Drug Treatment Urged in Criminal Justice; Report Cites Lower Society Costs

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Byline: Josh Rutledge, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Failure to treat incarcerated drug abusers can lead to higher crime rates and re-incarceration, says to a report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the costs of treatment are not nearly as high as the costs to society when drug abuse is ignored.

"Ninety-five percent of those who receive no treatment while incarcerated end up relapsing into drugs. And 70 percent of those end up re-incarcerated as a result," Dr. Nora Volkow, director of NIDA, said yesterday. "By changing those numbers, we can reduce crime and lower the financial cost. Simply putting a drug abuser in jail without treatment does nothing."

NIDA said every dollar spent toward effective treatment programs yields a $4 to $7 return in reduced drug-related crime, criminal costs and theft. That return is even greater when health care savings are taken into account, the institute said.

The NIDA report listed 13 research-based principles for substance abuse treatment in the criminal justice population.

"The aim is to provide people with a comprehensive set of principles that ensure that a treatment program will be effective," Dr. Volkow said in a telephone interview.

The report says drug addiction is a brain disease that affects behavior. …