Substance abuse has a number of well-known consequences and there is no denying that the likelihood of crime increases among those who abuse controlled substances, despite their illegality. Addiction to drugs can lead a person to go to great lengths to obtain them, regardless of the consequences of breaking the law that may result.
There are a number of different crimes that a person may commit while under the influence of drugs including murder, rape, robbery and other serious offenses like hate crimes. Such criminal actions often lead the user to court and eventual incarceration. Many prison inmates serving time for such crimes also have difficulties with substance abuse. One-tenth of every hundred American citizens are in jail or prison at any given time and 80 percent of inmates abuse drugs or alcohol. Half of all inmates are dealing with substance dependence and more than 90 percent return to controlled substances after release.
Most of those who have been incarcerated for crime involving controlled substances faced more charges than just possession. In 2008, a total of 18 percent of prisoners on a state level were sentenced for drug offenses and six percent were incarcerated for drug possession itself. The overwhelming majority of federal inmates were incarcerated for drug trafficking. Unfortunately, many inmates do not receive adequate treatment for their substance abuse or any related health disorders which in turn means they are more likely to relapse and end up back in jail again.
Besides the criminal implications of substance dependence, there are also other ways in which one’s lifestyle may be adversely affected. This may include troubles such as: loss of employment, difficulties with personal finances and children being separated from parents.
Treatment as an alternative to incarceration
Those who do not receive treatment will have greater odds of returning to a former lifestyle of crime and illicit drug use. Treatment is a preferred option for many of those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Long term, treatment has proven to reduce overall costs associated with crime and incarceration.
Those who do receive proper treatment for their substance abuse will have better chances of making substantial changes to their personal life, including changes to their beliefs and attitudes. Treatment may assist in reducing drug abuse by half, as well as lowering the number of arrests made for drug-related crimes.
Drug court may be an appropriate option for a number of drug offenders. However, currently many of the drug court options available nationwide are small organizations and therefore only treat a small number of offenders. Those who are eligible for drug courts tend to be more minor offenders. Those with a more serious offense, such as those involving violence, are often not eligible for this program. Therefore, there will still need to be other options for many inmates for the time being.
There is still the possibility of an inmate receiving drug treatment while in prison. However, thousands in this population often need to wait months before their involvement in such a program begins due to lack of sufficient resources or available staff.
Ultimately, an individual who is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse will end of benefiting from a treatment program while in prison or, if these services are not available to them, when they are released. Treatment programs will often include different forms of therapy and sometimes with use medication for those who need it.
Effective programs will remember to take into account co-occurring disorders such as substance abuse and a mental health disorder or trauma from physical or sexual abuse.
The importance of emphasizing other options when appropriate, such as drug court, cannot be overstated.
The consequence of an inmate not receiving substance abuse treatment while in prison will be an increased rate of recidivism upon release which is the tendency for an inmate to return to criminal behavior, despite the consequences. The offender will often eventually re-enter jail or prison as a result. This is why addressing such concerns remains an important issue, as the inmate who does receive treatment may have greater odds of making lifestyle changes that will prevent this cycle from repeating itself.
For those in need of a proper treatment program, Sovereign Health Group can help. We offer effective and holistic treatment programs for drug and alcohol addiction, mental health disorders and co-occurring conditions. To learn more about our programs or about our legal services, you can talk to a member of our team over the phone or through our online chat.
Written by Sovereign Health Writer, Ryan McMaster