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Addiction and Incarceration

At the end of 2016, about 2.2 million individuals were incarcerated in America. Many of these inmates experience issues with substance abuse or addiction, with an estimated half of state and federal prisoners abusing or addicted to drugs. Addiction often fuels dangerous and self-destructive behaviors that can lead to incarceration, while incarceration provides opportunities to keep using. However, incarceration can also present opportunities for treatment.

Incarceration Rates and Addiction

DrugAbuse.gov notes that “involvement in the criminal justice system often results from illegal drug-seeking behavior and participation in illegal activities that reflect, in part, disrupted behavior ensuing from brain changes triggered by repeated drug use.” Statistics show that as many as 63 to 83% of arrestees have some drugs in their systems at the time of arrest, but only 11% of addicted individuals receive needed substance abuse treatment in jail or prison.

Jail Time for Substance-Related Crimes Differs Per State

Incarceration for substance-related offenses differs on a state level due to varying legal policy. The Pew Trusts notes that “in 2014, Louisiana had the highest drug-offender imprisonment rate in the nation, more than twice the rate of 37 other states. Massachusetts’ drug imprisonment rate was the lowest, less than one-seventh of Louisiana’s”. The length of imprisonment, substance amount necessary for a given sentence, and the degree of fine imposed can all differ based on the state.

Race, Gender, and Addiction in Incarcerated Individuals

Struggles with addiction and incarceration do not fall on all demographics equally, with race and gender playing a significant role. Research has found that “African Americans have higher abstinence rates than the general population, but experience a disproportionate degree of health consequences related to addiction, and significant disparities in drug related incarcerations”. Gender comes into play as well, with the number of incarcerated women having quadrupled over the last 20 years. Race and gender also intersect, with 54% of incarcerated women being African American or Latina. Unfortunately, research shows that “most women in prison are untreated substance abusers with high recidivism rates that correlate with greater addiction severity”.

Treating Incarcerated Addicts

Numerous barriers in treating incarcerated addicts exist. One study categorizes some of these as “trauma and hopelessness, inmate identity and culture, and gender specific issues”. For example, incarcerated addicts often experience co-occurring mental disorders alongside addiction. This can be compounded by general feelings of hopelessness related to incarceration, a prison culture that encourages dangerous behaviors like substance abuse, and other identity-specific issues. Treatments for addiction in prisons vary, but can include individual or group counseling, cognitive programs, specialty groups based on specific life experiences, and educational training, among others. Studies recommend that “treatment for incarcerated drug abusers should include continuing care, monitoring, and supervision after incarceration and during parole”. 12-step and similar recovery groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, can be indispensable in providing a supportive community and safe environment for recovering individuals post-incarceration.

Addiction Treatment at Granite Recovery Centers

Addiction can often lead to the sort of dangerous and illegal behavior that damages lives, whether in the form of incarceration, severe health issues, or great financial and social costs. Treatment at a drug rehab center can be an alternative to incarceration for some. For others, seeking recovery care post-incarceration can be one of the best ways to get one’s life back on track and avoid the sorts of behaviors and situations that led to criminal activity in the first place. Granite Recovery Centers in New Hampshire offers numerous levels of drug rehab, from medically-supervised detox to inpatient drug rehab programs to sober living. Using a unique mixture of 12-step work and clinical care in its recovery programs, Granite Recovery Centers provides individualized care to get you or your loved one where you need to be to achieve a happier life of sustained recovery. If you or a loved one is struggling with a drug addiction, please give our admissions specialists a call at 855.712.7784 . We can help.

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