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Doctor: Drug Use Is Not a Moral Problem

If you get arrested on drug possession charges in Nevada, or if you get caught using illegal drugs, the reaction from friends and family members may be predictable: They’re shocked and even angry that you made this decision. They don’t know how you could have put your future in jeopardy like this.

What they don’t know is that you never made that choice. And, in some ways, you’re just as shocked and confused as they are.

A modern view

The problem is that the traditional view of illegal drug use is that someone simply chooses to use those substances, the same way you choose to eat a piece of pizza. If you get arrested, then, people think that you walked right into that arrest yourself. All you had to do was refrain from drug use and you wouldn’t have a problem.

It’s not nearly that simple in reality. A more modern view takes into account the role that addiction plays. You can grow completely dependent on these substances. Actual changes inside your brain drive your choices. It’s all out of your control.

In short, this type of extended drug use is not a moral decision or even a choice at all. It’s out of your hands. Your brain demands that you act a certain way, even when you know the risks, and you have no choice but to go along with those demands.

“A common misperception is that addiction is a choice or moral problem, and all you have to do is stop,” said one doctor, who runs the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “But nothing could be further from the truth. The brain actually changes with addiction, and it takes a good deal of work to get it back to its normal state. The more drugs or alcohol you’ve taken, the more disruptive it is to the brain.”

While his focus is on alcohol, the same idea holds true for substances like heroin, cocaine, meth and many other illegal drugs. In fact, addiction often starts with high-caliber painkillers, which doctors legally prescribe, and then branches out into other substances as tolerance levels rise or as the prescription drugs become harder to obtain than the illegal ones.

Your rights

But regardless of the type of substances you use, addiction is the force behind your actions and your choices. This then begs the question: Would treatment for addiction actually help you move past this, rather than punishment for choices you did not make anyway?

That’s important to ask, and it’s critical for you to know all of the legal defense options you have if you wind up facing charges. You have a right to a fair trial, and you may have options that actually give you what you really need.