The report 'The Principles of Drug Abuse
Treatment for Criminal Justice Populations',
outlines some of the strategies which have proven to
be successful in the treatment of drug abusers who
have fallen into crime and the criminal justice
The strategies say the researchers encourage a
lower rate of drug abuse and less criminal activity.
The report offers research-based treatment
solutions to judges and communities, and also
provides information on how the criminal justice
system can help reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS,
hepatitis, and other infectious diseases among drug
It is estimated that 70 percent of people in
state prisons and local jails have used drugs
regularly, compared to approximately 9 percent in
the general population, yet only one-fifth ever
The cost to society of drug abuse in the year
2002 was $181 billion - $107 billion associated with
It has been seen that untreated substance abuse
adds significant costs to communities, including
violent and property crimes, prison expenses, court
and criminal costs, emergency room visits, child
abuse and neglect, lost child support, foster care
and welfare costs, reduced productivity,
unemployment, and victimization.
Many communities have shied away from treatment
of drug abusing offenders because of concerns over
costs but research shows that for every dollar spent
on addiction treatment programs, there is a $4 to $7
reduction in the cost of drug-related crimes.
The report clearly acknowledges that drug
addiction is a brain disease that affects behavior
and offers 13 principles for recovery.
The principles are in brief as follows:-
- No single treatment is appropriate for all
individuals; treatment must be matched to each
individual's particular problems and needs and
- Effective treatment attends to multiple needs
of the individual, not just his or her drug use.
- An individual's treatment must be assessed
continually and modified as necessary to ensure
that the plan meets the person's changing needs.
- Remaining in treatment for an adequate period
of time is critical for treatment effectiveness.
- Counseling and other behavioral therapies are
critical components of effective treatment for
- Medications are an important element of
treatment for many patients, especially when
combined with counseling and other behavioral
- Nicotine addiction must be treated by a
replacement product (such as patches or gum) or an
- Addicted or drug-abusing individuals with
coexisting mental disorders should have both
disorders treated in an integrated way.
- Medical detoxification is only the first stage
of addiction treatment and by itself does little
to change long-term drug use.
- Treatment does not need to be voluntary to be
- Possible drug use during treatment must be
monitored continuously; lapses are common during
treatment and monitoring can help the patient
withstand urges to use drugs.
- Treatment programs should provide assessment
for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis and
other infectious diseases, and counseling to help
patients modify or change behaviors that place
themselves or others at risk of infection.
- Recovery from drug addiction can be a
long-term process and frequently requires multiple
episodes of treatment.
Dr. Nora Volkow, NIDA Director says detox alone
in jail or prison is not treatment,and without
proven treatment and therapeutic follow up in a
community setting, addicted offenders are at a high
risk of relapse.
Studies have shown that treatment cuts drug abuse
in half, reduces criminal activity up to 80 percent,
and reduces arrests up to 64 percent.
Treatment not only lowers recidivism rates, it is
also cost-effective and the failure to treat addicts
in the criminal justice system contributes to a
continuous cycle of substance abuse and crime.
Innovative substance abuse programs are already
underway in the Cook County criminal justice system
where judges are informed about the neuroscience of
addiction and treatment so they can be better
prepared to place addicted defendants in adequate
As well as outlining treatment principles for
criminal justice populations, the report also
answers questions about addiction as a chronic
Dr. Nora Volkow says it is known what is
effective in treating addiction, based on scientific
knowledge of the cognitive, behavioral, and
physiological characteristics of addicts, and the
principles of drug abuse treatment offered in the
report represent the translation of research into
practice and are powerful and practical tools that
will allow communities to choose between ongoing
treatment or ongoing crime.
Principles of Drug Abuse Treatment for Criminal
Justice Populations and its companion publication,
Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment (issued in
1999) can be accessed on NIDA's website
http://www.drugabuse.gov or by calling