Medicine: Drugs for Addicts?

U.S. law says that it is a crime to possess narcotics, and by jailing many of the 20,000 addicts arrested in the U.S. each year, it brands them as criminals. But most doctors and lawyers believe that drug addiction is not primarily a matter of wilful lawbreaking, agree that most cases result rather from some form of emotional disturbance, which is a medical condition. In a new book, Drug Addiction: Crime or Disease? (Indiana University; $5), a joint committee of the American Bar Association and the American Medical Association suggests that the law, no less than the addict, may need overhauling.

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