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Addiction to illegal substances in American prisons is a very real and very extant problem and issue indeed.  This crisis has only worsened as more and more American drug addicts have been arrested and sent to prison instead of rehab.  Prison is not a rehab center nor does it even provide proper services for rehabilitating inmates.  Criminals who enter into the prison system will truthfully detox off of whatever drugs or alcohols are in their system when they entered prison, but they will not be able to address the mental, psychological, spiritual, and personal aspects of addiction that really make the addiction.

Contrary to some belief systems, addiction is about seventy percent mental and about thirty percent physical.  When as drug addict commits a crime and goes to prison he or she will be forced to detox cold turkey off of whatever drugs or alcohol he or she was on when he or she went into the penitentiary.  This is incredibly uncomfortable and can make those first few weeks in prison immensely painful and occasionally fatal.  Even when the inmate is physically clean though, he or she will still have all of the psychological addiction characteristics of addiction.

What is truly concerning is that, though one might be in prison for years, if he or she went into prison as an addict, then he or she will come out prison an addict.  He or she will still have all of the same triggers, behaviors, and psychological difficulties when it comes to pulls and incentives to use and abuse drugs and alcohol that he or she had when he or she went into prison.  Addiction complexes don’t just go away with time unless they are specifically addressed.

The Cold, Gritty Truth on Addiction in U.S. Prisons

The problem and issue of addiction in U.S. prisons has been swept under the rug for too long.  This is a serious and severe issue that has just been ongoing on and on for years.  Listed below are some of the nitty gritty facts about the issue and the problem brought to us by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and the National Institute on Drug Abuse and other affiliates:

• The portion of released prisoners with addiction problems who lacked medical insurance fell sharply after the health law’s Medicaid expansion took effect, but drug-treatment rates for ex-offenders barely budged, a new study shows.  Obviously, Medicaid does not pay for treatment like it should, and it does not provide enough resources for newly released poisoners.

• Twenty-eight percent of ex-inmates with drug-use disorders were without health coverage in 2014, down from about 38 percent in the years before that, according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The study was published June 6 in Health Affairs, an academic journal.

• The findings on prison addiction reflect the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid coverage in most states, while at the same time highlighting barriers to drug treatment even when patients have a way to pay for it.  It’s a flawed system and its causing ex-inmates some difficulty with finding treatment after release from prison.

• More than a third of adults in prison and jail are believed to have drug-use problems. Advocates have long argued that connecting them with medical coverage and treatment could reduce addiction as well as crime rates and recidivism.

• As many as 90 percent of prison and jail inmates now potentially qualify for Medicaid in the 31 states that opted to expand the program, according to some estimates.

• What caused the decline in the number of ex-inmates with drug issues who lacked coverage? Mainly an increase in Medicaid membership, from 21 percent of that group to 30 percent.

• In 2005, federal, state and local governments spent $74 billion on incarceration, court proceedings, probation and parole for substance-involved adult and juvenile offenders, and less than 1% of that amount—$632 million—on prevention and treatment.

• The report found that only 11% of all inmates with addiction received any treatment during their incarceration. The report found that if all inmates who needed treatment and aftercare received such services, the nation would break even in a year if just over 10% remained substance-free, crime-free and employed. Thereafter, for each former inmate who remained substance-free, crime-free and employed, the nation would reap an economic benefit of $90,953 per year.

Solutions to the Problem of Prison Addiction

Far too often are individuals sent to prison for minor drug-related crimes.  The problem is though that prison does not cure addiction.  That fact has been proven to us over and over and over and over again.  It has become steadily more obvious time and time again to the point where now it is almost laughable that it hasn’t been handled yet.

How does the nation as a whole address this flawed system?  Truly the best solution to addressing addiction is with putting those addicted through inpatient, residential, drug and alcohol addiction and dependence treatment centers, detox facilities, rehab programs, and recovery organizations.

The whole way that drug criminals are persecuted and processed needs to change.  The whole American justice system with how drug offenders are dealt with needs to change and adjust to more of a “pro-rehab” rather than a, “pro-prison” approach.  Rehab will actually handle the main reason why the individual committed the crimes in the first place.  Prison won’t.

Obviously for some crimes only a prison sentence will suffice.  But studies show that more than sixty percent of drug offenders in prison could have been put in a rehab center instead.  If the American justice system adjusts its approach to drug and alcohol offenders to sentence rehab instead of a prison sentence then these individuals will actually get cured and helped and in a big way too to the point where they are no longer detriment or a concern in American society.

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