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.

June 20, 2018
Henry Giroux
Trump’s War on Children is an act of State Terrorism
Bill Hackwell
Unprecedented Cruelty Against Immigrants and Their Children
Paul Atwood
“What? You Think We’re So Innocent?”
Nicola Perugini
The Palestinian Tipping Point
K.J. Noh
Destiny and Daring: South Korean President Moon Jae-In’s Impossible Journey Towards Peace
Gary Leupp
Jeff Sessions and St. Paul’s Clear and Wise Commands
M. G. Piety
On Speaking Small Truths to Power
Dave Lindorff
Some Straight Talk for Younger People on Social Security (and Medicare too)
George Wuerthner
The Public Value of Forests as Carbon Reserves
CJ Hopkins
Confession of a Putin-Nazi Denialist
David Schultz
Less Than Fundamental:  the Myth of Voting Rights in America
Rohullah Naderi
The West’s Over-Publicized Development Achievements in Afghanistan 
Dan Bacher
California Lacks Real Marine Protection as Offshore Drilling Expands in State Waters
Lori Hanson – Miguel Gomez
The Students of Nicaragua’s April Uprising
Russell Mokhiber
Are Corporations Are Behind Frivolous Lawsuits Against Corporations?
Michael Welton
Infusing Civil Society With Hope for a Better World
June 19, 2018
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
We Can Thank Top Union Officials for Trump
Lawrence Davidson
The Republican Party Falls Apart, the Democrats Get Stuck
Sheldon Richman
Trump, North Korea, and Iran
Richard Rubenstein
Trump the (Shakespearean) Fool: a New Look at the Dynamics of Trumpism
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Protect Immigrant Rights; End the Crises That Drive Migration
Gary Leupp
Norway: Just Withdraw From NATO
Kristine Mattis
Nerd Culture, Adultolescence, and the Abdication of Social Priorities
Mike Garrity
The Forest Service Should Not be Above the Law
Colin Todhunter
Pro-GMO Activism And Smears Masquerade As Journalism: From Seralini To Jairam Ramesh, Aruna Rodrigues Puts The Record Straight
Doug Rawlings
Does the Burns/Novick Vietnam Documentary Deserve an Emmy?
Kenneth Surin
2018 Electioneering in Appalachian Virginia
Nino Pagliccia
Chrystia Freeland Fails to See the Emerging Multipolar World
John Forte
Stuart Hall and Us
June 18, 2018
Paul Street
Denuclearize the United States? An Unthinkable Thought
John Pilger
Bring Julian Assange Home
Conn Hallinan
The Spanish Labyrinth
Patrick Cockburn
Attacking Hodeidah is a Deliberate Act of Cruelty by the Trump Administration
Gary Leupp
Trump Gives Bibi Whatever He Wants
Thomas Knapp
Child Abductions: A Conversation It’s Hard to Believe We’re Even Having
Robert Fisk
I Spoke to Palestinians Who Still Hold the Keys to Homes They Fled Decades Ago – Many are Still Determined to Return
Steve Early
Requiem for a Steelworker: Mon Valley Memories of Oil Can Eddie
Jim Scheff
Protect Our National Forests From an Increase in Logging
Adam Parsons
Reclaiming the UN’s Radical Vision of Global Economic Justice
Dean Baker
Manufacturing Production Falls in May and No One Notices
Laura Flanders
Bottom-Up Wins in Virginia’s Primaries
Binoy Kampmark
The Anguish for Lost Buildings: Embers and Death at the Victoria Park Hotel
Weekend Edition
June 15, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Dan Kovalik
The US & Nicaragua: a Case Study in Historical Amnesia & Blindness
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Yellow Journalism and the New Cold War
Charles Pierson
The Day the US Became an Empire
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail