We need a better approach.
We need to stop doubling down on a broken system, and invest in permanent access to treatment and recovery services.
We need to address the root causes of substance use disorders with programs and services that actually work and are more cost effective than jail.
The estimated cost of substance use disorders to Washington state is at least $6 billion per year, including direct and indirect public costs related to crime, health, and productivity. Substance use disorder treatment is more effective and costs much less than punishment. Research shows that every dollar spent on substance use disorder treatment saves $4 in health care costs and $7 in criminal justice costs.
Instead of prosecution and incarceration, we must provide people with substance use disorders with greater access to treatment and recovery services such as 24/7 triage centers for people in crisis, case management, mental and physical health care, housing, and job training.