Recidivism and Addiction: Treatment or Incarceration?

Recidivism (reoffending, or “catching a new charge”) is a common thread in alcoholics and drug addicts. It is no secret that jail does not fix the problem. If it did, no one would ever get rearrested after the first time. It stands to reason then, that incarceration is not a specific deterrent to criminal behavior, especially for the drug addict/alcoholic. Here are some statistics from the 80s and 90s that show an increase from 50% to almost 70% for drug offenders, after release from prison:

https://www.bjs.gov/content/reentry/recidivism.cfm

With the reality of recidivism established, a look at treatment and intervention programs is the next step. This is a great article, if you are a research junkie like myself and have the time, that dives into these things:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2681083/

While much work could be done to improve the system, I think that the prospect of incarceration can still serve as a bit of a deterrent; it sure did for me. My hope is that moving forward we can see more acceptance and opportunity to help the addict instead of turning directly to a punitive model. That we can continue moving in a direction that increases opportunities for treatment, but also for GED, trade, and employment as well. I know one of the more discouraging things for the convicted felon is finding a good job after incarceration. While there are some active programs, improvement can always be made. Rehabilitation is possible, I am a prime example. Thanks for reading, good day everyone!

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