Rehabilitation vs. Prison: Why Treatment Is The Better Choice

Research proves that rehabilitation reduces recidivism, health care costs, and more when compared to incarceration.

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Incarceration is not an ideal choice for someone seeking to treat drug or alcohol addiction.

A combination of strict sentencing guidelines, budget shortfalls, and other factors have made today’s prisons much less likely to rehabilitate those living with addiction.

When individuals are placed in prison for charges related to drug use, it often exacerbates the problem, and the individual may become less likely to seek help.

Rehabilitation Vs. Incarceration

Incarceration has been shown to be inadequate in addressing drug abuse or alcohol addiction.

Studies in 15 states found that one-quarter of those released returned to prison within three years for a variety of violations, including testing positive for drug or alcohol use.

Drug courts combine judicial supervision with drug treatment as an alternative to incarceration.

The graduates of drug treatment programs are half as likely to reoffend as those treated for drug use in the criminal justice system.

Personal Benefits Of Addiction Rehabilitation

There are a variety of personal benefits someone may receive from drug addiction treatment.

Treatment programs for drug offenders may reduce relapse, reduce drug-related crime rates, increase education levels, reduce recidivism rates, and improve mental health conditions.

Focus On Self-Improvement

Recovery is a process of personal growth and developmental milestones.

Treatment programs focus on addressing behaviors of lying, secretiveness, and other behaviors that may accompany substance abuse for an overall focus on self-improvement.

Rehabilitation has also been shown to increase self-esteem. Studies have found that an individual with higher self-esteem has a lower likelihood of substance abuse.

Access To Mental Health Treatment

Those with substance use disorders may also have co-occurring mental health disorders. Rehabilitation may provide mental health treatment while treating substance use disorders.

Treatment modalities such as behavioral health therapies may be used to treat both substance use disorders and a variety of mental health conditions.

43% of adults in America who need mental health treatment do not receive that care.

Substance use treatment may provide individuals with access to mental health treatment that they otherwise may not be able to access due to cost, location, and other barriers to care.

Reducing Relapse And Recidivism

People in the healthcare system focus on relapse in terms of drug or alcohol consumption.
However, consumption is the last step in relapse.

Rehabilitation focuses on the different stages leading to relapse to stop consumption before it occurs, including each stage’s initial signs and preventative interventions for each stage.

Rehabilitation programs were created to reduce recidivism among individuals who have been convicted of offenses by improving their skills, behaviors, mental health, and access to employment and education.

Studies have found that when drug courts order rehabilitation in place of incarceration, recidivism is reduced by 26%.

Societal Advantages Of Rehabilitation

Drug and alcohol use can have harmful effects on the health and public safety of each member of society. Substance use significantly impacts the economy and other aspects of society.

Cost Effectiveness

In 2006, excessive drinking cost the United States $223 billion in healthcare expenses, criminal justice system costs, law enforcement, and other resources.

Intervening early before drug or alcohol use leads to addiction is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce substance use’s cost to society.

Research has shown that for every dollar spent on substance abuse treatment, $4 is saved in healthcare costs, and $7 is saved in law enforcement and criminal justice costs.

On average, substance abuse treatment costs $1,583 per individual and is associated with an offset of $11,487, showing over a 7:1 ratio of benefits to cost.

Human Rights Considerations

Individuals consenting to take part in rehabilitation may raise human rights issues. Consent to care and treatment is key in healthcare as well as human rights law.

Involving an individual in transitioning to a rehab program is essential to help them regain control and independence.

Potential human rights issues with rehabilitation may include:

  • intervening in an individual’s decisions that treatment providers consider unwise
  • preventing an individual from leaving rehab without any legal safeguards in place
  • engaging in over-restrictive practices that lead to someone not having independence, such as a lack of choice

A treatment center must take the proper approach to rehabilitation and consider human rights.

A human rights-focused approach to rehabilitation may include the following:

  • ensuring a proper assessment has been completed to determine if rehab is suitable for the individual
  • explaining the purpose of rehabilitation, including encouraging the individual to regain control and independence
  • letting the individual know what is expected of them in rehab and what they can expect from the service
  • agreeing on a timeframe for rehabilitation with the individual

Diverting Non-Violent Offenders

Diversion is the process in which individuals with substance use disorders are diverted from the prison system into treatment.

Diverting individuals to community-based treatment instead of facing jail time has been shown to create positive social benefits.

Research has found that the diversion of non-violent offenders into treatment both lowers the cost of prison and drug treatment by tens of billions of dollars and creates a reduction in the number of drug offenses and criminal behavior after release.

Criminal Justice Reform

The Federal Bureau of Prisons is championing reforms designed to strengthen public safety and reduce reentry of individuals into the prison population.

By focusing on evidence-based rehab programs, the U.S. prison system is addressing the core behavioral issues that result in offenses leading to prison sentences, as well as reducing the likelihood that an inmate will reoffend.

Drug courts are reforming the criminal justice system by showcasing the benefits of addiction treatment for society and individuals.

Studies have found that drug court participants are less likely to test positive for using drugs and less likely to reoffend.

Although drug court programs cost more than traditional proceedings, they save money by lowering repeat incarceration and arrests and reducing overall costs.

Ask About Substance Abuse Treatment In Massachusetts

If you or a loved one is seeking substance abuse treatment in Massachusetts, we can help.

Contact Bedrock Recovery Center to learn more information about our rehab facility.

  1. American Psychological Association (APA)
  2. Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA),criminal%20charges%20or%20convictions%20expunged./
  3. London School Of Economics
  4. National Archives
  5. National Council For Mental Well-Being
  6. National Institute of Justice
  7. National Library Of Medicine: Bookshelf
  8. National Library Of Medicine: PubMed
  9. National Library Of Medicine: PubMed
  10. National Library Of Medicine: PubMed
  11. The British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR)
  12. The United States Department of Justice Archives (DOJ)

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: December 14, 2023

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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