January 13, 2009

excerpted from Join Together

Half of all prison inmates are dependent on drugs — including many incarcerated on non drug-related offenses — but less than 20 percent get the treatment they need, according to a new report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse(NIDA).

"Addiction is a stigmatized disease that the criminal justice system often fails to view as a medical condition; as a consequence, its treatment is not as available as it is for other medical conditions," said Redonna K. Chandler, principal author of the report and chief of NIDA's Services Research Branch.

NIDA researchers stressed that the criminal-justice system is ideal for getting people into treatment and applying pressure to complete therapy. They noted that a dollar spent on drug courts, for example, saves $4 in healthcare costs, while a dollar spent on prison-based treatment saves $2-$6.

The study appears in the Jan. 14, 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.