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Drug abuse or substance abuse is an ever-present problem on the minds of Americans. Although the American government has done a lot in terms of programs to alleviate this persistent problem in society, still, this particular social illness remains. It is observed that those who use drugs are more prone to commit criminal offences than those who are not “users” (Anglin & Speckart, 1984, Cited in The Report of the National Task Force on Correctional Substance Abuse Strategies). What are some of the approaches being used by the American government to deal with this problem? What means are more effective and are indeed bearing fruit?
There are many varied means being applied to treat substance-abusing offenders. Incarceration alone has been proven to be not enough in dealing with drug-using criminals. There is of course immediate and decisive meting out of discipline when offenders are put to jail and temporary prevention of further crimes are averted; but the fact of the matter is prison or jail terms end. Once drug-using offenders are released from prison, the likelihood is that they will again return or resume their criminal careers. The so-called “revolving door of justice” revolves from “criminal act, arrest, conviction, incarceration or community supervision, release, and return to crime” (Anglin & Speckart, 1984, Cited in The Report of the National Task Force on Correctional Substance Abuse Strategies).
This has become the cycle. There has to be an effective program that would break this vicious cycle and help the offenders to overcome their addiction and thus prevent them from committing the same or more serious crimes. When this is effectively done, American society will be more safe and secure.
Usually, felons in correctional agencies are adults. These are people whose criminal backgrounds started way back into their early years – inside their homes. They began using illegal drugs at early ages. These, usually, have no education, no acquired skills, no successful work experience, were not raised or familiar with stable home conditions; if anything, they’re raised in families that support and encourage criminal values, attitudes, and behavior, etc.
With these kinds of people to deal with, the task is not rehabilitation but more of habilitation (Anglin & Speckart, 1984, Cited in The Report of the National Task Force on Correctional Substance Abuse Strategies). Since they had no basic family and socio-economic atmosphere necessary to instill and promote normal and good behavior which is acceptable to any progressive and decent society, these people need to be clothed with the “basics” of life necessary for them to function properly within a society without becoming a threat to the populace.
Fortunately, most of our correctionals have a comprehensive program which includes holistic approach that is effective in treating drug-using offenders. The program includes:
1. Clear mission statement and criteria for appropriate participants, as well as assessment strategy.
2. Moral support and understanding of the agency’s administrators and their staff.
3. Well-trained staff who constantly keep an update and has an on-going education with regards to their therapeutic work.
4. Maintain consistent intervention strategies which are provided through linkages with other correctionals as offenders move through the system. i.e. they’re being followed up.
5. Continuous evaluation (Anglin & Speckart, 1984, Cited in The Report of the National Task Force on Correctional Substance Abuse Strategies).
One of the most important innovations of the past decades is the program called “case management program” (http://psychservices.psychiatryonline.org). It deals with mental health and community care. The program was so designed as to deal specifically with persons having substance use disorders. Because persons with this problem are suffering from the multifaceted and chronic nature of this disorder, case management is a program of treatment that is comprehensive and continuous in its approach. Its strategy is client-centered and aims to treat every inpidual differently according to the inpidual’s unique needs. Since it is believed that persons with substance use disorders suffer from multiple needs, the care administered has to be continuous and coordinated.
Although case management approach is modeled after mental treatment examples, it is nevertheless distinct in that is was developed separately and is aimed particularly on substance abuse. Hence, there is a strong distinction between them. Experts have shown that case management approach is effective in that it could reduce the wear and tear that usually is the result of drug addiction. It helps to “improve both the psychosocial and drug and alcohol outcomes among persons with substance use disorders”
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