One of the biggest problems that society faces currently is the high rate of recidivism and the ever-growing prison population in America. Considering that nearly 65% of inmates meet the criteria for addiction while only 11% receive any form of treatment, there’s no question why so many go through the revolving door of incarceration. By making medication-assisted treatment available in prisons, recovery for inmates is possible, and it can drastically reduce other urgent issues that trouble the prison system and those who are serving time.
Addiction and Prison Cycle
People who suffer from substance use disorder are much more likely to be involved with illegal activities that will land them in trouble with the law, hence the high rates of recidivism, or the cyclical pattern of an inmate being released and returning to jail. Inmates who struggle with addiction are also statistically prone to starting their legal troubles at an earlier age when compared to their peers, and are four times more likely to receive income through drug-related illegal activities.
From the outside, many see a jail stint as a perfect opportunity at recovery for inmates without realizing that it’s much more complicated than serving time and abstaining. Because very few people understand that addiction is a disease, rather than just a lack of willpower to stop using a substance, they aren’t aware that the long-lasting changes in the brain that occur with significant drug misuse can’t merely be “scared” out of someone with a prison sentence. Not to mention, the lack of addiction treatment in prisons also causes a very large-spanning illicit substance system, which means inmates still have access to drugs, especially those who are looking to avoid succumbing to withdrawal symptoms. Not only does this increase overdose instances among prisoners, but it amplifies criminal activity from behind bars that cause significant and sometimes deadly situations for correctional officers and inmates.
Beneficial Recovery for Inmates
Making recovery for inmates possible with the use of medication-assisted treatment within prisons and jails could produce historically positive effects on the country’s criminal justice system. Many inmates struggling with addiction are willing to seek treatment during their incarceration. With comprehensive programs that focus on recovery for inmates using substance counseling, medication, and other therapies, prisons would be able to reduce the overpopulation issues occurring in every state significantly. Inmates undergoing MAT who are released with mandated clinic visits to continue their treatment, and stick with it, even if to avoid returning to jail, are less likely to re-offend and can often free themselves from their previous illegal activities.
Recovery for inmates is possible; in fact, it’s the only humane thing to do for those who are incarcerated. Addiction is a disease that deserves to be treated just like any other chronic illness, even for those who have lost their freedom and are held within the criminal justice system. Treating the human, though they have committed illegal acts, should be at the very foundation of prison reform in America, and only then will other issues be able to be addressed.
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