Michael Douglas’ Emmy acceptance speech last September left many viewers wondering about the actor’s eldest son Cameron. After accepting the award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a movie or miniseries, Douglas mentioned his son and said “..hopefully I'll be able to see him soon.”. Later on the actor elaborated on his statement, explaining that his son had been in prison the last two years in solitary confinement and denied any visitation rights, even from his parents.
Cameron Douglas was put behind bars in 2010 for selling meth and having heroin in his possession. His original five year sentence was increased to another four years after he failed a drug test in prison. His parents and others are outraged that a non violent drug offense can result in a 9 year prison sentence.
Support For A Bigger Issue
Drug Policy Alliance activist Tony Papa began an online petition on Change.org to get Cameron’s parents visitation rights to see their son. The petition began to gain support from the Douglas’ celebrity friends as well as others who are shocked by the harsh treatment of non violent drug offenders by the system. They say that recovery, not punishment is the answer. Douglas’ son needs help for his addiction, not more solitary confinement.
The petition was gaining steam when it was suddenly pulled from Change.org in early October. When questioned about the deleted petition, the Drug Policy Alliance said they had changed their stance on the issue. Instead of focusing on an individual, they wanted to bring attention to the bigger issue of prison reform. By focusing on Cameron Douglas, they believed that they were sending out the wrong message that a celebrity case mattered more than the thousands of others out there.
Douglas and his ex-wife Diandra are still fighting to see their son who remains in solitary confinement in the Cumberland, Maryland prison. They say both his mental and physical health are suffering as a result of the condition.
An All Too Familiar Story
Cameron Douglas is just one of many who struggle with addiction behind bars. Relapse is common in an environment where treatment options are limited and punishment is favored over recovery. In a nation where overcrowded prisons are costing us millions, why is this still happening?
The solution is not so simple. Drug addiction is actually a complex disease that isn’t easy to treat and that many still don’t fully understand. Even those who struggle with addiction outside of prison face many challenges in their attempts at recovery. It takes more than just an intention to quit to stay sober. Because addiction is a disease, it affects the body as well as the way the brain works. Putting people in prison for an addiction seems like the least effective thing to do.
New research is shedding some light on how addiction can be treated more effectively. Long term treatment and viewing addiction as a lifelong condition can be more beneficial to addicts seeking help. Unfortunately, many treatment facilities have yet to incorporate these new concepts into their practices and in the way they handle their patients.
Addicts in prison have an even lower chance of getting appropriate treatment, which is a shame because drug use is linked to so many crimes. If addicts got the treatment they needed in the first place, perhaps we’d see less of the thefts, murders, and other violent crimes that they so often become entangled with.
Cindy Nichols is the founder of 411 Intervention, a full-service intervention resource that helps individuals with addiction issues find treatment solutions. You can see an interview with Cindy here on Recovery Now TV.