NIDA Survey Shows Lack of Substance Abuse Treatment Options for Offenders
A recent survey funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows that fewer than ten percent of drug-abusing offenders are getting the kind of treatment they need.
Schmalfeldt: Studies show that drug abuse treatment cuts drug abuse in half, drastically decreases criminal activity and significantly reduces arrests. Yet a recent survey funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows that fewer than ten percent of drug-abusing offenders are getting the kind of treatment they need.
Bennett: I think that's exactly where you would want them to be available. That ten percent refers to people who are in community corrections, which includes parole, probation, community supervision. And those are the people who are at very high risk when they go back into the community from incarceration of using drugs again.
Schmalfeldt: That was Dr. Fletcher Bennett, the NIDA Science Officer on the National Criminal Justice Treatment Practices Survey, which provides a picture of existing treatment programs across all correctional settings — including jails, prisons, probation and parole offices, and local community correction agencies for juvenile and adult offenders. He said that the survey shows there are far too few programs and services in a correctional setting, and the ones that do exist are only offered to a handful of offenders.
Bennett: There are probably various reasons, the biggest one may be just simply resources. Often there's an assumption drug abuse treatment is available in the community when in fact it is not. It's underfunded and undersupported.
Schmalfeldt: In a published statement, NIDA Director Dr. Nora J. Volkow said that since offenders are four times as likely as the general population to have a substance abuse disorder, treating the offender population could measurably lower the demand for drugs in our society and reduce the crime rate. Dr. Bennett said NIDA is looking for ways to increase drug abuse treatment access for offenders
Bennett: At this point we're simply trying to find the best way to integrate drug abuse treatment into correctional settings, including community corrections settings as well as jails and prisons. And so we're trying to find more effective ways of doing that so that the individual can have better outcomes when they go back into the community.
Schmalfeldt: The survey findings were published in a special issue of the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. From the National Institutes of Health, I'm Bill Schmalfeldt in Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Bill Schmalfeldt
Sound Bite: Dr. Fletcher Bennett
Topic: Drug Abuse Treatment