To what extent are prisons in the UK meeting the needs of drug and alcohol dependants?
Methods of rehabilitation
Heroin addiction/ Methadone use
Controlling drugs in prison
Successes and failures
Methods of Rehabilitation
When treating drug addiction it is important to remember that;
drug addiction is a physical illness which needs treated rather than a lifestyle
that all drug addicts have different needs meaning rehab must be appropriate to the addict and personal to them
that drug addiction is mostly linked with other factors such as mental health or a negative experience in their life such as being victims of abuse, this means to treat the addiction you need to tackle the other issues also
When inmates enter a prison in England or Wales with a drug problem they are assessed and given advice and may be referred to a drug treatment programme (DTP).
If a prisoner wants to be put on a DTP they can, however not all prisons are well equipped, some are run by prison officers and some are run by outside drug workers, they can last anything from a few weeks up to eighteen months, and prisoners are expected to stop taking drugs whilst on the programme and may be tested.
The HM prison service doesn’t seem to have the situation under control. It is clear that there is a massive drug problem in UK prisons with 62% of new inmates having a drug problem. This means prison must focus on the drug issue and get to the root causes. It is being sidelined and I believe this is a major cause of re-offending. This would be a hugely worthwhile investment as it would be expensive just now but save hugely cut re-offending rates meaning a more manageable prison population in future years.
The Scottish Prison Service have the following aims:
to reduce the amount of drugs and drug related paraphernalia entering prison
to offer a variety of options as addicts all have different needs
to work on inmates education, such as reading and writing to build self esteem which can help with the process of coming off the drugs
to ensure staff are well trained and understand the importan principles
Heroin Addiction/ Methadone Use
Undoubtably one of the most controversial issues when it comes to drug rehabilitation is the use of methadone. In 2008, 20,000 prisoners in England were using methadone. It is used as a heroin substitute as it can be prescribed and reduces withdrawal symptoms. The problem with methadone is the fact it is just as dangerous and just as addictive as heroin. Also, it is incredibly sweet and full of sugar which destroys the user’s teeth. This means it is virtually impossible for a user to find employment as their substance use is visible unlike heroin. Many people say methadone is the easy way out for the prison service as all they are doing is making the prisoners easier to manage rather than treating them.
Video on methadone http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWhP742NvhA&feature=related
Controlling Drugs Coming Into Prison
Often drugs get into prisons through the post or visitors, despite searches
If prisons wanted to stop the flow of drugs into their premises they could, however prisons can’t work without drugs as inmates would be uncontrollable
It would be quite easy to reduce the number of drugs in prison but the prison service don’t take much action despite saying in public that they will
Alcohol in Prison
In 2005 there were 139 homicide cases in Scotland, 19% of them were carried out whilst drunk and 9% were on drugs
The 2005 Scottish Prison Survey shows that approximately two-thirds of both male and female prisoners felt their drinking was a problem outside prison: 34% and 30% respectively.
A centre was set up by the previous government for female offenders as an alternative to prison.
Successes and Failures
The amount of drugs found by officers in Scottish prisons has doubled since 2003
The prison population is ever increasing which is making it more difficult to stop the flow of drugs and also makes rehabilitation more expensive
The number of prisoners prescribed methadone in England increased by 57% between 2008 and 2009
Report into methadone use in English and Welsh prisons http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8402944.stm
Alcohol in prison http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/ford-open-prison-awash-with-alcohol-1680404.html
Story about prison guards in america smuggling drugs into prison http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/16/AR2009041604337.html