Think about it: right now, most individuals who are in prison or jail for substance-related crimes are battling with addictions. Those who are arrested for selling or using in public (and even some who are in jail for unrelated reasons) are likely to have a dependence on their drug of choice.


To stop these people from committing drug-related crimes, it’s important to get to the root of the problem to eliminate the addiction. Jail certainly has programs to punish crimes, but it may not be providing the resources that inmates need to really recover in the long-run. So the real question is, “will jail help with substance abuse, or is there a better way?”


Jail Time for Substance Abuse

Unfortunately, many people in jail for drug crimes already formed an addiction well before being arrested. And once they arrive in jail, it’s likely that they can still find or circulate drugs behind bars. In fact, more than half of the current jail population is addicted to a substance during their sentence.


While jail is certainly sobering, it can not serve as the primary solution for those who committed drug-related crimes. This form of punishment may help individuals to refrain from criminal activity, but it most likely won’t stop them from using.


To encourage current inmates to overcome addiction, some jails and prisons have brought in psychologists and specialists. Since seeing success, it’s evident that there may be a more beneficial solution to eliminating drug crimes for good.


Rehabilitation for Addiction

Because of the positive effects of rehabilitation centers, psychologists have been bringing some of their practices to inmates with addictions. Rehab programs are designed to help those with substance abuse issues recover from their dependence and become productive members of society.


Some rehab tools include providing healthy coping mechanisms, group meetings and therapy sessions, sobriety plans, and more. When compared to prison practices, rehab’s approach to addiction therapy vastly varies.


Comparing Both Facilities

If someone is suffering from a substance abuse issue, they are likely to have very different experiences in a jail versus a rehabilitation facility. Here’s how drugs and addiction may be handled in the different facilities:



  • Access to drugs, inability to stop craving
  • Immediate independent detox
  • 1 or 2 addiction programs with (in some cases) an in-house psychologist
  • More expensive for taxpayers to keep people in jail
  • Send users back out into the public without proper treatment
  • Punishing, uncomfortable environment & conditions



  • No access to drugs during treatment
  • Medically-administered detox
  • Strict focus on addiction therapy
  • A fraction of the cost for taxpayers, may be covered by insurance
  • Approach sobriety as a state of mind to help people recover after leaving
  • A comfortable and home-y environment


Clearly, it seems as if rehab programs are more delicately designed for those dealing with substance abuse issues. However, in some cases jail time may be the only option. So how can we help people overcome addiction regardless of their environment?


Overcoming Substance Abuse

Hopefully future prison boards will implement specific addiction and recovery programs into prisons around the country; but for now, all we can do is encourage it.


Currently, jails and prisons punish people for committing drug-related crimes. However, that won’t help treat the mental illness attached to the crimes. In fact, it might make it even worse. Those who must be in jail should at least be granted access to treatment along with their sentence. This way, the system may be able to prevent individuals from cycling back into prison.


At the end of the day, we can fight substance abuse by helping people become drug-free; and right now, a rehabilitation facility is the best place to achieve that goal.


If you or a loved one is suffering from substance abuse and is currently in the prison system, get more information about rehab programs by calling us at 267.209.7312.