Magazine article Corrections Forum

The Case for Addiction Education

Magazine article Corrections Forum

The Case for Addiction Education

Article excerpt

Education in substance abuse can help professionals working in areas of law enforcement, criminal justice and corrections to perform their jobs with more effectiveness and authority. Given the fact that a large percent of the corrections population are incarcerated due to the direct or indirect effects of substance abuse and addiction, a better understanding of addiction would not only raise the confidence level of corrections workers, but could assist to reduce the numbers of offenders who use again after release.

According to a recent report by the Office of Applied Studies (OAS) in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), approximately 94 percent of Federal prisons, 56 percent of State prisons, and 33 percent of jails provide on-site substance abuse treatment to inmates.

In all types of adult correctional facilities with treatment, the most common setting for substance abuse treatment was in the general population of the facility. In most Federal and State prisons with treatment, the substance abuse treatment providers were paid staff members rather than outside providers.

As a worker in the corrections arena, if you received specific education in substance abuse and recovery as part of the curriculum in your specific field of study, you are among a very few because very few colleges and universities offer substance abuse as a field of study let alone require courses in this area for other majors.

Those who are incarcerated in the corrections system are a special population bringing with them unique characteristics that need to be well understood in order to try and assist in moving them from what brought them to the system, to release back into the general population. If we add to these, issues of substance abuse and addiction, an entire new set of characteristics must be understood and worked with. With so many correctional facilities providing treatment onsite, a combination of education in the fields of criminal justice and addiction would seem to be a very wise move.

Pulling together these two closely linked fields of study should provide for a wider range of employability for the corrections professional and improve the quality of treatment being provided in corrections facilities.

Substance abuse education is offered at college level in a number of institutions, but is usually part of a specific major or minor and is not incorporated into the curriculum for other major areas of study. Those who study in such areas as criminal justice, social work, nursing, and education should be required to have a basic understanding of the stages and phases of substance abuse and treatment.

There are good, accredited institutions offering classes, certificate programs and degrees, in the study of addiction. Many of these institutions offer distancelearning programs to make receiving this information more accessible to those already working in corrections, substance abuse or other areas.

In the May/June 2003 issue of Corrections Forum magazine, an article by Laura Gater, titled, Technology Increases Distance Learning Options, the advantages of distance learning programs was presented as a strong option to consider for corrections staff members who want to improve their knowledge of criminal justice and related areas of study. …

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