The penalty for many drug crimes is simple: Time behind bars. You may also have to pay fines. After you serve your sentence, you're free to return to normal life, though you may now have a permanent criminal record that will follow you wherever you go.
In short, drugs have been criminalized in the United States. People get arrested simply for possessing them, not to mention driving under the influence, selling drugs, transporting them across state lines or even making them in the first place.
One important question to ask, though, is whether or not this is actually an effective approach. Many people who commit drug crimes are addicted to those drugs. Jail time does not address the root problem. Locking someone up does not give them treatment for a very real disease -- addiction -- that they may not have any way to overcome on their own.
In fact, jail time may actively take people out of their treatment programs. That's what happened to one woman who, despite trying to work through the program, failed a drug test while on probation. She then had to go to jail as a result, where she received no treatment.
If you have ever tried to overcome any sort of addiction, you know it's not an instant process. You may have a relapse or make some mistakes even while you are making a lot of progress overall. Would sending you to jail for those mistakes help you get better or just make the issue worse?
It is important to know all of your options when facing drug charges. It's time to focus on your future and what you really need.