An addiction hinders your ability to stop taking drugs even if you want to. The withdrawal is severe and potentially life-threatening, depending on the drug you use. People who are addicted to drugs don't need to be in prison. They need to be where they can get the help they need to recover from an addiction and dependency outside their control.
When addicted to mind-altering substances, it's easy to make mistakes that end up violating laws. Breaking the law leads to further trouble with the law, but with some support, could end up leading to treatment.
What kinds of laws do people break while using drugs?
One common thing people who use drugs do to get more is called doctor shopping. For example, if you're addicted to Vicodin and your doctor gives you only 15 per month, you may look for another doctor who doesn't know you receive them and seek out even more from him or her. Then, you'd have two prescriptions and twice as many, or more than twice as many, narcotics available to you.
Unfortunately, misleading doctors and seeking out more drugs than you're supposed to be prescribed isn't legal and can result in an arrest. This is why some states now link narcotic use to Social Security numbers. It helps prevent overprescribing these potentially addictive medications.
Another mistake some people make is sharing drugs. Even though you might think it's helpful to give your remaining anxiety medications to a friend who uses them, it's against the law to share. You could be charged with illegal drug distribution, even though you shared among friends or family. Only doctors have the legal right to dispense drugs by prescription, so not having a prescription for a medication you're taking or "filling" another person's prescription with your own medications is against the law.
It is hard to live with an addiction, and jail time isn't always the right solution. Addictions change the brain and body, so it's important to get help to stop.