FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Slugger’s Drug Redemption

Texas Ranger Josh Hamilton is the new golden boy of baseball. Hamilton’s record-breaking performance in Major League Baseball’s All-Star Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium last week is a living testament to that fact that people who struggled with drugs in the past can change their lives in a positive way. A few years ago, Hamilton, who developed an addiction to alcohol and drugs—primarily crack cocaine— was at a lowest point of his life when he was suspended from baseball for almost three years.

Instead of giving in to the downward spiral of drug addiction, he made an effort to turn around his life through his love of baseball. After eight stints in rehab, Hamilton was finally able to kick his addiction and return to baseball. While he may not have won the Home Run Derby crown, battling and defeating the monster of addiction makes him a winner.

Hamilton was fortunate that his addiction was not handled as a criminal manner. Instead of having Hamilton deal with his demons behind bars, his addiction was treated as a medical problem, which helped him get his life back on track. Hamilton’s story sends a powerful message to society. Individuals who have drug addictions can become productive citizens, if given the chance.

A realistic way to help those who cycle in and out of addiction is to increase community-based treatment. Studies have shown this to be a cost-effective method of reducing drug abuse. Hamilton was lucky enough to be able to afford treatment and get access right away. Most people cannot afford it. And even if they can, they are usually forced to compete for the available treatment slots.

Recent developments in criminal justice indicate the emergence of a national movement in favor of treating, rather than incarcerating people charged with a nonviolent drug possession offense. These developments include drug courts, local policies which favor treatment, and statewide ballot initiatives that divert nonviolent drug offenders to treatment instead of incarceration.

But instead of following this trend, the federal government continues to turn a blind eye toward this movement and steadfastly sticks to zero-tolerance when it comes to illegal drug use. Witness the get-tough policies of ONDCP (Office of National Drug Control Policy) under the direction of John P. Walters. In fact, the ONDCP is so hell-bent on controlling the so-called drug plague that their policies have turned from overly intrusive to downright war-like at times. From suspicionless student drug testing to mandatory minimum sentencing laws that dish out extraordinarily long sentences for small amounts of drugs, the drug war continues be the government’s national moral obsession. It is one thing to try to shield society from the harms associated with the drugs, but another when its solutions become worse than the original problems.

We need to implement sensible drug policies that uphold the sovereignty of individuals over their minds and bodies, and are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights. Maybe then we can give people like Josh Hamilton another chance to make good on their potential.

ANTHONY PAPA is the author of 15 Years to Life: How I Painted My Way to Freedom and Communications Specialist for Drug Policy Alliance. He can be reached at: anthonypapa123@yahoo.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Anthony Papa is the Manager of Media and Artist Relations for the Drug Policy Alliance and the author of This Side of Freedom: Life After Lockdown.

September 24, 2018
Jonathan Cook
Hiding in Plain Sight: Why We Cannot See the System Destroying Us
Gary Leupp
All the Good News (Ignored by the Trump-Obsessed Media)
Robert Fisk
I Don’t See How a Palestinian State Can Ever Happen
Barry Brown
Pot as Political Speech
Lara Merling
Puerto Rico’s Colonial Legacy and Its Continuing Economic Troubles
Patrick Cockburn
Iraq’s Prime Ministers Come and Go, But the Stalemate Remains
William Blum
The New Iraq WMD: Russian Interference in US Elections
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Snoopers’ Charter Has Been Dealt a Serious Blow
Joseph Matten
Why Did Global Economic Performance Deteriorate in the 1970s?
Zhivko Illeieff
The Millennial Label: Distinguishing Facts from Fiction
Thomas Hon Wing Polin – Gerry Brown
Xinjiang : The New Great Game
Binoy Kampmark
Casting Kavanaugh: The Trump Supreme Court Drama
Max Wilbert
Blue Angels: the Naked Face of Empire
Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail