Widespread substance abuse, an issue across much of the United States, has lead to a rise in drug-related criminal charges. In Louisiana, the limited resources devoted to treating individuals who struggle with substance use disorder results in overpopulated prisons and limited opportunities to pursue a sober, crime-free lifestyle.
Get the facts about how substance use contributes to criminal charges and potential avenues for help with drug or alcohol addiction.
Links between drug addiction, criminal charges and incarceration rates
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Louisiana had 1,140 reported drug overdose fatalities in 2018, 40% of which involved opioids. That same year, doctors in the state issued 79.4 opioid prescriptions for every 100 residents, compared to 51.4 prescriptions per every 100 U.S. residents.
NIDA also reports that up to 65% of the current U.S. prison population has an active substance use disorder. Individuals who have convictions for drug offenses and associated crimes such as theft represent a disproportionate number of prisoners.
Availability of drug court programs
More than 15,167 individuals completed a drug court intervention program in Louisiana between 1997 and 2018. When an individual needs help with substance use disorder, he or she can potentially qualify for a diversion program in Louisiana. Working with an attorney and the court in this type of setting can allow a person facing serious jail time to turn his or her life around.
Adult drug courts serve individuals facing conviction for a drug-related crime, while DUI court is a specific program for offenders who have multiple charges of driving under the influence. According to the Louisiana Supreme Court, most diversion program graduates (about 93%) avoid further criminal charges for at least three years after graduating.