Police officers have frequent encounters with people who use drugs, either by making an arrest for a drug-related offense or responding to a drug overdose call. Yet, little is known about how police officers view drug addiction – as a disease, a moral failure, or something else – and how their frameworks for conceptualizing addiction impact their attitudes toward drug policies, including the use of naloxone. This research examined police officers’ adherence to a moralistic addiction framework in relation to their support for treatment-oriented drug policies. Officers (N = 618) were surveyed about their beliefs on drug policy and the extent to which drug addiction was a product of one's morals or related to social or biological reasons. Results found that approximately 22% of the variance in drug policy attitudes could be explained by addiction frameworks and control variables. Officers who embraced a biological perspective of addiction were more supportive of policies that expanded treatment, including access to naloxone, and less punitive sanctions. Those with stronger moralistic views were less supportive of expanding treatment initiatives and endorsed expanding punitive sanctions. Officer age and education was positively related with expanding treatment and naloxone use while exposure to overdoses was negatively related to policy support. These results demonstrate that officers’ frameworks about drug addiction play an important role in drug policy attitudes and, by extension, how they might interact with people who use drugs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Clinical Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health