/rehabilitation-could-break-cycle-of-drug-abuse-in-prison/articleshow/68277497.cms
  11. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Drug and Crime Facts, https://www.bjs.gov/content/dcf/duc.cfm (last revised 17 November 2020)
  12. Delloitte, The cost of prison vs residential treatment for offenders, https://www2.deloitte.com/au/en/pages/economics/articles/cost-prison-vs-residential-treatment-offenders.html (last visited 17 November 2020)
  13. J, supra note 10
  14. PTI, Rhea Chakraborty released after 28 days in jail; Sushant's family lawyer seeks fresh forensic probe, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/hindi/bollywood/news/rhea-chakraborty-released-after-28-days-in-jail-sushants-family-lawyer-seeks-fresh-forensic-probe/articleshow/78537768.cms (last updated 7 October 2020)
  15. Union of India v. Ram Samujh and Another, (1999) 9 SCC 429 (India)
  16. Jonathan Giftos noted If youíre the kind of person who needs to take a walk when youíre feeling stressed, you cannot do that [while incarcerated]. If youíre anxious around other people who are loud or fighting, you canít avoid that. The environment is not therapeutic,Ē Elizabeth Brico, Jail Isnít A Drug Treatment Center. Stop Promoting It As One (23 January 2020) https://talkpoverty.org/2020/01/23/substance-use-jail-dangers/
  17. Elizabeth Brico, Jail Isnít A Drug Treatment Center. Stop Promoting It As One (23 January 2020) https://talkpoverty.org/2020/01/23/substance-use-jail-dangers/
  18. Pharmacistspharmajournal, Drug definition US FDA Drug approval process (11 November 2010) https://www.pharmacistspharmajournal.org/2010/11/definitions-of-drug-radioactive-drug_11.html
  19. Susana Ferreira, Portugalís radical drugs policy is working. Why hasnít the world copied it? (5 December 2020, 06:00 GMT) https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/dec/05/portugals-radical-drugs-policy-is-working-why-hasnt-the-world-copied-it
  20. Id.
  21. Caitlin Hughes & Alex Stevens, The Effects Of Decriminalization Of Drug Use In Portugal (December 2007) https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/91904.pdf
  22. Stephanie Nebehay, Swiss Drug policy should serve as model: experts (25 October 2010) https://in.reuters.com/article/us-swiss-drugs/swiss-drug-policy-should-serve-as-model-experts-idUSTRE69O3VI20101025

Law Article in India

Ask A Lawyers

You May Like

Legal Question & Answers



Lawyers in India - Search By City

Copyright Filing
Online Copyright Registration


LawArticles

Section 482 CrPc - Quashing Of FIR: Guid...

Titile

The Inherent power under Section 482 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (37th Chapter of th...

Whether Caveat Application is legally pe...

Titile

Whether in a criminal proceeding a Caveat Application is legally permissible to be filed as pro...

How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi

Titile

How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi Mutual Consent Divorce is the Simplest Way to Obtain a D...

Copyright: An important element of Intel...

Titile

The Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) has its own economic value when it puts into any market ...

The Factories Act,1948

Titile

There has been rise of large scale factory/ industry in India in the later half of nineteenth ce...

Law of Writs In Indian Constitution

Titile

Origin of Writ In common law, Writ is a formal written order issued by a body with administrati...

Lawyers Registration
Lawyers Membership - Get Clients Online


File caveat In Supreme Court Instantly