Improve Recovery Support for People in Criminal Justice System

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Brief Description


Treatment and the Criminal Justice System 

While many similarities exist between substance abuse treatment for those in the criminal justice system and for those in the general population, people in the criminal justice system have added stressors, including but not limited to their precarious legal situation. Criminal justice clients also tend to have characteristics that affect treatment. These include criminal thinking and criminal values along with the more typical resistance and denial issues found in other substance abuse treatment populations.

Many offenders also have a long history of psychosocial problems that have contributed to their substance abuse: interpersonal difficulties with family members, difficulties in sustaining long-term relationships, emotional and psychological problems and disorders, difficulty managing anger and stress, lack of education and vocational skills, and problems finding and maintaining gainful employment (Belenko and Peugh 1998; Peters 1993). These chronic problems often are associated with reduced self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and enhanced expectations about the initial use of substances. Unsuccessful attempts at abstinence also tend to reinforce a negative self-image and increase the likelihood that offenders will use substances when faced with conflict or stress.


Tools and Resources

Benefits of Treatment in the Criminal Justice System.

An increasing number of studies have shown that there are many benefits to providing treatment within the criminal justice system, and doing so is part of a more comprehensive strategy that is proving to be far more effetive than simply continuing to arrest and incarcarate people with SUD.


Promising Practices and Case Studies

Examples from communities that have implemented tools focused on this objective