Pubdate: Sat, 05 Jun 2004
Source: Greenville News (SC)
Copyright: 2004 The Greenville News
Author: Emilie Dooley


While reading the article concerning the "sweat patch" drug testing device 
used by the Greenville solicitor's Drug Court, I was appalled by Bob 
Ariail's ignorant attitude toward the disease of addiction.

In regards to the participants in the Drug Court program he states: "These 
people are criminals first and drug addicts second." It is obvious that Mr. 
Ariail has never had personal experience with an addict/alcoholic - only 
professional prosecution.

Granted, these individuals have pled guilty to various drug-related charges 
and are criminals under the literal definition, but it is the affliction of 
a disease (recognized by the American Medical Association as chronic, 
progressive and, unless treated, terminal) that has driven these behaviors 
in the first place.

No, they are not criminals first - they are addicts! Individuals who suffer 
from active addiction base every waking moment and every decision in, on or 
around their sickness. Criminal activity is a secondary symptom of this.

I am not excusing any addict or drug dealer (which is an addictive 
lifestyle, as well) from their culpability under the law - not at all. Many 
heinous crimes have occurred in our country revolving around drugs and 
alcohol. And although a person makes a conscious choice to pick up that 
very first drink or drug, they do not choose to become an addict.

But these people are responsible for seeking help for their addiction. Drug 
Court may be the only chance for recovery that some folks have - but not if 
they are treated as criminals first, and drug addicts second.

Emilie Dooley
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