Beyond health and relationship problems, some drug users find themselves wrapped up in legal problems. While there are many debates over whether prison is the best place for drug abusers (some believe that rehab is a wiser option), the U.S. government still puts away many thousands of men and women each year for drug-related crimes. And it’s not just the “hard drugs” – in 2010, people received mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana crimes more than for any other illegal drug. [Source: drugwarfacts.org]
In the U.S., even the possession of certain drugs “with the intent to distribute” can lead to time in prison. Mandatory minimum sentences are in place for many drug crimes, meaning that a judge is not allowed to have mercy on a first-time offender or consider the circumstances.
In addition, to being jailed for using drugs, some drug abusers commit other types of crimes in order to make money to purchase drugs. In one study, 17-18% of inmates admitted that they committed their crime to obtain drug money.
Or, drug use may cloud judgement enough that the user commits a crime he or she may not have committed sober. In 1997, 49.7% of convicted inmates were using either drugs or alcohol at the time of their offense [Source: urbanministry.org].
Once released from prison, former convicts can face trouble finding housing and jobs.