Arizona, like many other areas in the United States, has a problem with illegal drug use and criminals who consistently get convicted of drug-related crimes. Unfortunately, criminals continue to get in trouble for using opioids because they become addicted and don’t know how to handle the problem. As a result, the criminal justice system is saturated and the jails can’t handle the convictions coming in.

One solution to the drug problem in Arizona is to fight the issue at its core. To reduce the number of criminal drug convictions, the state must combat opioid addiction. Naltrexone is a drug used to treat opioid addiction, and if rehab centers and jails universally adopt this drug in their treatment programs, the opioid epidemic could be put to a halt.

How Naltrexone Works

Naltrexone is a monthly injectable, which makes it convenient for patients. After an opioid addicted patient abstains from opioid used for 10-14 days, the patient can receive their first injection of low-dose naltrexone. The naltrexone binds to an opioid receptor in the brain and blocks the superimposed opiate.

Because of this 30-day dose injectable, a patient will feel no effect if they use opioids during their treatment. 

Having Empathy for Criminals

Many people may not want to give inmates convicted of illegal drug use the naltrexone treatment because they don’t think they deserve help. However, it’s important for the public to have empathy for these suffering individuals and understand how awful addiction can be. If we have a potential cure for opioid addiction, we should do our best to use it on anyone willing to try it out.

Although naltrexone won’t necessarily stop criminals from taking opioids when they’re no longer in treatment, it can give them the chance to get out of the cycle of addiction, which is often the hardest part. If they can take naltrexone and experience the lack of side effects from opioids, they may regain an understanding of life’s value outside of jail and outside of the illegal drug market. 

As a grad student in criminology, my research on the criminal drug problem in Arizona has been fascinating. I know it’ll take a lot of time, money, and effort for the country to combat the illegal drug issue once and for all, but if we work together, I know we can help fight addiction and clear out our jails and prisons.

Angie Edwards

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