Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan are just a few of the artists and actors who have suffered from drug addiction problems. However, hundreds of thousands of others also suffer from these problems. Sadly, our society has chosen to criminalize their problems, rather than treat them as a medical condition. These individuals should be considered drug addicts, rather than criminals. Drug addiction is often the result of a genetic tendency, as well as chemical changes in the body that occur with the use of drugs. Diabetes is also the result of these same conditions. Yet, those with diabetes are not arrested for buying sugar.
Labelling theory was important in determining how people with addictions are viewed. Labelling theory questions why some individuals are considered deviant for acts, while others are not. Alcohol use is not a criminal offense (if age appropriate), while drug use is. This is merely the result of how it is labeled (Lilly, Cullen, & Ball, 2015, p. 164). Labelling theory allows the media and the public to view them as criminals, rather than as individuals with addictions. Fortunately, this attitude appears to be changing, as drugs are becoming legal in some states.
Social process theory also applies to these individuals. It believes that how people develop criminal behavior depends upon the social interactions that the people have in life. In this way, the drug addicts are the same as everyone. However, their associations allowed them to enter into drug use (Huck & Morris, 2014).
Both the medical community and drug supplies help lead individuals with addiction to a criminal element. Sadly, the medical world often is the cause of individuals becoming addicted to pain meds. This is the result of a lack of ability to cure pain; it is merely hidden. When the person becomes addicted to pain meds, the medical community often stops giving the drugs because the person is “drug seeking.” Once they are cut off, the person obtains the drugs illegally. The drug suppliers then expose the person to a variety of criminal elements, such as drug production and stealing to pay for the medications (Web MD, 2015).