Identifying the Proper Drug-Abuse Treatment for Offenders

By Simpson, Mark T. | Corrections Today, December 2008 | Go to article overview

Identifying the Proper Drug-Abuse Treatment for Offenders


Simpson, Mark T., Corrections Today


The criminal justice system, with respect to drug abuse treatment, has come a long way since the dark old days of "nothing works." By the late 1990s, nearly half of all adult and juvenile correctional facilities were providing some level of drug abuse treatment. By 2003, nearly three-fourths of all prisons provided such services. (1) The proliferation of drug abuse treatment for offenders extends beyond the walls of prisons and jails. It is now estimated that the criminal justice system generates nearly 50 percent of all referrals to community-based drug abuse treatment. (2) With state legislatures searching for cost-effective alternatives to incarceration, the growth in drug abuse treatment for offenders can only be expected to continue.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The Link Between Drugs and Crime

So why has the criminal justice system turned to drug treatment in such a big way? Certainly, a hypothesized link between drug use and crime offers one explanation. As the theory goes, if people turn to crime to support their drug use, then treatment aimed at stopping offenders' drug use will also impact their propensity to commit crime. A reduction in the demand for drugs therefore results in a reduction in crime. Viewed from this perspective, drug treatment is a win-win situation for the offender as well as for society. How could anyone argue against this public policy strategy?

The drug-crime link, however, presupposes the notion that offenders are addicts who, absent their addiction, would live a crime-free, pro-social life. This may not necessarily be the case. To illustrate this point, offenders can be categorized as belonging to one of two groups. The first group of offenders can be thought of as living primarily a criminal lifestyle. That is, their lives are organized around criminal activity as a way of life. These offenders engage in crime as a means to obtain money, sex, material possessions and status. For these offenders, drug use is not the primary focus of their lives; rather, drugs are viewed as a means to support their criminal enterprise. The second group of offenders can be thought of as living primarily an addict lifestyle. That is, their lives are organized primarily around their use of alcohol and other psychoactive substances. Unlike offenders who manifest a criminal lifestyle, these offenders are the "true" addicts. Their crimes, whether it is simple possession, prescription drug fraud or more serious crimes such as vehicular homicide, are committed primarily as a consequence of their use of alcohol and other drugs.

Although offenders can exhibit either a criminal or addict lifestyle, it is likely that many offenders exhibit aspects of both. Although no research exists to specify the degree of overlap between these two populations, it probably depends on a variety of factors, including the type and security level of the facility in which offenders are housed (e.g., jail vs. prison, high vs. low security). Regardless, there is little evidence to suggest that illicit drug use converts nonoffenders into offenders; rather, drug use appears to intensify criminal activity among those who are already offenders. (3) As a consequence, it can be expected that a large percentage of offenders who use drugs also exhibit a criminal lifestyle.

Targeting the Treatment

What happens when these two groups of offenders are separated from their drugs of choice? Consider the case of the lifestyle addict. There is a truism in addictions treatment that individuals stop growing up emotionally when they start abusing alcohol and other drugs. This is because drugs and alcohol become the means by which substance abusers cope (or actually avoid coping) with life's problems. The earlier those individuals start relying on alcohol and other drugs as a coping mechanism, the earlier they stop developing more mature coping skills. Typically, offenders begin using drugs--particularly alcohol and marijuana--in their teen years. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Identifying the Proper Drug-Abuse Treatment for Offenders
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.