Drug and alcohol use has proven to be an enormous problem among inmates.
has shown that those who were addicted to drugs or alcohol before their imprisonment they
resume their addiction upon release and continue to resort to crime (Harrison, 2001).
Regrettably, the prior use of drugs and alcohol among inmates before incarceration has steadily
increased in past years.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics on substance abuse and
treatment among state and federal prisoners in 1997, eighty-three percent of state prisoners
reported past drug use, up from seventy-nine percent in 1991.
Also fifty-seven percent reportedly
used drugs in the month before their offense, up from fifty percent.
The reported rate of use in
the past month also increased among federal prisoners from thirty-two percent in 1991 to forty-
It was also reported that half of state prisoners and a third of federal prisoners
committed their current offense under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
So how can this
dilemma be corrected?
One obvious solution would be for inmates to undergo some form of
substance abuse treatment program.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that a third of state
prisoners and about a quarter of federal prisoners had participated in some type of drug or alcohol
abuse treatment since incarceration.
However, does inmate participation in substance abuse
treatments actually reduce recidivism?
Some research has not shown any significant changes caused by inmate participation in
In 1992, Martin, Lockwood, Inciardi, and Freeman found that among three
groups receiving different treatment interventions, there was no significant decline in recidivism
In 1993, Inciardi, McBride and Weinman also did not find any recidivism differences
between those receiving only urine monitoring and those receiving treatment.
research has shown that substance abuse treatment programs do, in fact, reduce recidivism among
It has been reported that substance abuse programs reduce recidivism, at least among
drunk driving offenders, while punishment does not (Yu, 2000; Pratt, Holsinger, & Latessa,
However, whether a program is successful depends on many kinds of variables, including
the type of treatment, how long the inmate has participated in the program, whether he/she is a