Opioids, Addiction Treatment, and the Long Tail of Eugenics

80 Ohio St. L. J. 841 (2019)

17 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2019

See all articles by Laura I Appleman

Laura I Appleman

Willamette University College of Law

Date Written: December 1, 2019


Our attitude, treatment, and punishment of opioid addiction partly results from the long, intertwined history of eugenics and incarceration. There is a thread of eugenics-based philosophy undergirding our widespread imprisonment of the poor, disabled, and dependent. The current approach to opioid addiction in the criminal justice and sentencing worlds reflects this bias, hindering our ability to best treat the opioid crisis. Our 21st century tactics to combat the opioid addiction crisis unwittingly track the methods used to address the widespread use of opioids in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with equally troubling results. Indeed, addiction to pharmaceutical opiates is no recent problem; historically, iatrogenic drug use has been far more extensive than illicit drug use. Old errors are being re-enacted as we attempt to solve the problems of opioid-addicted offenders during sentencing, inside correctional facilities, and on release. Accordingly, before we craft workable policies to combat the opioid crisis, we must fully explore and understand the history of iatrogenic opioid addiction, to avoid making the same mistakes.

Keywords: opioids, addiction, eugenics, disability, sentencing, criminal justice

Suggested Citation

Appleman, Laura I, Opioids, Addiction Treatment, and the Long Tail of Eugenics (December 1, 2019). 80 Ohio St. L. J. 841 (2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3496072

Laura I Appleman (Contact Author)

Willamette University College of Law ( email )

245 Winter St. SE
Salem, OR 97301
United States
(503) 370-6651 (Phone)

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