Millions of people die from overdose every year, and the epidemic of drug overdose and abuse is far from over. Most everyone knows a family member or a friend who is an addict either actively using or in recovery, and almost everyone including the addicts family and friends are affected in some way by addiction. Opiate use disorder, in particular, has highlighted the need to change our perspective on addictive behavior despite the need for these interventions in the past (particularly in the crack cocaine epidemic). Despite the negative consequences and cravings that the addict experiences, this medical condition of withdrawal followed by compulsive behavior to keep using to avoid withdrawal, is a vicious disorder that most addicts are in fact powerless to stop once they are in the throws of addiction. Because of the chronic relapse that happens with opiates, relapse is now generally considered an important part of the recovery process, while medication and cognitive counseling helps manage withdrawal symptoms also helping to alleviate negative thoughts and cravings. "The treatment community recognizes that relapse is a common feature of addiction. Indeed, relapse--a return to addictive behavior--may sometimes be a step (or misstep) on the path to recovery, rather than a failure. It is not uncommon for an individual to alternate between treatment and relapse before completely recovering." Then a prevention model is put in place and treatment professionals work to overcome what is seen as a biopsychosocial disease: " The term biopsychosocial is used to indicate that biological, psychological, and social factors are deeply woven into the development of addiction. These factors must be addressed in order for treatment to succeed (see references)." These sociological risk factors are poverty, extreme trauma, depression, anxiety, a bad environment where drugs are common, and include no access to other treatment plans for pain management or healthcare options. "While they vary widely in scope, organization, and points of intervention, all the treatment drug courts developed in recent years share an underlying premise that drug possession and use is not simply a law enforcement/criminal justice problem but a public health problem with deep roots in society. All of these drug court programs see the court, and specifically the judge, as filling a role that goes beyond that of adjudication." So because of these new understandings about drug abuse, drug courts were installed as a way to act on these real issues in our society and "These programs are based on an understanding that substance abuse is a chronic, progressive, relapsing disorder that can be successfully treated. The success of these programs is built on the fact that the post-arrest period can provide a particularly good opportunity for interventions that will break the drug-crime cycle."
I hope this helps shed some light on the criminality and drug related crime correlations and topics that have come up in recent discussions around substance abuse. Forensic psychologists do play a role in helping defendants receive fair and adequate treatment for this disorder that is epidemically out of control in the court system right now and has been for awhile so much so that the court systems in America are overwhelmed and unable to cover all the drug related cases that bombard the system. I hope this goes to show that drug addiction, and particularly opiate use disorder and other drug disorders, affect a wide range of people and that there are a lot of factors around and involved in this biopsychosocial problem. There are many ways to help educate people and there are clinics that could be installed for people to get naltrexone or suboxone clinics or other interventions such as meetings or spiritual groups and even mindfulness practices that have been proven to help. Unfortunately, the court systems and health systems have a long way to go before these interventions are able to help and there are a lot of issues such as waivers needed for certain treatments etc.