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Alcohol and Drug Treatment for The Incarcerated

One of the reasons we incarcerate those who commit crimes is to rehabilitate them.  The US justice system is supposed to help these individuals become civil members of society.  Since alcohol or drug use is involved in most crimes that result in incarceration, though, you would think that alcohol and drug treatment would be a key factor in their rehabilitation.  Unfortunately, that’s not the case for most of them.

A couple of scenarios can help explain why alcohol and drug treatment is needed for the incarcerated.  First, there is the alcoholic or drug addict who committed a crime while under the influence.  The second group consists of alcohol and drug abusers who live a life of crime and have been incarcerated several times.

Alcohol dependence and drug addiction can cause the sufferer to do things they normally wouldn’t.  This can be due to blackouts or desperation for a “fix”, among other reasons.  When the crime committed is serious enough to warrant incarceration, it stands to reason that treatment should be provided before they are released.  

These are not career criminals, but people who suffer from a disease that needs to be treated.  Probation for this group is counter-intuitive.  Follow-up outpatient alcohol or drug treatment makes better sense.  The problem is alcohol dependence or drug addiction, and not crime.  So the solution is to fix the primary problems of alcoholism or drug addiction that resulted in the crime.

Many incarcerated individuals know of no other way to survive than to commit crimes due to life circumstances.  They are always in and out of jails and prisons, and tend to use alcohol or drugs to mask inner feelings that motivate their life of crime.  The justice system would make great strides in solving this ongoing problem by providing alcohol and drug treatment during incarceration.

Alcohol and drug treatment gives sufferers a sense of hope that life can be lived not only without alcohol and drugs, but also as productive members of society.  For the incarcerated, the treatment experience can be powerful when they relate life experiences with one another.  The hope generated by treatment during incarceration can help many “career criminals” change the course of their lives.

Time served in a jails and prisons does nothing for anyone if they don’t learn how to change their lives upon release into society.  Even those with the best intentions of “going straight”, not knowing how, are at risk of returning to a life of crime.  So continued outpatient or even residential alcohol and drug treatment during probation can help to prevent a return to damaging lifestyles.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported on the lack of treatment available to incarcerated individuals.  An excerpt is provided below.  Revolving doors at jails and prisons don’t need to exist when we have solutions like alcohol and drug treatment.  And in tough economic times, it’s nice to know that making these changes will save money.

-- Begin external content --

Effective Treatment Is Not Widely Available

Less than 10 percent of adults and about 20 percent of adolescents with substance abuse problems in the Nation's jails, prisons, and probation programs can receive treatment on a given day, according to the National Criminal Justice Treatment Practices Survey (NCJTPS). Although 65 percent of adult facilities report that they offer substance abuse treatment, the number of people who can participate in these programs is often severely limited.

These findings further reveal the scope of the problem highlighted by previous research indicating that the most frequently provided services for adults and adolescents—substance abuse education and low-intensity group therapy (less than 4 hours a week)—are not likely to help offenders change their behavior. The survey also disclosed that only 40 percent of adult facilities and 29 percent of juvenile facilities reported having full-time personnel to provide drug abuse therapy.

-- Source: http://www.nida.nih.gov/NIDA_notes/NNvol22N3/nidaatwork.html#insert

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles makes a daily effort to find treatment news articles that we can share with our readers in the alcohol and drug treatment community.  The external content was found among other articles of equal informational and educational quality.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County and Orange County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley, and in Santa Ana.

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