Abusing drugs can have a wide range of consequences for individuals of all ages. For young people, legal ramifications create obstacles that last well into later life, even long after entering recovery. In Utah, possession of some types of drugs can constitute a felony, leading to long prison sentences and severe difficulties in finding employers.
According to research gathered by Utah State University, possession or sale of drugs and related materials can result in up to five years in prison and a third-degree felony on record. Even alcohol can create difficulties for minors, with possession possibly leading to fines and a suspended license.
The inability to find a well-paying job with a felony on record is not an obscure problem. One study by John Schmitt, Ph.D., and Kris Warner, titled “Ex-Offenders and the Labor Market,” pointed out this rampant issue and how it costs the American economy millions of workers.
Schmitt and Warner discussed this as due to more “draconian” laws for drug offenders in recent years rather than a rise of criminal activity, although it is vital to point out that illicit drug use has risen in recent years.
“Every indication is that, in the absence of some reform of the criminal justice system, the share of ex-offenders in the working-age population will rise substantially in coming decades,” the report concluded.
Schmitt and Warner also brought up other affected components of “human capital” for ex-prisoners, including but not limited to:
- Formal education
- Social support networks
- Social awareness
As a result, they found that a “history of incarceration reduces a worker’s chance of being hired by 15 to 30 percent and reduces the annual number of weeks worked by 6 to 11 weeks, with the effect being more pronounced among minorities and undereducated ex-prisoners.”
Waiting until legal interventions to quit abusing drugs can often be too late to prevent serious repercussions, especially when laws of the land focus on punishment rather than rehabilitation. Young people in particular benefit from prevention and treatment services that avert future criminality.
White River Academy is a boarding school and behavioral health center with many experts of different specialties ready to treat young men between the ages of 12 and 17. Our many activities and therapeutic modalities treat drug addiction and other mental illnesses, giving students a better chance at a brighter future. Learn more about our programs by calling our 24/7 helpline.
Written by Nicholas Ruiz.