This concluding chapter evaluates alternatives to drug courts and the criminalization of drugs and drug users that entail neither punitive oversight nor coercion. It highlights the contradictions in the existing drug policy, where some people are punished for using mind-altering substances while others are encouraged to use them via prescription pharmaceuticals. It also challenges four major assumptions that guide our views on drug use: that habitual substance use is a disease, that abstinence is the only cure for the disease of addiction, that abstinence from drugs can be achieved only through treatment, and that coerced treatment is better than voluntary treatment for certain addicts. The chapter argues that combining punishment and treatment will never work to eradicate habitual substance use. Instead, it calls for a radical reorientation in the way we understand drugs, drug users, the value of sobriety, and the role of the state in coercing health.
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