How Can Inmates Receive Drug Rehabilitation?

Of all the people serving prison sentences in the US, almost half are incarcerated for drug-related crimes. In recent years, research has revealed that treatment is far more effective than incarceration for people with substance abuse problems. Fortunately, prisons have expanded their access to drug treatment programs for inmates, allowing incarcerated individuals to pursue recovery while serving their sentences. If you or someone you love is in jail and needs treatment for substance abuse, one of these options may help.

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46.1% of incarcerated people in the US are serving time for drug-related crimes.

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Benefits of Treatment for Inmates

Addiction is very common for prison inmates. Statistics show that many inmates deal with addiction problems. Unfortunately though very few of the prison addicts receive much needed treatment while they are behind bars. The truth is addressing drug and alcohol disorders during incarceration as well as following their release improves their chances of not relapsing later.


For inmates with substance abuse disorders, treatment is absolutely vital. In fact, expanding treatment resources for inmates provides benefits for society as a whole. Studies show that when inmates have access to drug and alcohol treatment programs, they:

  • Are less likely to relapse than those who don’t receive treatment.
  • Have an easier time finding employment.
  • Integrate more easily back into society.
  • Are less likely to commit further crimes.
  • Improve their chances at breaking drug addiction cycles

Residential Drug Abuse Treatment

The Federal Bureau of Prisons has implemented a program for inmates who need drug and alcohol abuse treatment.


Some participants take part in the Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP). During RDAP, participants live in a separate community from the rest of the prison population. The program, which lasts for nine months, teaches participants the skills that they’ll need to transition back into society. It also uses principles from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help participants learn to resist triggers and deal with stressors.

Non-Residential Treatment

What about inmates who have shorter sentences? Do they have drug treatment options?


The answer is yes. In addition to RDAP, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has developed a non-residential treatment program. Though less intensive, the non-residential program operates under the same principles as RDAP.


Unlike residential treatment programs such as in Florida drug rehab centers, those who participate in the non-residential drug treatment program still live in the same area as non-participants. For a 12-week period, participants attend group therapy sessions based on CBT. Like the residential program, the non-residential version teaches the skills necessary for maintaining sobriety, avoiding crime, and re-entering society after prison.

Are you struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction? Call 800-492-QUIT today.

SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery, an independent organization, is a network of secular support groups for people with drug and alcohol addictions. Several years ago, SMART Recovery developed a program called Inside Out, adapting their approach to the needs of incarcerated people. They host 90-minute meetings in which participants work through the materials and talk to one another. Like the Bureau-led programs mentioned above, SMART Recovery uses techniques from CBT to help participants recognize and reframe their mental stressors.

12 Step Groups

Some prisons work with local 12 Step groups, allowing meetings inside the facility. 12 Step programs, like Alcoholics Anonymous for example, introduce participants to a spiritual pathway toward sobriety. In a 12 Step group, participants acknowledge their addictions, learn to recognize a Higher Power, make amends for past wrongs, and seek continued self-improvement.

What Happens After Prison?

If you or your loved one has recently been released from prison or anticipate being released soon, the goal should be to keep seeking treatment for drug and alcohol use. Those who don’t participate in continued treatment are more prone to early relapse than those who do, and the period immediately after release carries the most risk.


Community Treatment Services


Thankfully, in addition to their residential and non-residential programs, the Federal Bureau of Prisons does offer follow-up help after release. They work with social workers and other professionals to help former prisoners continue to get help for substance abuse disorders. This program is called Community Treatment Services, and you should absolutely take advantage of the program if it is available to you.

A 2012 survey of studies found that about 40% of people who do not continue to stay in recovery after being treated for addiction ultimately relapse.

After release from prison, you might also try to find a therapist as soon as possible. Some therapists specialize in working with former inmates, and many therapists offer sliding scale payment options for those who otherwise can’t afford the cost of treatment. CBT, talk therapy, and many other kinds of therapy can help you stay sober after your release from prison. Furthermore, support groups like 12 Step programs or SMART Recovery can be found all across the country, and you might decide to attend meetings.

Need More Information?

Recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction can be difficult enough when you don’t have to research your options from prison. Incarceration can make recovery much more difficult if nobody teaches you the right skills. Rehab Info is here to help you get the treatment that you need.


Call us today and get the help you need at 800-492-QUIT.

We’ll help you work through your options so that you

can find the best fit and get clean and sober. Call or have a loved one call 800-492-QUIT today. You can quit, and you don’t have to face your problems alone.
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