Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Most Ky. adults support court-mandated treatment for first or second drug offenses; all but five counties have drug courts

Most Kentucky adults favor court-mandated treatment programs for people convicted of a first or second drug offense, programs that can be ordered in place of or in addition to incarceration, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll.

The poll, taken Oct. 24 to Dec. 2, found that 82 percent of Kentucky adults favored court-mandated treatment for first or second drug offenses, while 15 percent opposed such a mandate.

Support for mandating treatment increased with education, with 90 percent of college graduates, 84 percent with "some college," 82 percent of high-school graduates and 72 percent of the rest in support of the mandate.

The poll also found that support for such a mandate was strong across party lines, with 85 percent of Democrats, 84 percent of independents and 80 percent of Republicans supporting mandatory treatment programs.

It was also high among Kentucky adults who believe that addiction is a disease, 86 percent, compared to those who do not believe addiction is a disease, 76 percent.

"We can't arrest our way out of Kentucky's substance-use epidemic," Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, which co-sponsors the poll, said in a news release.

Chandler added that because addiction is a brain disease that often leads to illegal behavior, it's important to treat the underlying condition. Otherwise, he said, "We never actually solve the problem."

Mandatory treatment for drug offenders can be ordered by a "drug court," which the release says are used in every Kentucky county except Logan, Todd, Carroll, Grant and Owen.

The poll report notes that successful completion of any type of treatment program is more effective than jail time alone in reducing the burdens of addiction.

"In fact, research shows that patients who successfully complete treatment have a lower risk of being arrested on drug-related charges again than those who were sentenced only to jail time," says the release.

This is the first time the Kentucky Health Issues Poll has asked this question. The survey was funded by the foundation and Interact for Health, a Cincinnati-area foundation. It surveyed a random sample of 1,692 Kentucky adults via landlines and cell phones. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.

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