Drug Addiction Treatment in the Criminal Justice System FROM The National Institute on Drug Abuse
Drug Use, Crime, and Incarceration
Drug Abuse Treatment
Why Family Support is Critical
More Treatment Is Needed
Treatment Principles: An Overview
Principles for Drug Abuse Treatment for Criminal Justice Populations: A Research-Based Guide provides research-based principles of addiction treatment. The 13 principles are:
Drug addiction is a brain disease that affects behavior. It affects people both physically and mentally. It can alter the brain and body chemistry for months or even years after a person stops using, so relapse is often part of the recovery process. It should be treated like any other disease.
Recovery from drug addiction requires effective treatment, followed by management of the problem over time. Drug users cannot alter their behavior without taking care of their addiction. Treatment that starts in prison or jail must continue after release. Treatment and recovery is hard work that must continue throughout a user’s life.
Treatment must last long enough to produce stable behavioral change. Without the right treatment, most drug users will use again once they return to their neighborhoods, even though drugs might put them right back in prison. Treatment should last long enough (90 days or more) to help drug users learn to manage their own drug problems.
Assessment is the first step in treatment. Drug users need to be examined by a doctor. The doctor might prescribe medicine, and will look for other possible problems, such as depression and anxiety, or medical conditions such as hepatitis, tuberculosis, or HIV/AIDS.
Tailoring services to fit the needs of the individual is an important part of effective drug use treatment for criminal justice populations. Each drug user has different needs regarding addiction counseling and treatment. The best approaches take each person’s age, gender, ethnicity, culture, and needs into account.
Drug use during treatment should be carefully monitored. Individuals recovering from drug addiction sometimes return to drug use, called relapse. Testing for continued drug use is an important part of treatment.
Treatment should target factors that are associated with criminal behavior. Offenders often have patterns of behavior, attitudes, and beliefs that support a “criminal” lifestyle. Treatment that helps offenders avoid negative thinking patterns can be effective.
Criminal justice supervision should incorporate treatment planning for drug using offenders, and treatment providers should be aware of correctional supervision requirements. It is important that corrections personnel work with treatment providers to make sure the individual treatment plan meets the needs of both the offender and the institution.
Continuity of care is essential for drug users re-entering the community. People who start receiving treatment while incarcerated need to continue treatment after release.
A balance of rewards and sanctions encourages pro-social behavior and treatment participation. During treatment, it is important that both positive and negative behaviors are recognized.
Offenders with co-occurring drug use and mental health problems often require an integrated treatment management approach. Drug treatment can sometimes help people who have depression or other mental health problems. It is important that these issues are addressed in treatment programs.
Medications are an important part of treatment for many drug using offenders. Medicines like methadone have been shown to help reduce heroin use. Medicines for mental health issues can also be used as part of treatment.
Treatment planning for drug using offenders who are living in or re-entering the community should include strategies to prevent and treat serious, chronic medical conditions, such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, and tuberculosis. Drug users and offenders are more likely to have infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and tuberculosis. People seeking treatment should be tested for these diseases and receive counseling on risky behaviors and seeking medical advice.